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Itís been the big break for many of the bands in the country. Independence Rock ~ or I-Rock, as it is better known ~ has contributed something to all the big rock bands in India. And as it is set to arrive yet again, thereís only one person you can think of when you think I-Rock: Farhad K Wadia, whoís busy getting in and out of meetings. Too busy to do interviews even, so weíre lucky we caught him with 15 minutes to spare.

The Record: What are your plans for this yearís Independence Rock?

Farhad Wadia: This year itís going to be a three-city tour (Delhi, Bangalore and Mumbai) where we will hold the festival in pubs and then culminate the finals in Mumbai. Itís an E18 initiative and the dates for the eliminations in the cities are yet to be decided. Four bands will perform over two days in every city and the finals will happen in Mumbai on August 25 and 26.

TR: Any particular reason why the change in the format?

FW: Thereís not much change in terms of the festival format. Itís just that we wanted to extend it to other cities and also wanted to hold live eliminations so that we could listen to the bands playing live unlike every yearís arrangement of listening to tapes. We want to listen to the young upcoming bands live. Another reason we extended the festival to three cities is because of the huge fan following we have in other cities. They know about I-Rock but have not attended one. The gig will be spread out over six weeks.

TR: What have been the highlights of I-Rock for you over the years?

FW: There have been so many highlights ~ from the festival being a small event with zero publicity, to it turning into a huge phenomenon with a whole campaign and a national affair. This was the first concert a lot of popular MTV VJs from other countries attended; this was a platform that gave so many bands a break. Almost every big band (with the exception of Remo Fernandes) has played at I-Rock from Rock Machine, Parikrama to [younger] ones such as Zero.

TR: Whatís the one thing you miss about I-Rock today?

FW: Weíve had our share of downfalls. At one point, the festival was banned by the Maharashtra government citing it obscene; priests were after us, saying it was devil worship and all sorts of other things. I miss Rang Bhavan a lot. I have gone to the court thrice, and this time Iím still fighting for Rang Bhavan and hope to perform there once. I think the festival has come a full circle.

TR: Any favourite anecdotes you would like to share?

FW: I remember the sixth or seventh I-Rock, I was doing my sound check and it was pouring heavily; so after I was done, I went out to see how many people had arrived. The sight I saw that day still gives me goose bumps. I saw a huge line stretching till Regal; guys wearing black t-shirts holding wet fifty rupee notes and my heart went out.
[Two years ago], when I-Rock was cancelled for the first time in twenty years, I was at Rang Bhavan where about 5,000 people had gathered and I got on top of the car to explain to them the problem and requested the crowd to move away as peacefully as possible because the police were looking for them to create some trouble. I was touched when the whole crowd left without making any noise; if it was a Ganpati festival or Navratri a riot was sure to have broken out.

You can read the rest of our special feature I-Rock in the August 2007 issue of The Record Music Magazine available at your local newsagent.


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