Actor, director, producer and singer—Farhan Akhtar wears many hats. In the last few years, Farhan the actor seems to have taken precedence. “I have to admit that I’m enjoying the process of acting. More so because so many avenues are opening up. I guess writers and directors recognise your work, they recognise the effort you put in, so the material that keeps coming to you keeps evolving and at times keeps getting better, at times worse too. I am quite excited about the films that are coming my way. There’s Zoya’s (Akhtar, his sister) film, the one with Mr (Amitabh) Bachchan and Rahul Dholakia’s Raees with Shah Rukh (Khan). This is an exciting phase as an actor for me. It would be foolish for me to not take up these opportunities,” says the 40-year-old.
After last year’s critically acclaimed Bhaag Milkha Bhaag, Farhan is back in theatres with the romcom Shaadi Ke Side/Effects, a genre that he hasn’t explored as an actor. “It was one of the reasons why I jumped at the chance to play Sid. Also, the story is really sweet and simple. It’s a very identifiable film. And it’s not necessary that you have to be married to enjoy or connect with the story. You can be in a long-term relationship and you’d still identify with the film. After being with someone for a long time, there are things that only you know about each other. You know what makes the other person tick and what the trigger points are. Everyone thinks that they are the only ones who have problems in their relationships, but they aren’t. The basic issues are always the same.”
Shooting for Shaadi Ke Side/Effects started less than a month after Farhan wrapped up Bhaag Milkha Bhaag, was one of the most challenging films of his career. “It felt very strange to start filming without doing much prep. After Milkha, it was also a relief. After an intense film, it was nice to let go and have fun,” he says with a laugh. Though Farhan prefers to take time off between projects, for this one, he decided to jump right in. “I was really keen on working with Vidya (Balan) and this was the only time she had before she started shooting Bobby Jasoos.”
When Farhan first read the film’s script, there were parts that he recognised immediately. “Like the mixed feelings when my elder daughter Shakya was born. I was happy and excited, but there was also an underlying sense of anxiety and fear. When I look back today, there is no joy that comes close to becoming a parent for the first time, but it is scary because you can’t prepare for fatherhood. There is no instruction manual. It’s a little like jumping off a place for the first time. You know you have a parachute and that you’ll be safe, but you are still scared.”
Marriage has always been a sacred institution, but the actor thinks “we take marriage a little too seriously”. “The minute someone starts talking about marriage, everyone gets serious. Women laugh with their friends about the antics of their husbands and vice versa. But if you crack one of these jokes in a mixed group, everyone gets awkward. I don’t get that. Why do people find it so tough to laugh at themselves?”
In Farhan’s books, trust is the most important secret ingredient to a successful marriage. “Communication, giving each other space, not being possessive, and not holding on to grudges are all important for any healthy relationship.” After a three-year courtship, Adhuna and Farhan tied the knot in 2000 and have two children. “I don’t think I would be where I am today if not for Adhuna. She is exceptionally supportive of everything I do. I don’t think I would have been able to work as much or with the kind of passion I have and put in the amount of time in work without her support. She understand how important films are to my life. I need films for sustenance and she gets that.”