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His Laqshya!

From production to direction to writing to singing and acting… You name it, he’s done it all. And with such élan! Farhan Akhtar is in the news not only for his acting talent, which he amply displayed in his last venture, Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara, but also for the teaser of his next directorial venture, Don 2. He discusses with Sagorika Dasgupta, the compliments he’s been showered with and what’s in store for him as an actor as well as a filmmaker

As an actor, what’s the response been like for Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara (ZNMD)?

It’s amazing! I mean, apart from the fact that you want your work to be appreciated. Sometimes, a reaction can surpass your expectations. I don’t think it has sunk in completely.

Are you flooded with more acting offers now?

People have noticed another facet in my personality. The roles I have done so far have been of an intense and serious person. Now, this film has added another dimension to the actor in me. So, suddenly, a lot more people are coming to me with scripts. (Laughs)

Is acting now a priority over direction?

Not really! The challenge for me is to be able to balance both these passions.

Will we see you working with other producers too?

(Smiles) Actually, there are a lot of interesting people I am meeting right now. Established producers as well as people wanting to start their own productions. So the day may not be far when you see me in a film that’s not produced by Excel. There are a couple of films that I have okayed. One of them is, of course, Abhishek Kapoor’s next. Apart from that, I don’t want to plan too far ahead because you need to stay enthusiastic for a film when it comes around. If I say yes to a film that’s going to start a year and a half later, who knows what I will feel about it then?

You have been a part of almost every aspect of filmmaking — from production to acting to directing to writing and singing. Is there any other facet you would like to explore?

No, I don’t think so. After this, everything else gets into the technical space. You need a certain degree of education to be able to do those things successfully. I am more interested in the wholistic view of the film. So writing, directing and now performing, which brings a certain individual satisfaction.

How about choreography? Since we saw you shake a leg with Hrithik Roshan in ZNMD?

(Laughs) No, I don’t think so. I do enjoy dancing but choreography is a whole different ball game. Also, it’s important to know when you’re ready to do the stuff. Like, we recently had a screening to celebrate the tenth year of Dil Chahta Haiand people asked me why did I not do a part in the film.  The thing is I wasn’t ready then. When you are ready, it’s something you instinctively feel inside.

Almost every top actor in the industry is trying their hand at action…

Oh yes, I would love to do an action film. I am a huge fan of action movies, which also comes across in Laqshya and Don. I am actually hearing a lot of scripts, which have some action in it.

What type of action would you like to do?

Any kind of action, you know. I love adventure, sports. So, good, old-fashioned maar dhaad or high-adrenalin action. I am happy to do both.

What kind of response have you received for Don 2?

Again, I have received a lot of positive feedback from everyone. Apart from the people who write on some of the pages that we visit ourselves, I have met people from leading film websites, where people go online and leave their views. So within the first five days of the trailer being released, they had over 5 lakh hits. It is a first for a trailer and a teaser. In fact, it’s put a little pressure on me as well. (Laughs)

You know, it’s a film where I have deliberately kept the plot very simple. I don’t want people to get lost in a maze of what’s going on. I have focused on the character and a lot more on having some great action and thrills.

Don was a remake of a classic whereas, in Don 2, you had to take the story forward and conceive a whole new plot. Which was tougher?

Both have different pressures. To me, the big pressure in the first one was how to take a story that everyone knows and spin it around on its head so that you feel you are watching the same film but suddenly it’s not the same film by the end. But, of course, the challenge was whether people would say at the end, why did you have to end it like this?

You mean the twist in the end…

Yes, that was the biggest pressure. With Don 2, it’s completely different. With this film, the expectation is a lot less because it’s a different story and you are not messing around with anyone’s childhood memory. So I had more freedom to write this the way I wanted to. So the challenge was to get people as much into the character as the first one. You don’t want him to get so cold and so alienated from people that they lose touch with what he is thinking, feeling and what he wants. Your biggest connect in this film is with Shah Rukh’s character. So I wanted it to be smart and edge-of-the-seat all along. At the same time, I did not want it to be only about the escapade.

Also, in the credits of Don 2, SRK’s name appears as co-producer. Aamir Khan will also be co-producing Reema Kagti’s film…

After Laqshya (co-production with UTV Motion Pictures), the second co-production we are doing is with Aamir’s (Khan) company on Reema’s film. That is mainly since he is a producer himself and he has a production company. And he was looking to do something for his own production and he really liked Reema’s script. So he was, like, why don’t we produce it together? So I bring in my talent and we were more than happy to do it. At the end of the day, Aamir is someone who produces films and he deserves a huge fee for who he is. And I think it’s only fair of us to have this understanding with each other.

As far as SRK’s name in this film goes… he had not asked for it to be mentioned. In fact, he was pleasantly surprised to see his name in the credits of the film. But with him being on the film, and the relationship we have… ummm, it’s difficult to explain. When we shot in Berlin, they were very happy with Shah Rukh coming there to shoot a film. He has a huge fan base in Germany. We got easier access, and we got to meet the right people as they were eager to work with him. The same thing happened in Malaysia. So he was unconsciously involved more than just as an actor on this film. So both Ritesh (Sidhawani) and I thought it was only fair and he can’t be considered merely as an actor in the film.

Is this also a way to make actors more serious about a film?

No, I don’t think so. I mean, you’re talking about people who have been around for so many years. In fact, they have been around because they have been serious about what they do. So I don’t think getting credit as producer makes them more serious.

Ra.One will release just two months before Don 2. Will you be marketing the films simultaneously?

I don’t think so. The marketing campaign of Ra.One is going to kick off way before Don 2. The only thing that is out is the teaser of Don 2. Whatever Shah Rukh, Ritesh and I have discussed, it’s inevitable that when Shah Rukh goes out and speaks about his film, he will not be asked questions about both films. There has to be curiosity created for both the films.

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