Masala! Talks To Farhan Akhtar

He leaves a stamp of class in whatever he does. We engage the ever-hot, multi-talented Farhan in a fun chat…
Masala! Talks To Farhan Akhtar
M talks to Farhan Akhtar

Farhan Akhtar

Read more about Farhan Akhtar

Dil Dhadakne Do. Classic. Just watch the movie. Nothing less, nothing more. Can anyone communicate to the Akhtars that I would be interested in acting on ALL their upcoming movies? Please?

This was a message posted on Facebook, by an impassioned cine-phile who was clearly very impressed with the latest offering from Excel Entertainment. In fact, it sums up the feelings of a lot of Bollywood lovers who are huge followers of the kind of cinema that the super talented sibling duo Farhan and Zoya Akhtar advocates. Honeymoon Travels Pvt Ltd, Luck By Chance, Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara and now Dil Dhadakne Do – their slice-of-life films, rich with emotions and deep in context, find an instant connect with the multiplex audience worldwide. The last mentioned, that opened to full theatres in the UAE last week, is the stuff that movie dreams are made of. Beautiful people in gorgeous locations, lovely songs, family conflicts that anyone can relate to and an ensemble star cast at their best act, all add up to make an extremely entertaining film that, going by current box office trends, may become one of the biggest hits of the year.

It’s no wonder that Farhan Akhtar is thrilled with his latest project that has won him rave reviews for his performance (we were of course, drooling over the way he was styled!). The film had him in a cameo – as a free-thinking journalist who is Priyanka Chopra’s love interest – yet he left a deep impact. The scene where he gives a piece of his mind to a chauvinistic character on what true women’s empowerment means, is easily one of the best in the movie. One almost felt it was an ode to his own involvement in creating awareness towards women’ issues (he is the first male Goodwill Ambassador for UN Women in South Asia). Perhaps there is a bit of Farhan in every role he does – be it as an actor or a director. Or perhaps not. Maybe, as our recent chat with the versatile singer-actor-filmmaker revealed, he just wants to be part of films he believes in and have a lot of fun while doing it...

Dil Dhadakne Do looked like one big party right from the time when the trailers started airing. Was it like that during the shoot of the film in all those exotic locations?

It was a lot of fun, I can’t deny that (laughs). Imagine, a cast of over 25 main characters and a crew of nearly a 100… all in the middle of the ocean! It could have been a logistical nightmare but all went well. There was a lot of hard work involved but an equal amount of down time for all of us too. And that’s when we let our hair down. For me, the cruise was memorable, especially the shoot in Istanbul and Anatolya. The production team took care to see things went smoothly.

You had a short role but at some points it seemed like an extension of Imran in Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara (ZNMD). How did you approach your character?

Imran? No, not at all! It is hugely different though I am glad that my role of Imran has left such a huge impact that you mention it even now. The only common element in the two characters is perhaps that both are writers, thus they have similar backgrounds. While playing any role, you take your cues from the script and other people you observe in life. At times, you just base it on the people you know. For instance, I played a journalist in DDD. I was doing something you guys do and I observed people in that profession, their mannerisms and approach while preparing for the role. Having said that, the profession of the character wasn’t the focal point in this film; the story was more about emotional journey of the individual characters. You will know more when you watch it.

Of course! But stars are rarely available for taking questions after their film releases…

(Laughs) I agree. There should be a post-mortem of every movie, isn’t it? 

Yes indeed! Perhaps we can then hold you accountable for all that you say during promotions…

And that’s when we will put our managers on to you for comment (laughs out loud).

You shared screen space with Ranveer Singh who is known to be quite exuberant and enthusiastic – on and off screen. On the other hand, you are more known for your subtlety. How did the twain meet?

Ranveer is enthusiastic for sure! He plays a spoilt brat in the film so I guess his energy worked beautifully. I am a bit more reserved so that played out well too. But off screen, we had a great time and bonded well.

DDD is a film on relationships and generally, we have seen women filmmakers have a different take on depicting emotions on screen as opposed to male directors. How does your approach differ from that of Zoya cinematically?

I feel every filmmaker, every individual as a unique take, so you really can’t compare. That’s why writing plays such an important role in cinema. Full credit to Zoya and Reema (Kagti) for creating a script that had such layered characters. It was evident even in their earlier films like Talaash or Honeymoon Travels Pvt Ltd. As an actor, all I had to do was follow their cues. We also did have a lot of discussions, every scene was analysed before shoot began and everybody gave their inputs. I wouldn’t want to elaborate on what exactly our discussions were because that’s between the director and actor but what I mean is, you need thinking actors on any project, people who contribute their thoughts and ideas.   

You are a writer-director yourself but have been an integral part of Zoya’s films. What is it about her art and craft that you admire the most?

Zoya and Reema’s writing is very real. You feel like you are watching real people on screen, those whose lives and emotions mirror yours in some way or the other. There is no agenda to establish something make-believe, they want to play it real. And that’s what I like the most about her work.  

A lot was said about the film being about a dysfunctional Punjabi family. How would you define ‘dysfunctional’?

If you look at it, there is no family that would not be dysfunctional! Every family has issues; it’s just that most people, naturally, don’t talk about it. I saw this film as merely a wonderful Indian drama. This naturally gave it a lot of scope for emotion and humour. Since it’s about a Punjabi family, music is an integral part of it. I would say, it’s a Punjabi family, not a dysfunctional family.  

Personally, if you had a problem with any member of your family – parents, cousins or uncles – how do you handle them?

I usually approach it with honesty but not in a confrontational manner. In fact, as a child I used to keep things inside me. I was pretty much the silent kid, keeping everything bottled up! Zoya was able to get more out of me than anyone else. I owe her a lot as she helped me open up emotionally. With parents, it’s a different equation. We have now all reached a level where parents are like your friends. Of course there are certain boundaries that you still respect but it’s a lot cooler and chilled out now. We have reached that level in life. 

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