He may have got plenty of help from the Salim-Javed storyline of the original Don (1978) while scripting Don: The Chase Begins Again with Shah Rukh Khan, but for the sequel, Farhan Akhtar admits he’s starting afresh. “Because it was a remake the story had to be somewhat similar. But for Don 2, it was like starting with a clean slate. I had the opportunity to do whatever I wanted to with those characters,” says Farhan.
But it is his next release as an actor, Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara (ZNMD), that is getting his attention these days. “Zoya’s (director, sister Zoya Akhtar) film is releasing on July 15, and we want to leave no stone unturned. So Don 2 is on hold for a while, even through all the preparatory work is done. It will release in December as planned,” says the actor-director.
Ask him if Don 2 may get lost in the crowd, given Bollywood’s packed schedule for December and that SRK’s Ra.One would appear at the same time, Farhan retorts, “Ours is a much awaited film, and there’s been a healthy buzz about it even without a single promo on air. I don’t think it’s risky at all. The year-end is a great time to release a film.”
ZNMD, meanwhile, has been racking up comparisons to Farhan’s cult directorial debut Dil Chahta Hai (2001) and Hollywood hit The Hangover (2009). “Of course ZNMD will be reminiscent of Dil Chahta Hai. It has three guys, a car that’s playing an important role, and one of them finding love along the way on the road trip. But it’s unfair to compare them, because the stories are completely different, and so are the characters. As for The Hangover, I didn’t know they had a copyright over bachelor trips,” he laughs.
Farhan also lights up at the mention of ZNMD’s extended shooting stint in Spain. “It didn’t feel like a staged road trip because we actually did travel that much,” he says, adding, “We shot at about 107 locations and stayed at 12 to 13 different bases.”
He’s even sung a song in the film, but that didn’t feature in Farhan’s recent Pond’s Fun in the Sun concert in the city, where he belted out hits from Rock On!! (2008). “I wanted to play songs that people were familiar with. Maybe once the music releases, we’ll plan an event of this sort,” he says hopefully.
‘It’s best to just ignore rumours’
It was alleged in sections of the press that Farhan Akhtar was having an affair with one of his assistant directors. Enraged at that time, he had decided to take legal action. He had said, “I’m surprised and upset by the complete disregard of the sense of ethics and lack of sensitivity. The article is nothing but misleading and the statements and insinuation made by the author have no basis in fact.”
However, Farhan has now decided against filing the case. “Not only will I have to keep going to court, but I’ll also have to keep seeing them constantly, which is not something I’m interested in,” he says, adding, “This is not the first, but it’s been getting more and more ludicrous every time it happens. I felt they had gone too far this time.”
The actor-director justifies his earlier outburst by saying, “Whatever rumours have been published earlier, people have had the courtesy to ask me for my side of the story.
“This time, they didn’t even bother to do that. Anyway, I think it’s best to just ignore it now.”