From acting, singing, directing, writing to producing, Farhan has done it all and is a master craftsman.
Farhan Akhtar is the man of the moment. The actor has proved time and again that he can bring any character to life with love and finesse. From acting, singing, directing, writing to producing, Farhan has done it all and is a master craftsman.
The actor is also a transformational expert. Well, we mean he can ace rigorous physical training and can transform to portray a sportsman. He already proved his experience when he played sprinter Milkha Singh in director Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra’s biopic Bhaag Milkha Bhaag (2013). The duo has reunited once again for Toofan, in which Farhan Akhtar plays pugilist Aziz Ali. Written by Anjum Rajabali and Vijay Maurya, Toofan is based
on a story idea by Farhan Akhtar. The cast also includes Mrunal Thakur and Paresh Rawal.
We speak to the star of the show, Farhan Akhtar, about the movie, his physical transformation, and his movie choices.
Q: Did the role change the way you look at life?
A: No matter how prepared you are in life - be it with your education, you might have had a great start to your career because of the family you come from - I feel eventually life will test your character. It will see if you ared good, resilient, if you want something more than the others, etc. The movie is a lot about all of this. Boxing is vis-a-vis life. We must take away from this - forgiveness, acceptance, and regardless of difference - love is more than hate. Life, just like boxing, is brutal yet so beautiful. It is just different layers all coming together.
Q: Do you think movies should have an impact on society?
A: I do feel that cinema should in some way reflect the times we live in. But what ends up happening is that the movie reflects your experience of it. It will represent your hopes, what you want society to be, what the future should be like. So everything becomes very subjective. Every single movie that I worked on - shows what I took in through my life. We as filmmakers try to shine a mirror on something - infuse hope, write stories, or work on music, act, and I’m grateful that people believed in me. If I made movies like Zindagi Na Milegi Doobara or Dil Dhadakne Do, which talked about living life to your fullest, I experienced it in my life and channelized it through my work. We make things that start trends, but where did we get the inspiration for that? It was life. It is a strange kind of synthesis.
Q: Was it challenging for you to prepare for the role of a sportsman?
A: It isn’t easy, but the story is so inspirational that whatever roadblock comes up, we can overcome it. If you want it from your heart, you don’t think of how many hours the shoot will be or how far I have to go for a scene. When the sportsmen and athletics watch the movie, they need to know that the movie was made well. Our movie is representing a community, and so when they watch it - they should believe it.
Q: In all these years that you have been in the movie business, you have taken some established and complex issues and converted them into magical stories. Tell us a little about your process?
A: These things happen magically. One person never makes a film - all the films were magical because of the team behind them. When we hear something or read something - a particular explosion happens inside - and a voice tells us, ‘you better do this, or you will regret it.’ Then, you have to say yes. If that feeling doesn’t happen, you better say no. The magic is because of all these things falling together.
Q: Tell us a little about your transformation into your charachter in Toofan?
A: I didn’t know how to box before the film. I have liked boxing for a long time. Right from the Mike Tyson years, I have enjoyed watching the sport. And when we talk about boxing, it is impossible not to mention Mohammed Ali’s name. After signing up for the movie, I did a lot of research, learnt a lot about the sport. From George Foreman, Triple G, Anthony Joshua, Gypsy King, I learned a lot about the sport. But there’s a massive difference between appreciating a sport to doing it.
Q: Every character you have portrayed is extraordinary. How do you go about choosing your characters?
A: I think all the characters I play are ordinary. For example, Ajju in Toofan is a very average guy who goes on to do extraordinary things. The Chowdary family in The Sky Is Pink are all regular people who go to any extent to save their daughter. I think I play typical roles, but with incredible stories, my characters turned phenomenal.
Q: Tell us about your body transformation story.
A: I think this was one of the most complex transformations I had to do. My body is not used to that weight. I have never been beyond 74 kgs, and for this role, I had to be 85. It took everything to get there. I realized after a point; the needle was getting stuck. It was not the body but the mind that was refusing to get there. It took some working through to get there.
Q: How have your characters changed you in real life?
A: Eight months of Toofan has changed me a lot - as a person and an actor. All experiences in life- teach us something - alter us somehow. Dil Chahta Hai, Rock On, Bhaag Milkha Bhaag- have in some way changed who I am, and all my characters have taught me a lot on a subconscious level. More importantly, I think I go through creative evolution.