He began his Bollywood journey in 2001 by directing Dil Chahta Hai, but Farhan Akhtar made his acting debut only in 2008 with Rock On. Since then, he has worked with several new directors. Here, the actor-filmmaker talks about collaborating with fresh talent, sharing screen space with Amitabh Bachchan, and more.
You have worked with several new directors.
You want to try your best [at whatever you do]. You learn this from the experience of having worked with different people. I was also a new director at one point in time, and I, too, went to actors who were established. Even they took a chance with me, thinking, “This guy has got a good script. Let’s go ahead and do it.” I can’t forget that, and that’s why I can’t base my decision to do a film on the reasoning that, “From now on, I will only work with established directors.” That is not correct. If I get to work with some well-established directors, then that is great, but I can’t stop listening to the ideas coming from the new lot of writers and directors.
Do you find any difference in the approach of the newer crop of directors?
They bring something new to the table that hasn’t been said the way they say it — be it Abhishek (Kapoor), Vijay Lalwani or Zoya (Akhtar; sister-director). You know when a director has come to you, and is enthusiastic, prepared and passionate about what he or she has. Then you know that it (the film) is going to go well.
So, do you prefer working with new talent?
There is no such rule. I guess the most established director I have worked with till now is Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra (on Bhaag Milkha Bhaag; 2013). I am in talks with many different directors — some new and some established — and the talks are based purely on the material we are collaborating on. That’s most important. At the end of the day, you get involved in a film in the first place because of the script, and then you meet people on the sets. You can’t just go on the sets, and then decide what you and your favourite person are going to make.
Has it been exciting to go back to the music world with the sequel to Rock On?
Yes, there are certain films like Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara (2011) that belong to a particular space, in which you know you can have a lot of fun. The world of music allows you that. To create songs, your life ought to have gone through certain experiences. You also need to have a good understanding of emotions, so that you can pen them down.
How different was it for you to direct Amitabh Bachchan in Lakshya (2004), and then act with him in your recent release?
For me, it was completely different. As a director, you are, of course, focusing on his performance and on the scenes. But you are also thinking about the camera, design, the other actors and your edit. So, various things are going on at that time. But when you are acting with him, you are only thinking about the character. It was surreal when we started shooting for our last film. Fortunately, he gave us a lot of time to do the readings. But the first few hours of just hanging out with him and rehearsing were very surreal.
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