He is what one would call as the brooding face of the Indian cinema’s present phase! He is the son of the master lyricist, Javed Akhtar. And it did not take time for Farhan Akhtar to move out of his father’s shadows and carve a niche’ for himself. The man was the centre of attention last year as he remade the 70’s hit Don with Shah Rukh Khan. Farhan will now be making his onscreen debut with The Fakir of Venice. He has also made a short film on AIDS for the Bill Gates Foundation and is working on the script of Don 2
Read on to find out what has kept the charming filmmaker busy for the past one year: Tell us something about the film on AIDS that you made for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. What is the story of the film?
Positive is a 12-minute film with no music, but its background score is by Ram Sampat. The film stars Boman Irani, Shabana Azmi and debutant actor, Arjun Mathur and the film was entirely shot in Mumbai. It talks about the importance of family’s support to a person suffering with HIV. Just as a social stigma, many people believe that a HIV patient should be isolated and have certain misconceptions about dealing with the disease. India has a lot of joint families. So, it’s very important for the families to understand the value of support to the person who has acquired this disease.
Considering the fact that there were other directors too, like Mira Nair, Santosh Sivan, Vishal Bhardwaj, whose film did u like the most and why?
It’s really difficult to say. But, the one that film that appealed to me visually was Vishal Bhardwaj’s. It’s a film that has a very strong and obvious optimistic message with a happy ending. I like the way it was done and visualized.
How did this entire deal happen? Who initiated it?
It was initiated by Mira Nair. It’s totally her project. She contacted me and asked me if I wanted to make one of the short films. And I was game for it.
Positive was also screened at the Toronto Film festival. How was the response?
Unfortunately, I was down with malaria; hence, I wasn’t able to make it. But, everyone who was there, including Mira have emailed me and told me that the film was very well received.
Will the movies get a theatrical release in India?
Currently, that is something we are working towards, as to how to go about bringing it to the theaters in India. Right now, we want to focus on December 1, since it is ‘World AIDS Day’. We are trying to get as many news and entertainment channels to air these films simultaneously. All these films deal with the very relevant issue of HIV awareness and how to deal with it, since the time is not far away, when India will become the world’s AIDS capital. So, it’s really high time that we take this issue very seriously.
What is the status of Luck By Chance, a film in which you are also acting as the lead and who is your leading lady?
We roll in the month of March.
You have already acted in The Fakir of Venice. Tell us something more about the film.
The film is complete and is in its final sound mixing stage. Anand Sorapur, the producer-director of the film desires to take this film and screen it for a couple of studios to the west. This film is basically a black comedy and about two characters, that’s Anu Kapoor (playing the fakir) and there’s me, in the role of a character called Adi Contractor, who works as a production coordinator, for shoots in India and is given the task of taking the Fakir to Venice for human instillation. The story takes on from there.
Dil Chahta Hai is getting digitalized. What’s the difference between the original and the digital version of Dil Chahta Hai?
The original version was a straight transfer of the negative to make a DVD, where as the latest thing is that we have recently done a high definition transfer, by which we have cleaned the entire print on a Digital Intermediate (DI). So, now, the resultant picture is a lot cleaner without any marks, scratches or dust. We have also redone the picture, remastered the sound as per today’s available technology. So, it’s just a fresher picture and sound.
So, does that mean that all the films from the Excel stable will be digital?
Subsequently, after Dil Chahta Hai, Don, Lakshya and Honeymoon Travels were on digital process. We could not do Dil Chahta Hai on a digital, coz’ this technology was not available then.
Whose idea was it to revive this film through digital prints?
All the negatives have a certain shelf life. So, when the negative is kept in the lab, even under the best of conditions, there will be a certain effect of aging on the negative. So, the best way to preserve your film in its best form is to be able to do it digitally. And since Dil Chahta Hai is a very precious film for all of us, we thought of doing it the digital way, coz’ if we ever need the film even 50 -75 years down the line, we will have the film then, with high standards.
The digitalized version is getting released in Germany…
As of now, it’s being released only in the German language in Germany. And when the re-release of Dil Chahta Hai DVD happens overseas as well as in India, we will be releasing the high-definition version of the same.
What can one look up to from Excel Films? And what’s the progress on the much talked about sequel, Don 2?
As far as the future projects of Excel Entertainment are concerned, we have an untitled film with Abhishek ‘Gattu’ Kapoor, which gets started in January, Zoya’s Luck By Chance starting in March, and my next project will start in September. As far as Don 2 is concerned, the story is done and it is in its screenplay stage.
Rumors are strong about the presence of Aamir in the film. Do you want to confirm this?
I have never heard about this rumor. I am hearing it from you from the first time.