Some actors should reduce their prices: Farhan Akhtar
He started his journey in Bollywood in 2001 with Dil Chahta Hai. As filmmaker-actor Farhan Akhtar completes 15 years in the industry, we chat with him about films and more.
Lately, you have been acting more frequently than directing…
There’s a conscious decision in this because of the kind of work that I am getting. Be it films that I did just before Wazir, like Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara (2011), Bhaag Milkha Bhaag (2013) or Dil Dhadakne Do (2015), I have been every excited about being a part of these films. As long as that feeling is alive, I think it’s nice. The kind of films I am in conversation with people for, will also help me grow as a film student and eventually when I direct my next film. It will happen in its own time when I am ready and excited about the film.
There has been a lot of talk about intolerance in India. What’s your take?
If you tell me that we are living in a place where people are in absolutely ‘live and let live’ mode, then I would disagree with you because that’s not what we see, hear or read. There’s a certain kind of balance that needs to be struck. In my humble opinion, people’s sensibilities get offended a bit too easily. As people who are artists and at some level as a part of their job, they have to reflect on what’s happening around them and in society and speak up for it if they choose to, it’s important to understand why they are doing it as opposed to attack them for doing it. I feel that’s crucial. People who have been around for many years, they don’t need to create noise to get attention.
Are you hinting at actor Aamir Khan’s comments?
Yes, for an example.
Also, a lot is being said about the importance of women empowerment…
It has been going on for years, and it is good. I think it is important for people to speak their mind, it is important for them to say what they are going through in their lives, and to share it with people. Only then, will you realise what more and more people, who you would imagine are in a very comfortable space, have to face. That makes you realise that there is a huge battle to be fought.
On that note, do you advocate equal pay for female actors, something that the likes of Anushka Sharma, Priyanka Chopra and even Jennifer Lawrence have spoken about?
I personally find it a slightly complicated subject. It is very tough to answer this in a simple yes or no. One is equating one’s remuneration to the amount of work someone else does. Does an actor, who works the same amount as a male actor, deserve less money? And then, of course, another thing is the box office. Certain people’s films draw larger crowds, so they demand more money, as they are getting in more people. It’s a very big debate, but I guess, some kind of logical solution can be cracked. In my opinion, if at all there has to be equal pay, some actors should reduce their prices. That would be a good start (laughs).
Alia Bhatt wants to do a female version of Dil Chahta Hai. Would you like to do it?
Absolutely, how nice would that be. It is a wonderful idea. I will wait for her call (smiles). It would be nice to do that.
And she feels the possible casting could include her, Parineeti Chopra and Shraddha Kapoor…
What will I do then? Sab kuch toh decide ho chuka hai (everything has already been decided)(laughs).
What’s more emotionally stimulating — direction or acting?
It’s very tough question to answer; maybe even impossible. Eventually, on some level, it serves the same purpose — the ability to tell a story. Whether you are director, editor, music composer or actor, when you watch a film, it becomes the collective experience of having made something. That feeling is the same for everyone involved.
Have you come to terms with the limelight that you face as an actor?
We have been seeing it since we were kids. We’ve always reacted to the cast of a film, and didn’t know what movie directors looked like. That’s part and parcel of what we do. It comes with the job. And the kind of love you get is wonderful. I appreciate it. I feel it takes a lot of courage — since I have also been a fan — to go up to someone and talk to them, even if it is only for 40-45 seconds.
Are you okay with the paparazzi culture?
It’s all part and parcel of our job. It’s not possible to pick and choose what you like and what you don’t. You have to deal with it. At times, it works for you, and at other times, it goes against you. They write things that make sense to you, but sometimes, it doesn’t. What can you do? There are only that many battles you can choose to fight. Others aren’t worthy of spending one’s time and energy on.
But still, you aren’t considered as ‘social’ as other actors or directors…
To be honest, I don’t go out that much anymore. I did for the first three-four years, when I was getting to know everyone. When I usually go out, it’s either for a shoot, for music-related work, or something to do with a film that I am working on. Maybe, that’s why people feel that I am missing (smiles).
Would you call yourself a private person?
Everyone likes a certain amount of privacy. Some people enjoy it more than others. I guess I am in the second category.