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Two of a kind

Oye, it’s Sunday! Zoya and Farhan Akhtar talk on with Nikhil Taneja.

entertainment Updated: Jan 19, 2009 17:24 IST

She: ‘It took me seven years to make my first film’
He: ‘I was sitting at home doing nothing for two years’

What’s your most cherished childhood memory of each other?
Farhan: I think mine would be scaring Zoya and Farah Khan with a horror rubber mask. (Laughs) Sajid (Khan) and I used to have so much fun scaring the girls.
Zoya: Farhan used to watch movies and then start acting like the hero. After seeing Die Hard, he pretended to be Bruce Willis. That was okay till he sprang up from a corner and socked me in my face!

Farhan:That’s your most cherished memory?
Zoya: (Laughs) It’s the most distinct one, I guess.

What is the best and worst thing about each other?
Zoya:
(Thinks) Farhan does a lot of stuff and does it well. He doesn’t just dabble in things, but he really works for them.. be it acting, direction, singing or even cooking and skydiving. But at times, he can ignore what’s going on around him.
Farhan: The ‘good thing’ about Zoya is her clarity of thought.. she is very rational and logical. She could work on her sensitivity factor though. She needs to let go off things that don’t affect her life personally.

What irritates you about each other?
Zoya:
Farhan is too disciplined and that’s irritating because I want to be a bit undisciplined. If you’re trying to get fit and you want to eat an ice cream, Farhan won’t let you eat it!
Farhan: Believe it or not, there’s nothing about her that irritates me.

So what’s similar and dissimilar between both of you?
Farhan:
(Points at his trousers) Affinity for the light brown colour.
Zoya: (Laughs) Even our last names are common, when you think of it.
Farhan: And the biggest dissimilarity has to be the gender.
Zoya: Ha! Apart from that, I’m messy.. but not dirty.. while he is a cleanliness freak. I work in chaos but he’s very organised.

Who’s the more spoilt one?

Farhan and Zoya: (Together) We both are!
Zoya: We are just one year apart, you know.. he’s younger.

What’s the one lie that’s used most often by each one of you?
Zoya: Well, if he does tell lies, I obviously won’t talk about it. In fact, he doesn’t lie any more.. but when he was a kid, he used to make up huge stories.. he would swear that a helicopter takes him to school and that he lands on the roof on a parachute!
Farhan: (Laughs) Yeah, I used to tell tall tales. Zoya doesn’t lie at all.

So Zoya, is there anything you made him do in Luck By Chance that Farhan wouldn’t have normally done?
Zoya:
(Laughs) Yeah, I made him wear tight ganjees and pose with his arms up. I think he’ll never do that again.
Farhan: There were certain things that I was mentally not comfortable with. Like.. you know.. the whole love song thing.. when you go to a hill and stand with your arms wide open. For me, that was the biggest challenge in the film. In fact, I asked both Hrithik Roshan and Rishi Kapoor on how to do it! It was strange.

The subject is about film strugglers. Did you both have to struggle for anything?
Zoya: (Matter-of-factly) Yeah! It took me seven years to make my first film, hello?
Farhan: See, everyone goes through the grind. I didn’t get a star launch as a director.. it’s important for me to have options and choose not to take them. There was a time when I was at home for two years doing nothing.

I didn’t struggle as much as Zoya did but making Dil Chahta Hai wasn’t the easiest thing in the world. It took me one-and-a-half years only to lock down Aamir Khan. Of course, when he came on board, everyone wanted to be in the film. But before that, I tried to understand all the aspects of filmmaking. On the outside, it all looks very
simple.. it isn’t.

What makes you say that?
Farhan: I’ll give you an example. Once, we were shooting with Hrithik for Lakshya, in Dehradun. Since we were using sync sound we needed silence, but a bunch of girls were screaming out to him.

We asked them to stay quiet because we were working, and they replied, “Working? We thought you were shooting!” So the general perception is that we go out for a picnic, have fun and somewhere along the line, a movie gets made.

Zoya, why was your first movie seven years in the making?
It isn’t a typical hero’s role, so it didn’t go down well with actors. They thought it wouldn’t work with the audience.. which was, at that time, completely different from what it is today. Thankfully, the audience tastes have changed.

Did Farhan step in as the lead to prevent it from being stalled?
Zoya:
The movie was not stalled, it was shelved. We revived it when he came in.
Farhan: Reema Kagti, our common friend, suggested my name to her. Then Zoya saw Fakir of Venice, my film with Anand Surapur and liked me in it.
When Zoya came to me for her other script Kismat Talkies. I said, “If I’m going to do something with you, it might as well be Luck By Chance.” I personally feel it’s her very personal script because it was the first one she wrote.

Zoya, in what way was it a personal script? You have grown up in show business, unlike your movie’s main characters.
Zoya:
I was always a blend of an insider and someone on its fringes. From Bombay Boys to Split Wide Open, I’ve always worked with directors who weren’t making movies only for the Indian audience. So with this movie, I’m actually trying to fit in the industry myself.

The promos suggest that you will be showing film industry stereotypes. Won’t that ruffle some feathers?
Farhan:
No.. because it’s not based on one person, it’s based on many people. The characters represent the job function of a producer or a director. We aren’t targetting specific people here.
Zoya: And hello? I’m a writer.. there’s a lot of fiction as well. I haven’t just put someone’s life up there.

If the roles had to be played by the real industry people, who would play which role?
Farhan:
(Laughs) You mean like Rakesh Roshan.. or Ritesh

Sidhwani as producers? You know, there’s a thing like casting which takes a very long time.
Zoya: I really never wondered if I could cast Subhash Ghai in the movie.
Suppose you were to make a film inspired by your own family.. would it be a drama.. or..

Zoya:
(Incredulously) You mean, like the K3G kinds?
Farhan: No, he means.. like The Incredibles. Yeah, that would be an ideal movie about us.