The F Word

Farhan Akhtar on films, friends and family  

Posted: 22.07.14

The gorgeous Farhan Akhtar was in London last week as part of the London Indian Film Festival. The Film Director turned Actor has played a significant role in shaping contemporary Indian cinema and as part of the festival’s 5th birthday celebrations, Farhan was invited by the British Film Institute to feature in a Masterclass Q & A session with the Editor of Sight & Sound Magazine, Nick James. Addressing a full-house of fans Farhan discussed his career to date, performed a snake dance on stage, sung live to the title track of his film Rock On!! hugged a toddler and shook hands with a fan, whilst giving reactions to selected film clips from his best-known pictures. Asiana caught up with Farhan before he took to the stage where we quizzed him about things beginning with the letter F…

When we were growing up, we always had actors in our house. Some of them were screen legends but my sister Zoya and I were too shy to talk to them! The actor who left me the most star-struck was Amitabh Bachchan. I loved his character in Don, the fact it was so dark, I was surprised that this actor I had loved so much for so long was now scaring me in the role he was playing.

At college I was one of those students who never attended class – I was at the cinema instead. I used to watch a lot of movies at a picture house called New Talkies and would go to festivals and watch Jackie Chan films. Working in films was never intentional. I was at home unemployed and one day my mum said I had to get a job. The first one I found was working as an Assistant Director on a film – the lowest rung of the film ladder but I learnt a lot, wrote a lot and eventually turned to directing.

Farhan in conversation with Nick James at the BFI

Friends have always been important to me, especially when I was younger and my parents were getting divorced, it was my good friends that I turned to as they were the only people I could talk to. I used to go on a lot of roadtrips with my friends too – they’ve always been important and that’s why friendship is such a central part of Dil Chata Hai and Zindagi Na Milege Dobara. Friends to me are people you are comfortable around, especially in silences. Whatever is going on, you can just be relaxed in each other’s company.

A lot of people asked me how I got so fit and in shape for my role in Bhaag Milkha Bhaag. I never once found it difficult in not wanting to do it. The Director was so passionate, he had a real vision and belief and wanted to do the film so much, that I didn’t want to let him or Milkha down and that was my focus – to do it for them.

Farhan getting mobbed by his UK fans

When I started up the campaign Men Against Rape and Discrimination I didn’t have a plan I just felt it was important to educate the younger generation of boys in India how to treat and respect women. At the moment we have joined up with an NGO called Magic Bus which is taking our message to over 40 colleges asking students to become ambassador for the campaign. They will also mentor young people about gender equality. For now I want to see how we can develop our work but it’s something I aim to be more involved in when I can see what needs to be done.

Momtaz Begum-Hossain

Images: London Indian Film Festival 2014

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