'A master of all trades', when we recently caught up with Farhan Akhtar at a suburban studio for his upcoming film, the actor was all calm and composed.
Somewhere between the conversation, he admitted that he hasn't caught up with any of the recent releases. But that doesn't deter from speaking about the changing tastes of audience in cinema.
Excerpts from the interview-
'I Give My Suggestions To A Film Not Because I Am A Director'
Q. 'Qaidi Band' which released a few weeks ago had a similar theme to Lucknow Central. What's your take on it?
A. I have not seen that film, so I am not aware of the plot of that film. We have complete faith on the content of this film.
Q. How confident are you about the Lucknow Central?
A. I am confident that it is a good film. I am very happy and proud of the film that Ranjit has made as a first time director. When you watch the film, it doesn't even for a second feel as if it is a new director. I am happy about the way film has shaped up. I am happy about the way people have responded to the trailer
Q. Did you give any suggestions to the director while shooting for the film?
A. That's a part of acting. When I direct films, actors give me suggestions. Film-making is a collaboration and everyone gives their suggestions. That's a part of film making and I give suggestions not because I am a director myself, but because I am a part of the film
Q. What made you take up Lucknow Central?
A. I can't remember last time there was a film like this. It was exciting for me to play a guy from small town in Lucknow because my family has a connection with Uttar Pradesh. Although not with the jail, but with the city (laughs).
I felt very nice that I could go to a film which is set in Lucknow. Ranjit had done a lot of research about the social demographics, attitude, and all those stuff, which was very helpful. To get the local flavour, I had a diction coach. It was a lot of fun to be a part of this film. As far as jail is concerned, I didn't want to know about the lives in jail as I wanted to keep an element of discovery intact.
'There Is A Demand From The Audience For Good Stories'
Q. What do you think is going wrong with the Hindi film industry off late?
A. I think what is important is the content. There is a demand from the audience of telling them good stories. Film-making is actually story telling in an audio visual format. In the mist of all the window dressing and all the hungama that can be created on screen, we should not forget the fact that we are telling a story.
People have tried to create something spectacle wherein they didn't pay a lot of attention to the writing. The audience is telling us, we are spending a lot of money to watch a film, please give us something which is worth it. The story can be set in India or outside India, it should be human and understandable.
'Rock On Was The Tipping Point For Me'
Q. You are an actor, director, music composer and singer. What is your favorite past time?
A. I have always enjoyed music and singing. I think Rock On was the tipping point for me as it gave me the opportunity to sing professionally for me. With singing, or rather if you want to get good with anything in life, you need discipline. You have to keep practicing. The schedule does not permit me to keep practicing as schedule does not allow me. It is not the easiest thing in world, but I feel really sad about it that I can't practice it everyday.
Q. Are you open to act in another biopic after Bhaag Milkha Bhaag?
A. If there is an amazing story that I come across, I am all game for that.
'I Will Direct Don 3 When I Feel Like Directing'
Q. What can we see you direct next? Will your next directorial be Don 3?
A. When I am ready. I will direct when I feel like directing. There is no script in mind as of now.
Q. How would you define commercial cinema?
A. I think the definition of what is considered mainstream keeps changing. That's what has been happening since ages. The definition of what is considered commercial will keep changing and it will never be constant.
These things are influenced by so many sources like the social environment, mood of the nation, mood of people etc. It will constantly keep changing and it is difficult to have one kind of definition for it. We should think for it as good films and bad films.
'You Need To Use Your Heart And Mind To Do A Film'
Q. Do you think it becomes easy for you to gauge the taste of audience given the fact that you are a director and producer?
A. Whatever I say in this interview is my perception of what is going wrong. No film-maker will ever know what the audience want as it is not possible. If a film-maker knew what audience wants, no film would ever flop. The audience demand is nothing but a guesswork on part of film-makers and it is based on brief history of what is working and what is not working in the past few years. If you start designing something just because it is working, it would fail. You need to use your heart and mind to do a film.
Q. Dil Dhadakne Do just about managed to break-even despite getting a lot of acclaim. Was it a case of budget gone wrong?
A. We (Excel) as a company are not wanting to compromise on the directors vision. Among everyone associated it is us who lose money on films, but you have only your belief to move on. Today we might not make money, but in the future there might be a film where we make a lot of money and life comes to a circle. Nobody in this industry sets out to make a bad film or a film that would not work at the box Office. Somewhere along the way, something goes wrong in translation and the film doesn't shape you as you expected. But you need to do your best and hope for the best.
Q. What are the factors you take into account while allotting budget to a film?
A. There is a certain understanding in terms of how universal the topic may be. If you feel that it is talking about not so universal issue or topic, you have to take certain educative guesses. At no point, should you compromise the vision of director.
Q. What's your take on the trend of actors refunding money to the distributors?
A. I definitely feel that if there is a loss of substantial amount, it is a good gesture for someone to do that. You are not here for just one film and you do have to maintain a long standing relation. When distributor make money, it is beneficial for you as well. If you can some how make it up to them, it is a great gesture as you don't want someone else to be miserable because of your mistake.
'Just After A Film's Release, You Are Too Close To The Film To Be Objective'
Q. How do you deal with box office failures? Do revisit the films to find out what went wrong or you just move on?
A. You do take some learning from every film that you do. Maybe the audience couldn't connect with it. But, it takes time for that too happen. Usually, when a film releases and if it doesn't do well, you are too close at that point to that film to have any kind of objective.
So, it takes a while. You don't necessarily need to watch the film again. But, you can understand from conversations that happen about the film and people whose opinion you would get to listen to. Then, you can arrive at some place as to why it didn't work. But, I don't think it affects your next film. Because, you are excited with whatever you are planning next.