He wowed audiences and critics alike with his debut performance in the blockbuster Rock On!!. Farhan Akhtar took his first role and showed that not only can he act and portray the character with true depth but he can also sing! His next film, releasing this Friday, is Zoya Akhtar’s Luck By Chance. In the film he plays a struggling actor in the Hindi film Industry and it was quite a challenging role for the actor. Farhan recently talked to Aly about the film, working with Koko and his take on Luck! So sit back, relax and read the exciting interview we got by Chance!
It’s actually quite difficult to come up with questions for you because you wear so many caps in the industry—you’re an actor, director and producer. So how do you balance these three careers and how do you decide which takes priority?
Well, as far as production goes I have a partner in the company whose name is Ritesh Sidhwani, and he is really the one who deals with all the production issues. So my involvement, really, is not a day-to-day involvement that is hands on. It’s mainly handled by him. As far as the other aspects go, whether it’s acting or directing, it’s really a case of time management and not doing both of them simultaneously. You know, making sure that I have adequate time to prepare for each job when it’s been scheduled to happen. So it’s really a question of time management.
Has life changed at all since Rock On!!? I mean, do you see yourself as a star?
No, I don’t really see myself as a star. I do think that the performance in Rock On!! has been appreciated which makes me feel good as an actor. Apart from that, I feel kind of confident getting into my next film as an actor as well. You know, it’s given me a certain amount of confidence having made those choices to create the character in Rock On!! and people appreciating those choices creatively that have been made. So that feels good. In terms of life-changing, of course as an actor a lot more people recognize you. A lot more people are aware of who this person is. Earlier, Farhan Akhtar on a credit used to be the writer or director and not many people had a face associated with it. Now people come up to me and it’s nice because they come up and talk to me about Dil Chahta Hai, Lakshya and Don, when earlier they didn’t know who this person was and they didn’t know who they could go up to and say “I really liked your film.” So that’s kind of an added bonus that now they can speak to me about Dil Chahta Hai, Don and Lakshya, knowing that I’m the person who made those movies.
Coming to Luck By Chance, how much of a factor has luck been in your career thus far? Tell us how.
(Thinks) You know there’s a very famous saying: fortune favours the brave. I think on that level things have kind of worked for me, where I feel I have met the right people at the correct crossroads in my life. It’s starting from the time that I met the first person that I seriously worked under—his name was Adi Posa when I was working as an assistant in advertising in Bombay. And he was a great teacher and I worked with him for 3.5 years and I learned a lot from him about writing, the discipline of writing, about organization when it comes to shooting films, I learnt a lot from him. So, he was the first person that I was fortunate to have worked under. Subsequently after that, after having written Dil Chahta Hai it was lucky that Aamir (Khan) said yes to the project. Fair enough, he said yes to the project because of the script being kind of new and fresh. So that’s where the kind of brave aspect comes in — writing something that wasn’t written before and was kind of new for its time. And he supported that. And the minute Aamir supported it suddenly many other people started supporting it because Aamir’s a big name. So that was the second stroke of luck, so to speak. And the third I think is Abhishek Kapoor coming up to me and saying that he wants to cast me in Rock On!!. It was completely out of the blue. He had no idea that I played the guitar, he had no idea that I sang and he just felt that I would be the right guy. And then we met and we spoke and suddenly there was these nine or ten years of preparation almost done in my life when I had been playing guitar and singing that I could bring to this part. It felt almost like a ‘meant-to-be’ situation. I think these are three very key moments in my life.
Did you find this role more difficult than Rock On!!? Tell us a bit about it.
It definitely is a lot more difficult role. I think it’s a far more complicated and complex character. His struggles are very different and it’s a far more layered role. It’s a more difficult role to play. I think with the character in Rock On!! as well as the character is written, he’s a character who immediately draws a certain amount of sympathy from the audience because of what his life has become and when you see how happy he was – how wonderful those times were when all the friends were together. So the way the character was written, it draws a certain amount of sympathy towards it. With this, it’s not the case. I mean you really have to start from scratch with this because it’s a character that you have absolutely no feeling toward when you first meet him. He’s somebody who has to gradually grow and earn that from the audience. And he has a lot more issues in terms of survival, struggle, using the system, being manipulative at times. All these things are things he has to work at and at the same time come across as a charming person. So it was a far more complicated character to play.
