Chit Chat

I take advice from SRK: Farhan

That’s because he switches off his phone at night. 36-year-old Farhan Akhtar also admits to being unsociable when working and not liking romantic films unless they come laced with drama. All this and more about the man who redefines cool
There are all these rumours linking you to your Karthik calling Karthik co-star Deepika Padukone which the two of you protest at every opportunity. Are you not overdoing it?

Honestly speaking, I can only speak for myself. Initially I didn’t protest, I thought it would blow over naturally. But then it began to get awkward and in very bad taste and that is when I started protesting. Then one thing led to another and now again I am tired of protesting. I also feel that now that we are pretty much coming to the end of the promotion of Karthik Calling Karthik and you will see us spending a lot of time with other people as opposed to each other, it will blow over.

Do such rumours affect you a lot?
It’s important for me because it affects my family. It’s weird for me to answer to my nine-year-old daughter who sees something on TV or reads a headline in a newspaper. Children tend to stress about these things a lot more than we understand. When I wasn’t addressing the issue she couldn’t understand why I was denying something to her but not telling the rest of the world. So to me it was important to come out and talk about it.

My daughter couldn’t understand why I was denying something to her but not telling the rest of the world.

What’s with this schizophrenic behaviour you display? You are usually a party boy but when you work, either when acting or directing, you become all reclusive and incommunicado?
The thing is, and most of the people I know also say this, I am an extremist. When I am working I don’t want to know about anything else. When I want to party, I don’t want to work. So when I go on a holiday, more often than not, I won’t answer my phone. I really have to be pushed to deal with work when I am on a holiday. Similarly when I am working on the script of a film, I really don’t want to go out, I don’t want to do things which are going to takeaway my energy from what I really should be focusing on.

What influences you and your work?
Having kids has made me more aware of life beyond myself. I am aware that my choices will affect them even when I am not around. That also affects my work because my sensibilities and aesthetics have changed. I have grown up with women predominantly and that has led to me having a very healthy respect for them in terms of the treatment of them. I have an allergy to women being shown in a crude light, to be shown in almost a sexist way. I have had these allergies in any case; it has got a little more underlined now with kids. When they see my films, I don’t want them to think that dad is doing anything cheap.

Do you think your dad’s (Javed Akhtar with Salim Khan) films reflected the same concern?
Salim uncle and my father had a healthy respect for women. But because while they were writing, there was a lot more formula cinema, it was a requirement of the story that they had to write in a vamp, which you don’t necessarily need to do anymore. If there was a villain, he had to have a vamp. Similarly when I write Don, I go back to that kind of writing, Don had Isha in his life. How we treat the character can be different from how molls and vamps were treated at that time. But when you go back to that kind of writing, it’s a different world and it’s a different sensibility of filmmaking but within that you still want to treat them with a certain dignity. You can’t caricature them and make them one dimensional.

For Don you had a blueprint of sorts to follow. How does Don 2 take the character forward?
For me, Don’s character hinges on his cunning and smartness and the fact that he is playing all the characters in the film and at the same time, he also plays the audience. So, to me, the challenge is to do that again. Of course, you can do great action sequences, you can have great songs, a wonderful looking and talented cast who everybody wants to watch. But this time round, there is now no format to follow. To me that was exciting and what I am focusing again on is how to take Don to almost level two. This film is more of a caper to me than an emotional journey.

And how many ‘mulk ki police’ will be looking for him in Don 2?
Now I think it’s the whole world. Only Antarctica aur Arctic ki police uske peeche nahi padi hai.(laughs)

Could you ever do a mush film? A romcom?
Very honestly I must say that the romcom is one of my least favourite genres, even to watch. There are some of course, which I do thoroughly enjoy but they are very few and far between. Personally, I prefer drama, action and thrillers. If it’s a romance I would much prefer a classic romance like a Romeo and Juliet which has drama in it.

You work with actors as a director and compete with them as an actor. How do you differentiate between the two?
The people that I have worked with are the ones that I am good friends with and I do spend a lot of time with. One is obviously Hrithik and the other is Shah Rukh. Hrithik and I have known each other for really really long. We have been friends from way before I decided I wanted to be in films (he kind of always knew he wanted to be in films). So my friendship with him is beyond actor-director, whatever.

With Shah Rukh, I really started hanging out with him post Dil Chahta Hai. I feel a certain kinship with him. We have similar joys in terms of technology, we jam on many things. And many a times he has been someone I have turned to for advice. He is someone I have almost started feeling over time, again without sounding cheesy, like an elder brother. I know for a fact, not that he has told me so, that he is someone I can really count on, if the need arises. Even if we choose in the future to not work together, we will still hang out, we will still be friends.

For me, Don’s character hinges on his cunning and smartness and the fact that he is playing all the characters in the film and at the same time, he also plays the audience

Today’s actors pay a lot of attention to body and hair, the externals basically. Yesteryear actors looked almost the same in every film but it didn’t affect the strength of their performance. Comment.
I completely agree and I think it should go back to being how it was. Because I think, we are slowly but surely working towards this perfect world that everybody should exist in, which is not true. If there is someone on screen who is even relatively chubbier, immediately reviewers say he needs to lose a couple of pounds. Why? Doesn’t someone who is chubbier have a right to fall in love with someone? I find it disturbing that we are trying to make a Utopian world where great looking people and great bodies fall in love and nobody else has a right to.

Anyone who is skinny or bald or has a stammer or is fat is relegated to being a comedian, a character who needs help. I find this really disturbing. Did anyone stop to question why people fell in love with Sanjeev Kumar? It’s a dangerous obsession because it’s going to start limiting talent that’s coming in.


Rate Shah Rukh Khan, Aamir Khan, Hrithik Roshan and yourself on a scale of one to ten on the following parameters

Communication skills
SRK – 15
Aamir – 10
Hrithik – 8 or 9
Myself – 5

Life of a party
It is difficult to rate this in numbers. SRK and Hrithik are very funny. Both of them love dancing so once the party kicks off, they are always dancing. Aamir is a lot more reserved. In all honesty, I haven’t partied with Aamir since Dil Chahta Hai
SRK – 10
Aamir – 5
Hrithik – 10
Myself – 8 or 9

Easy to direct
Honestly, they were all very easy to direct.
ALL – 10

Willing to admit to mistakes
Again, I think, I would give all of them 10 and that’s what makes them good at what they do. I know for a fact that I can be stubborn about certain things.

Emotionally giving
I spend a lot more time with Hrithik and Shah Rukh than I do with Aamir. So it will be really difficult for me to say anything about Aamir on this front.

Extempore speakers
SRK- 10
Aamir – 5
Hrithik – 8
Myself – 5

Aware of the world
All of us are pretty aware of what’s happening in the world around us, so I would probably rate them just up there. Even if we want to detach ourselves from what’s happening around us you media people don’t let it happen. There is no escape. So 10 on 10 for everyone

Be a 3am friend
My friendship is more with Hrithik and Shah Rukh than it is with Aamir. My relationship with Aamir is a lot more professional than personal so to put him into this equation feels very weird as it’s unfair to him.

Myself – 0
I switch off my phone when I sleep, I love my sleep. I think I don’t qualify for this.

Politically correct
SRK-3 or 4, mostly he says what he feels
Hrithik- 10
Myself- 7 or 8, I have the knack of saying wrong things as well

SRK- 10
Hrithik- 8, He has changed a lot from what he was to what he is now

Animal Charm
Hrithik -10
Both of them are very attractive people.
Myself – I don’t know about myself (laughs) how do I rate myself on animal charm?


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