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The Importance Of Being Farhan Akhtar

Subhash K . Jha

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Farhan Akhtar

This month  on Jan 10-11  three Bollywood  personalities I’ve known closely over the years and one  of whom I no longer know or want to know,   turned a year older within 24 hours.

Farha Khan and Farhan Akhtar share  the same  birthday which is  a little strange considering how  different they are.For those  who believe in horoscopes and  sun signs  Farha and Farhan both born  on January 9  prove astrology sucks.

Hrithik Roshan is  born day after Farha and Farhan. But this column  is not about him  or Farha. It  is  about Farhan a friend I’ve known for 16 years and  a rare example of  a Bollywood personality with whom I’ve never had any stress or conflict  of interest. We share a relationship of mutual respect and we never cross the  line  of decorum.

When  Farhan’s long-standing marriage  with the very  gentle Adhuna broke up we were all shocked. I never brought it up until he made  a mention of it. It was  a  very rare  moment  of introspective confession  shared between us. That apart we  never discuss his life, or mine and yet we are friends who know one another well enough to be comfortable in each other’s  company.

What  really binds  us together is  our  propensity to  chuckle over  the vagaries  and double  standards  of life and politics.

When I first got to know Farhan he had just released his directorial debut Dil Chahta Hai. The nation and its biggest  critics  celebrated the  birth  of  a striking  director. We were all bowled over by the freshness of Farhan’s cinematic vision and  dialect.As  the nation fawned, Farhan remained calm. His equanimity remains unscathed over the years.  Nothing ruffles Farhan. Not success, of which he has seen plenty  since Dil Chahta Hai, nor  failure,  of which there has been no dearth either.

 Farhan  isn’t afraid  to fall and rise. I am not particularly fond of his Don series. And  I don’t really look forward to the next one. But I look forward  to what Farhan  will do next. He has already covered directing, acting, writing and singing.Where  does he go next? Is he more versatile than his  sister Zoya?Or even  his amazing father Javed Akhtar who after  years of prodding, cajoling, threatening and bullying by his family(wife Shabana included) and  friends(your truly included)  has  not been persuaded to turn  director.

What  galvanizes  Farhan  into exploring new  cinematic avenues  constantly. Is he just curious? Or hungry for new experiences? Farhan’s unique position  in the Bollywood hierarchy  affords  him a  view into   a multitude  of fascinating vocations associated with cinema. He  is at once an auteur and a traditionalist.An insider and an outsider.

He is the  lonely outsider  forging his own path in  the chaotic creativity  of our film industry. He  is  also   a consummate star-kid born and  brought up in the  film industry attending as a child the birthday parties  of Abhishek Bachchan. Farhan would always envyAbhishek at these kiddie parties because  he  got to be every kid’s favourite super-hero

Amitabh Bachchan.

How was Farhan to know that one  day he would direct his childhood idol  in the war film Lakshya and share screen space as co-actor in Wazir?  Once upon time  Farhan’s father wrote some of  Mr Bachchan’s most memorable lines. Farhan now carries the legacy of his father ahead by remaking and renewing Don one of   Javed Saab’s best-known Amitabh Bachchan starrers. It’s  a formidable legacy to carry. But Farhan manages it with graceful nonchalance.As if success doesn’t really matter because you know what waits at the end that long winding  road.

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