He probably is one of the busiest men in Bollywood right now. Not only is Farhan Akhtar sitting in the director’s chair for the sequel to his huge hit Don, he is producing several big films and add on to that he is also starring in sister Zoya Akhtar’s second film Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara. No wonder we haven’t heard much from him lately. He recently talked with Subhash K Jha about his upcoming projects. Here are some highlights from that interview.
Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara is an ensemble piece starring Farhan, Hrithik Roshan, Abhay Deol, Katrina Kaif and Kalki Koechlin, which is scheduled to release in May. According to Farhan, ZNMD ‘is about three guys on the verge of making commitments in life’.
Farhan said his role in ZNMD is a totally different one from his earlier characters, “In Zoya’s Luck By Chance I was a sneaky social climber. In ZNMD it’s a sea-change. I play this guy who for the longest time takes nothing seriously. I am not even rich and I don’t pretend to be. I’m just happy being the way I am. I got to just let my hair down. Many moments in this film gave me a chance to have lots of fun. After Rock On, Luck By Chance and Karthik Calling Karthik which were all serious angst-laden characters in ZNMD I play a fun character.”
The film shot extensively in Spain last year. “Yeah, all of us-Zoya, Hrithik, Abhay, Katrina, Kalki and me…became this little commune travelling across Spain. We travelled a lot. Spain has everything from beaches to mountains. So far only Bollywood songs have been shot in Spain.” He also clarified that despite the rumors there is no bullfight in the movie but that they did participate in the Running with the Bulls festival.
Farhan says they had a blast while shooting the film, “We made sure every scene was fun. Abhay, Hrithik and I spent a lot of time together. We really had some serious fun. Hrithik I knew for a long time. Abhay I got to know during this film. He’s a very cool guy.”
He also revealed two cool things; one that there was a lot of improvisation during the scenes and two that “all three of us Hrithik, Abhay and I, have sung in ZNMD. It’s a party situation. It seemed interesting to lend our own voices to our characters. It’s turned out really, really well. I am very excited.”
His first film as an actor was in the film Rock On!!, which was a huge success. However, besides saying that ‘the impact of the film still lingers’, he did not really talk about his work on the path breaking film, instead he talked about his feelings that his father Javed Akhtar’s work on the film’s lyrics did not get nearly the praise it deserved. “I genuinely feel my dad (Javed Akhtar) did not get enough credit for the lyrics he wrote in Rock On!!. After such a long time these were songs that were so non-situational. Without any reference point he wrote lyrics that were so contagious and identifiable…Of course everyone loved the music of Rock On. But my dad’s calibre of writing in the songs didn’t get its due.”
The director/producer also talked about what he thinks is the secret of success when making a film. “To focus relentlessly on telling a good story. To me that’s really important. People remember a good story. Filmmaking begins for me with finding a good story.”
In his director avatar Farhan has also been working hard on Don 2, which is now about 60% complete. Speaking about working with Shah Rukh Khan on the sequel Farhan said, “I feel in terms of his real-life personality Don, suits Shah Rukh to the hilt. In real life too there’s a certain flamboyance and magnetism about Shah Rukh. He brings these qualities effortlessly to the part. Also, like me, he has great respect and love for the original Don (featuring Amitabh Bachchan). At the same time he gives the character his own spin. In the second Don we’ve taken some of the essence of what Shah Rukh did in the first Don. But we’ve also given him some new things to do.”
So, will there be a Don 3? “Yes, why not? Let’s see. I do enjoy making Don. Right now I’m just happy creating a whole new story for this character. It’s a big challenge for me.”