Wednesday, Sep 28, 2022

‘Toofaan’ Gave Me An Opportunity To Push My Limits: Farhan Akhtar

Farhan Akhtar underwent intense training to prep for his film ‘Toofaan’ where he’ll be essaying the role of Aziz Ali aka Ajju Bhai, a goon who goes on to become a national-level boxer

‘Toofaan’ promises a cinematic storm with its high-on adrenaline boxing sequences

A director, actor, producer, writer, playback singer, and lyricist – Farhan Akhtar is among the few people in the Hindi film industry who have managed to don so many hats and been successful in all of them. In all the characters he has played, Farhan’s been able to achieve critical acclaim and commercial success. Recently, he underwent intense training to prep for his film ‘Toofaan’ where he’ll be essaying the role of Aziz Ali aka Ajju Bhai, a goon who goes on to become a national-level boxer, for his second film with director Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra, following another sports-based movie, ‘Bhaag Milkha Bhaag’ in 2013. 

‘Toofaan’ promises a cinematic storm with its high-on adrenaline boxing sequences, but Farhan Akhtar says the personal relationships of the character is the core of the sports-drama. He has much to tell…excerpts from an interview with Eshita Bhargava:

Working on the two sides of a character…

It was quite an adventure. It’s part of our job to work hard on a character – As an artiste, you are constantly looking at things that can inspire you, and challenge you to inhabit the skills of a character. ‘Toofaan’ gave me this wonderful opportunity to push my limits – not just in terms of getting fit, but even going completely out of shape for a certain part of the film. All the motivation that is needed comes from serving the story and I am thankful that Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra. I got a chance to collaborate on a film with him again. I trust him and his vision and that gives me a lot of confidence and comfort. 

Aziz Ali or Ajju Bhai? His favourite… 

Both have their share of fun moments… With Ajju Bhai, I got to do this whole ‘Bambaiya’ slang which I haven’t had a chance to do in any film. So, to play this character who thinks he is very cool and has a distinct lingo was fun. We’ve enjoyed watching such characters in movies in the past and to add my version to that genre was a great experience. With Aziz Ali, it was nice to tap into the more tender side and the more sensitive side of being a man. The personal relationships of the character are the core of the film.

Watch  full interview:


Digital debut as an actor…

I was never sceptical about the digital release because when we started making the film, everything was normal – there was no talk of Covid or murmur of any kind of virus that was going to disrupt our lives in the way it has in the last 18 months. This is the new normal and we have to accept it for what it is. We are fortunate that we live in a time where we can continue to do our work and share that with people in the safety and comfort of their homes. This option never existed seven years back. We have these OTT platforms as an outlet for our work and it’s a blessing. From my personal experience, I know that when we went into the first lockdown, to be able to watch things in the comfort of my home was something that kept me going. People watched things that kept them going, inspired them, made them feel optimistic about tomorrow as no one knew what’s going to happen. 

Yes, there is a certain selective joy in community viewing. However, what makes a film memorable or not is the story and experience you have emotionally while watching it. That doesn’t change with the medium.    

Working with Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra and saying yes to the script…

On this one, it worked the other way round… When we did ‘Bhaag Milkha Bhaag’, Rakeysh came to the office to meet me and he took me to the life of Milkha Ji in 25 minutes and I told him that I am 100 per cent on for this film. However, this time, I called him with the story of ‘Toofaan’ and he agreed to do the film. It’s a role reversal but there could not have been a better director and realizer of this idea than Rakeysh. He brings sensitivity, spirituality, and believability to the film. 

If OTT platforms will be taking over the silver screen…

Whenever someone tries to predict the future of anything, they inevitably go wrong. It’s driven by emotions and it’s difficult to predict how people are going to feel about the platforms in the future. But human beings are social animals – we function best when we collaborate when we work as a team. If going to the theatre, music concert, witnessing a match in the stadium, or going to the local fair is never going to go away because that gives us a certain kind of joy and a feeling of being a part of something larger than just our lives. 

But, will story-telling change because of what’s happened? I hope so. I do feel that OTT platforms have brought a certain kind of democratization where you look beyond the razzmatazz, the glitz, and glamour. As an audience, you want a strong story, and hopefully of watching meaningful content will stay. They don’t want to watch something that doesn’t make any sense to them and are appreciative of content that speaks to them in some way.   

On donning many hats…

I look forward to things when one task in hand is over. Like now when I am done with ‘Toofaan’, I am looking forward to directing again. I am also waiting for the live music scene to opening up again because there is such unbridled joy in being able to perform for an audience and I truly miss that wonderful relationship and synergy I have with my band and no amount of online performance can duplicate that. 

I just hope as and when I don any of the hats – I can do justice to the one I am wearing. 

‘Dil Chahta Hai’ remake…

The level of acting that we have now is really good – we have very versatile talents across the board. It would be great to collaborate with three young boys. But I am not sure if I would want to redo ‘Dil Chahta Hai’ with them – I might do something else. ‘Dil Chahta Hai’ has a certain place in my heart that I don’t want to mess with.