He may be neck deep in promoting his upcoming film, but actor Farhan Akhtar can’t stop himself from grabbing the TV remote at every possible opportunity to check on the status of rescue efforts in flood-ravaged Uttarakhand.
Chatting with us in his hotel room in Delhi, Akhtar’s pain at seeing the devastation caused by the natural calamity is all too evident.
“This is terrible,” he says, shaking his head. “My heart goes out to the victims ... I believe the death toll is much higher than what’s been declared yet,” he says.
We ask him if his sympathy would be limited to tweeting helpline numbers like a lot of his other Bollywood friends, and he stiffens up. “I’d be dishonest if I claim that I have done anything concrete yet. I’ve been totally occupied with promoting Bhaag Milkha Bhaag. But, if someone from the industry initiates a step to raise funds for the victims, I would be the first one to support it. Even during the Bihar floods in 2008, we did a charity concert and raised Rs 3.5 crore, 50% of which went to Shatrughan Sinha ji’s charity Prayas, and the rest to the Nargis Dutt Foundation.”
We veer the discussion towards the buzz around his film that releases July 12, and his eyes light up. “We’ve tried our best to make an honest film. People ought to know about what a sports legend like Milkha Singh Ji had to go through ... his struggle, his pain. Perhaps this will also draw attention to the absolutely pathetic state of sports infrastructure that exists in our country.”
Ask him why his heroine in the film, Sonam Kapoor, calls herself ‘just an accessory’ in the film and he says, “You’ll have to ask her why she said that. Her role in the film may be brief but it’s a very significant one. And anyway, who can ever think of Sonam Kapoor as just an accessory. I certainly can’t,” he chuckles.
How you can help
If you want to extend your support, you can make your contribution to the Prime Minister’s National Relief Fund (PMNRF). Donations can be made by cheque or draft in the name of “The Prime Minister’s National Relief Fund” and sent to the Prime Minister’s Office, South Block, New Delhi 110001. You can also make contributions online through www.pmindia.nic.in.