It’s difficult to know what comes to my mind first when I think of Farhan Akhtar – the director, the actor, the producer, the writer or the singer. Then you think of him as one of the sexiest men alive. He’s handsome, he’s talented. There’s no disputing the man has got what it takes to be successful. But when one meets Farhan and talks to him, it’s clear that he works on pure instinct. Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara was born out of that. Farhan’s greatest skill as an actor is his versatility; his ability to play many things at one time: incredulity with an undercurrent of self-referential humour, pathos with warmth, triumph with a hint of frailty; whatever the combination, there are always many levels to what he is conveying. To this day, I will always believe that it was Dil Chahta Hai that broke the many norms of filmmaking thus making it one of the best coming of age movies from India I’ve ever been a witness to. Will Zindagi Milegi Na Dobara tread the same path? I don’t know. All I know is that Excel Entertainment is a proof that Farhan Akhtar has come of age. Thrilled to be a part of Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara, the actor had a detailed chat about the humour, his unadulterated vision, his fondness for music and singing, his wait for his father to write a script after ages, the beautiful Kalki and Katrina and that thing called the tomato.
“For me, ZNMD is interesting because there’s a lot of humour in the film”
Well, let me tell you, ZNMD is an exciting film. For me, ZNMD is interesting because there’s a lot of humour in the film. After having done Rock On, Karthik Calling Karthik, Luck By Chance, etc this is a predominantly a serious movie. So we added that extra dose of humour because it has fun and vibrant characters. Zoya being a very good director there was a lot of meaning to it at the end.
“Our vision was very unadulterated and clear”
When it comes to business, I don’t think I am the best person you should be speaking to. When I see the film now after having been in the process of making it along with my friend and producer Ritesh and sister director Zoya, I don’t think it was possible to make ZNMD in any other way. Our vision was very unadulterated and clear. To me the story of ZNMD works really well and so is its music. The film balanced itself out.
“Abhay has a fantastic library of music that I kept taking from him”
Abhay Deol is a bit eccentric. He is moody (laughs). But at the same time he loves having fun. He loves his music very much and is a gadget freak. I really gel with people like Abhay. He has a fantastic library of music that I kept taking from him. A fabulous actor without doubt, Abhay has done a marvellous job and a film that is so different from all the others he has been a part of. It’s a different Abhay you will see in ZNMD.
“There wasn’t any scope for me to sing more songs in ZNMD”
I haven’t sung enough songs in ZNMD except that one song. But honestly, there wasn’t really any scope for me to sing too. I am glad that people have connected to the music and I am not complaining. As far as my audiences wanting me to sing more, well, I’ll have to see which film gives me an opportunity to in the near future (laughs).
“ZNMD tells you that life can’t be rigid. You need to enjoy it too”
The good thing about the script is that when the actors read it, it wasn’t preachy. With the story unfolding you start getting the sense of how these guys are changing and how they plan to go from one place to another to another. Life can’t be rigid too. So when they meet Katrina’s character and she shows them another side to life, they accept it. They visit the Tomatina festival and experience it. Little moments like these add up to the whole. Life is going to thow opportunities at you, hurdles will come but you have to experience all. ZNMD is about all the wonderful experiences that we have completely unplanned.
“Yes, coming of age was done ten years ago with Dil Chahta Hai”
Yes, you’re right when you said that coming of age was done ten years ago with Dil Chahta Hai. But there is so much one can explore in the spectrum of any individual life. Think about the number of movies on various human emotions. Now if you count the number of emotions overall, there may be only seven or eight of them. There aren’t that many. The art lies in talking about a new person or a new pattern in a human being that you haven’t seen before. The emotions in ZNMD are the same but the issues are really different which is what makes it special.
“I can’t wait for the day when my father will write a script for Excel”
It’s been a couple of years now that I am telling my father Javed Akhtar to write scripts. Hopefully soon I will definitely urge him to get on it (laughs). As of now he is happy in what he is doing. I can’t wait for the day when he will write a film for Excel.
“To me, not tried and tested isn’t niche. To me, not tried and tested is new and fresh”
To me, not tried and tested isn’t niche. To me, not tried and tested is new and fresh. That’s how I see it. It’s very important to tell you a story about people that you probably have no idea about the bunch of people what they’ll be doing and where they’ll be landing. We try and push certain creative boundaries, slowly but surely. We are also creating space for other filmmakers to come to Excel to tell their different stories. Excel is working with the best there is possibly in the business and that comes not because Excel makes niche films but because we make new and fresh films with a lot of heart.
“People are going to love Kalki and Katrina in the film”
I know for the fact that people will surely appreciate Katrina’s performance in ZNMD. They will really love Kalki as well. She is growing with each film she is doing. When we have our focus screenings, it’s great to know how people react to their performances. Apart from talking about how big the star is, all the people have liked the individual performances and that’s what I am proud of