‘I love It loud’
The multi-talented actor, filmmaker and singer Farhan Akhtar is all set to take the city by storm this Sunday. Starting off by what he is going to give Hyderabadis he says, “It’s going to be an entertaining evening and we’re looking forward to engage with our fans. It’s definitely exciting coming to Hyderabad at Boulder Hills, Gachibowli, as a live performer. The common feeling everywhere when people come for a concert is that they want to have a good time. The audience everywhere likes to be included in the performance. I like taking my energy from my audience and throwing it out to them wherever I perform. I like audience that are loud and noisy and come in wanting to have a good time.”
Going with the flow
The handsome hunk is known for his spontaneity and tells us that he goes with energy in the air. “I like improvising a lot when I’m singing. There’s a certain set, of course, that we have to prepare or otherwise the band wouldn’t know what to play after what. But we really try and keep the length of the songs flexible. There are times when you want the song to carry on for a bit longer or you want to include the crowd. If the mood builds up such that the crowd wants a particular song, we move away from the sequence on the playlist and do it first.”
He may be a rockstar now, impressing people across the country, adding more number of people to his list of admirers. But he confesses that he does have stage fright. “Every single time. I equate it to jumping out of a plane. I have done 100-plus jumps by now, but every time I go to the door, there’s always that one little element of ‘what if?’ at the back of my head. But once you jump off, it’s just incredible. Even during my concerts, I get that same feeling when I walk up the stairs to the stage. I take a deep breath, but it’s always good after that.”
Behind that voice
So what’s behind his sound? “As far as music is concerned, it’s something I’ve always been passionate about and have been involved in, one way or another, for years. From playing guitar to collaborating with Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy on various films we’ve done together and now singing, it’s been a part of my life. Primarily, the sound is rock with a few songs that have varied cultural influences like ‘Senorita’ that is structured like a Spanish song or ‘Havan Karenge’, that has a Punjabi flavour. Film tracks will of course make you popular when they work, but most of them don’t represent you as a person. It is important to have your own work where you can showcase your creativity.” And for him, music is a relaxing therapy.
The actor-singer, who was inspired by Beatles says, “I’m a huge fan of that band. It’s because of them that I have such a predominant interest in music. And from Hindi music my biggest influence was Kishore Kumar and RD Burman. Later there have been bands which I’ve loved like Coldplay, U2 and Pearl Jam.” So, how often does he play these days? “The music side for me right now is, whenever I get the chance. I just jump on it and do it. Apart from that, with projects, you’re working on a schedule. It’s not just you in isolation. There’s a whole crew, so you plan your time accordingly. I always have my guitar handy so whenever I want to ease out I pick up my guitar and play,” he says. Does he follow a ritual before going up on stage like many rockers do? “No, not really. Should I? Maybe it will help if I have my own little totem pole. Now that you ask me this, I remember Keith Richards of The Rolling Stones was asked, ‘What do you do before a concert?’ And his answer was: ‘I wake up!’,” he laughs.
Love for travel
“Another thing I enjoy thoroughly, is travelling. It is a great pursuit to experience different cultures. While I am working I get caught up. But one must take time out for creative pursuits. It’s a combination of many things. For me, it’s a form of personal expression and connecting with people. It could also mean sharing emotions, thoughts and celebrating things together,” says the 40-year-old.
Just like he has achieved perfection in all things cinema, the versatile artiste takes social causes just as seriously. Talking about his MARD ((Men Against Rape and Discrimination) initiative, he says, “MARD, it’s a commitment that I have taken up for the rest of my life. There has to be an organic growth of MARD through our music. I don’t want it to be sensationalist. I want people who come on board to believe in the philosophy, rather than just be shocked into saying ‘yes’. We’re trying to reach out to younger boys, younger girls. And we’re starting to get them to understand from a very young age about the importance of gender equality.” The actor says that there is a need to identify the imbalance it can create and that is what MARD aims to do. “It can manifest in many different things. So just starting to get people to understand the importance of this equality is crucial. Because that’s where we really start seeing change at a larger level like we want to. I feel as far as change in society goes that is probably going to be something that is generational rather than overnight. We have associated with Magic Bus, an NGO that is making an effort to educate children, especially girls, in areas where education isn’t prevalent. This is not because there aren’t any schools, but because their parents choose not to send them. We are hoping to raise funds for Magic Bus so that more families will educate their daughters.”