Challenge now is to get audience to go to theatres: Farhan Akhtar

Farhan Akhtar, who was at the Bangalore Literature Festival, speaks about digitisation of cinema and why he is limiting himself only to production of southern films

Published: 05th December 2022 08:32 AM  |   Last Updated: 05th December 2022 08:32 AM   |  A+A-

Bollywood actor and filmmaker Farhan Akhtar

Bollywood actor and filmmaker Farhan Akhtar (File Photo | PTI)

Express News Service

BENGALURU: A lazy Sunday morning was interrupted as Farhan Akhtar was in the city for the launch of the book, Akira, Shakya and the Grouchy Owl, written by his mother, Honey Irani. The session was packed to capacity, with one fan going on to say his ‘humour and husky voice made her go weak in her knees’. She was probably speaking on behalf of most of the audience.  

With Akhtar in the house, the conversation steered towards movies. Often credited with having created timeless characters, like Akash from Dil Chahta Hai or an aimless Karan Shergill in Lakshya, Akhtar made it clear that a writer should be able to pen good stories irrespective of gender. “Creating believable stories, creating stories that people can relate to and not just aspire to be is a huge part of content consumption today. That’s forcing writers, directors and producers to dig deep and create good characters,” says Akhtar.

As much as writing for films is a creative process, it is also a business. With OTT streaming having been accelerated by the pandemic, Akhtar says viewers have become discerning. “Going to the theatre by any means is not a cheap outing. It has also made people wary about what they want to see and spend their money on. So now, the challenge for the producer is to excite the audience to go to the theatre to watch a movie. It’s not easy and the audience has become very smart,” he adds.

Being a writer, he has gone through various phases of writer’s block but the trick for him has been to involve himself in something else. “Travelling or watching your favourite band or any other experience inspires you to write again. When it comes to poetry, I need some sort of conflict as fuel,” he says.

There has been a trend of mega-budget, larger-than-life movies being made. However, Akhtar has not jumped into that bandwagon yet. “There is always something at a certain point in time that interests people, and you can’t predict it. Modern technology is changing, the country is changing and so is the mood of people. Right now, people want to see larger-than-life films with VFX. It’s cyclical and we will see what comes next,” says Akhtar.

With southern cinema creating chartbusters, many production houses are also coming with collaborations. Having said that, Akhtar’s production house Excel Entertainment was one of the distribution partners for the KGF series (Hindi). But he has hardly been seen doing movies. “We just did a film with Yash. Many others understand the culture better. What I can do is collaborate and help them tell stories,” he signs off.


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