Farhan Akhtar is living the rockstar life. The actor-director is now concentrating on a musical career, and has also spent a record one-and-a-half years training to play Milkha Singh in his upcoming film Bhaag Milkha Bhaag, finds BHUMIKA K.
What started with Rock On!! and continued in Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara is taking Farhan Akhtar on a completely different track. After having sung altogether eight songs in the two films, he’s now onto what looks like a serious musical career. I mean, he’s formed a band!
In Bangalore recently for a rock concert for college students Karbonn Colossus 2013 organised by Presidency College, Farhan spoke to the media of forming his own band Farhan Live over two months ago. “After Rock On!! I wanted to further explore the musical side of things…we felt the time was right, young people in colleges listen to very different kinds of music,” he said of his decision. Farhan Live has been doing gigs in various parts of the country for over two months now.
Always interested in music
Dismissing the idea that his interest in music is a recent phenomenon, Farhan said, “I’ve been interested in music as far as I can remember. In fact a teacher came home and taught singing and playing the harmonium when we were kids. But I was more of a Beatles person. By the time I was 17 or 18, I seriously started playing the guitar…I taught myself to play it. But Rock On!! gave me a valid reason to take my music seriously. All that jamming is coming to good use now.”
Farhan is one of those rare species in Bollywood who’s multifaceted enough to be a director, actor, producer, scriptwriter, playback singer, lyricist… Isn’t he taking on too much? “I don’t know…how is it a limitation, how can people put a limit on themselves?” he counters. Starting out in the Hindi film industry as an assistant director on Lamhe, Farhan turned director with the coming-of-age film Dil Chahta Hai. The film re-set the course of Hindi films in 2001 — it was his first independent directorial venture and from his own production house. He was 27.
The Javed effect
The influence his father, screenwriter and lyricst Javed Akhtar has on him? “He’s 50 per cent of my genes!” he laughs before continuing “A prolific writer, he was always supportive and never overbearing and always gave me and my sister (filmmaker Zoya Akhtar) the courage to go out and try things without wondering if it’ll work.” Brother and sister have also worked together on Luck By Chance and ZNMD.
After helming the rather-successful Don 2 last year, a sequel to the remake of the immensely popular Don, Farhan took up a rather challenging project. He is pushing the envelope with his next release, the much talked-about Bhaag Milkha Bhaag, a biopic of the athlete Milkha Singh known as The Flying Sikh, which will release this July.
Farhan has been in rigorous training to look the part of the man who clocked 45.60 seconds in the 1960 Summer Olympics in Rome. It’s rather unheard of in Bollywood that an actor dedicates that kind of time for one film. “I’ve actually worked on the film for over one-and-a-half years. That’s what the film required for me to do justice to it. I was committed to do it, if that’s what it takes.”
Farhan calls it an “intense experience” and says it’s difficult to put in a few words the kind of preparation he’s been doing. “What I did helped me push myself to recreate a legend like Milkhaji and it’s extremely satisfying.” Milkha Singh also gifted Farhan his Olympic shoes. “It’s my most-prized possession. It’s what he wore and ran in the 1960 Olympics. It was restored by the shoe-maker. He gifted it to me as a good-luck mascot.”
Coming back to his music, Farhan says the band is currently performing previously written material. “We’re in talks for collaborations, then hope to work with a music producer to put out original work and do collabs as well. I would like to explore the electronic music side, and hope to work with the brilliant Shankar Mahadevan, Karsh Kale, Medieval Punditz…it’s a good time, when others want to know about Indian music,” he says. “We are also meeting with Deep Purple on March 14 in Nepal, and we’ll decide what we’re doing. It’s an amazing thought just to share stage with them – I’ve been to two of their concerts in India… and we’re planning to do about two songs together now.” The band is also working on integrating technology and live-tweeting their concerts.