After working with a great actress like Konkona, what’s something about her that you discovered which people would be surprised to hear?
(Thinks) That they would be surprised to hear? She would tell you this herself, that she struggles a lot with her Hindi. I think that’s probably one thing. When she speaks it in her films it sounds completely like it’s her natural language but it’s really not. Being from Calcutta, the two languages that are your own are English and Bengali. So Hindi is a learning process for her, it’s not her thinking language. She really has to learn her dialogue and memorize her dialogue in terms of the Hindi aspect of it and then make it sound like it’s completely natural and that it’s her first language, and she manages to do that amazingly, amazingly well. So I think the one thing that I can tell you about her is that she’s not a natural Hindi-speaking person.
What do you have to say about working with Konkona in general—as an actress, as a co-star?
It’s a wonderful experience for any actor to work with somebody else who is as gifted and talented as her. She comes thoroughly prepared to the set, she’s very easygoing, she’s absolutely not fussy at all about things that are going on around her and she’s very focused on her work. When you’re doing a scene with her, she is actually listening to you when you’re saying your lines; she’s responding to dialogue, she’s responding to the other person’s cue as if she’s heard it for the very first time. That’s why her responses are so organic and so natural. As a co-actor, I don’t think anyone can ask for more. It was really a great experience working with her.
Should audiences be ready to witness a realistic look at the Hindi film industry, or is Luck By Chance more of a satire?
I think it’s kind of somewhere in between. There is of course a reality to how the script unfolds and these characters are very real. But of course, being a film, there is a certain amount of cinematic liberty you have to take to create a fictional piece. So it’s kind of in between there, I wouldn’t call it a satire and I wouldn’t call it absolutely real either. There’s kind of a fine line in between.
This film also faced several casting rumours. Set the record straight for us—when exactly did Luck By Chance fall into your lap?
Zoya watched this movie that I had done in 2006. It was a film called The Fakir of Venice, which I did as an actor. The film hasn’t released yet but she saw the film after it was complete and she really liked my work in the film. That’s when she spoke to me. She spoke to me in 2007 after seeing that film, saying that she wanted to cast me as the character in Luck By Chance. So I actually got cast in 2007.
Do you think the fact that you and Zoya are siblings worked in the film’s favour?
I think the fact that Zoya and me are siblings did work because a) I’ve been very, very familiar with the script as her brother who knows her work and b) as somebody who was the producer of this film since it was first written in 2002. So I know the script backward. I’m very well-versed with the dialogue of the film. I know all the characters; I know exactly what’s happening in the movie. So on that level it was very beneficial that in 2007 I didn’t have to start from being completely unaware to what the film is about and who this character is. So all that process had already been completed somewhere in my mind because I was so familiar with it. So that definitely did help.
Have you seen the final cut in the film, and if yes, what was your first reaction?
I’m very, very happy with the film. As an actor and a producer, I’m really happy with the film. I’m really happy with the director’s work and as a brother I’m really proud of the fact that she’s made this film. That it’s her first film and it’s as well made and entertaining and involving as it is.
There are also several guest appearances in the movie. How did your team manage to rope in so many stars for cameos?
Of course, we share a great rapport with most of the actors in the industry. Apart from that, they know the kind of work that Excel Entertainment does. We’re completely not in the business of exploiting people or exploiting our relationships with them. It’s a film about the film industry and they are members of the film industry so it’s not that we have only actors — we have directors in the film as well. We have many different people from the film industry in the film. Because it does represent this world, it does represent this fraternity, they felt that it was a comfortable enough zone for them to be a part. They play themselves in a very respectable and dignified manner. There’s absolutely no taking advantage of the fact that they’re in the film by getting them to do something they’re not comfortable with.
You’ve also got some great projects lined up—as an actor, director and producer. Tell us a bit about some of these and when can we expect Voices From The Sky to take off?
Voices From the Sky I was very hopeful that I’d be able to do it this year but unfortunately that’s not going to happen. There are certain logistical reasons as to why we can’t do it now. So that’s been postponed. As far as this year, then, that leaves us with a film called Kartik Calling Kartik which is going to be directed by a new director whose name is Vijay Lalwani. He starts the film in April which Excel is producing and which I’m acting in. Immediately after that there’s a film that starts in July which Excel will produce being directed by Abhinay Deol who is an ad-film maker. The cast of that film is currently is Abhishek and Aishwarya. At the end of the year, we hope to start two more projects: one with me as a director, which will not be Voices From the Sky and the other will hopefully be Reema Kagti’s film, who directed Honeymoon Travels Pvt. Ltd.
Your television show Oye! It’s Friday is also a big hit. Which has been your favourite episode so far and why? Also, who’s one person you’d love to interview and haven’t had the chance to yet?
I really can’t say what’s been my favourite episode. It’s difficult to say. The one that I remember the most is the first one, because it’s the one I was most nervous about. It was great to have Hrithik who is a very, very dear friend and really gave me a lot of his time that day and went along with a lot of the gags that we wanted to do, spoke very candidly about his life. That kind of set the mood for all the other guests to follow. I think that was probably the first experience given the circumstances that I was getting into, probably the one I remember most. Of course, I’ve had a great time interviewing all the guests because they had a good time which makes me have a good time. The one I’m looking forward to doing is a conversation with Salman.
That will definitely be interesting for us to watch as well! Now, as you know, the awards season has started and you’ve already bagged an award (By the way, congratulations!). However, awards in the Hindi Film industry are currently being scrutinized greatly. What’s your take on them—do you think they are credible?
The thing is that I feel that with awards what’s happened in India is that if you get it you’re happy and if you don’t you don’t really care. That’s kind of the attitude that people have, which is sad because I really feel that when there is some kind of appreciation for your work coming your way from within the industry or from an audience that polls in, those awards do exist but there are so many other categories that are created around the awards that truly need to be given because it’s all kind of become about the telecast of the event. The organizers want everybody to attend it and somewhere people have started feeling that because of a certain kind of bias-ness that had seeped into these awards that people stopped attending them. So everything’s caught in a vicious cycle right now. I really feel that people that organize these awards and select juries need to go back to the drawing board and re-evaluate what their award means and how they can bring it back to a slightly more dignified position. I feel what awards meant probably ten years ago they don’t quite mean the same thing right now to people who are not getting them. It’s nice to do work where you aspire to the fraternity recognizing you. If that impetus to do better and prove yourself, prove your talent doesn’t exist, it can be de-motivating at times. I think it’s important for these organizers and facilitators of these events to re-instill some dignity in these awards.
What do you think is the greatest thrill about being an actor?
I think probably the greatest thrill, but not only as an actor but for anyone working within the film industry or in cinema, is when people whose work you’ve respected and admired turn around and tell you that they have genuinely liked your work. I think that’s the biggest thrill, for me at least — when somebody whose work I’ve really admired turns around and tells me “I’ve really liked your performance” or “I really appreciated your film, I loved the way you wrote the dialogues” or whatever it may be. That for me is the biggest compliment that I can get for the work that I do.
Finally, how important is luck in daily life?
Of course it’s great for it to be on your side. But I don’t think it’s possible to be lucky if you’re not hard-working. I can’t imagine somebody getting lucky if they’re not constantly trying to improve themselves or to do better things. Luck only comes to people who are willing to work hard. So if you are willing to work hard at some point in life, an opportunity which you consider lucky will come your way.
If the promos are anything to go by Farhan’s performance in Luck By Chance should blow everybody away and firmly establish him as one of the best! We can’t wait to see the film! Seems Farhan has found his third calling in the film industry as an actor after writer and director, and we will be excited to see what he will wow us with next! We here at BollySpice.com wish him Luck for the release and for all his upcoming projects!