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Interview: 'Farhan Akhtar on 'Bhaag Milkha Bhaag'

Updated August 07, 2013

"When I take up a film, I always think of the effect it will have on my children when they see the film years later."

— Farhan Akhtar

'Bhaag Milkha Bhaag' will certainly qualify as a film that he can be proud of. As the film nears the 100-crore mark and continues to get the love from the audience and the tax-free special status given to it by several state governments, TOI spoke to Farhan urf Milkha about how the film has changed his life.

How has the success of the film Bhaag Milkha Bhaag impacted your life?

It has given me a lot of confidence to look out for things that will be challenging to do. It also makes a lot of writers and filmmakers not think of me as just an urban metro-centric guy and I am being offered different roles breaking the mould I was slotted in so far.

When you make a film, you can never plan success, but can only hope for the best.

The moment you plan it, the design will destroy it. But when it surpasses what you had planned, you feel so small in comparison. It's a great reassurance to be true to your instinct. To me, the philosophy of Milkhaji is true that genuinely if you work hard, the results can be outstanding. We remember him as he worked harder than anyone else at that time. I feel really happy and grateful for the acceptance, given what has gone into the film and the love it has got in return.

Has the response to this film been different than your earlier films Zingadi Na Milegi Dobara or Dil Chahta Hai?

There is something about this movie that has resonated and touched people's hearts for me, more than ever before.

Farhan Akhtar. — Photo by AFP
Farhan Akhtar. — Photo by AFP

I was talking to my dad the other day that never before on any film that I have made or directed or acted in, has a film appealed to a cross-section of society like this has. From the moment I leave home, from the guy who checks your ID at the airport to the lady who checks you in to the guy who gives you the coffee at the lounge to the guy who is tearing the boarding pass at the boarding gate to the man in the suit sitting next to you in the flight to the driver who picks you up at the airport, says nice things about the film. And that is because it is a human story that has touched every strata of society. I felt really good post the release of the film on Monday, when I got a phone call from Shahrukh (known to be Farhan's close friend) who said, 'I just called to say apni picture hit ho gayee.' I was so touched.

From being a complete vagabond at 17 to putting in the effort required to play Milkha, have you surprised yourself?

I remember so clearly as a kid, my biggest problem in life was I used to never follow up on anything. I would get excited about doing something, but the fad would fade off within 2-3 weeks. The guy in Lakshya had a lot of me in it. While it has not happened overnight, I have come a full circle in this film. It was really tough, but the commitment to play Milkha revealed the extent to which you had to dig deep, no matter what happens to do the role.

It's a game changer for setting standards of hard work that an actor can put into a role. While in the industry we compete for the outside world, within the fraternity, I find it extremely inspirational when I see good work as you want to do something even better. It's amazing if my work will inspire others.

Did you get stuck with your will power during this journey?

Fortunately, I was constantly motivated by the right people. Apart from my personal training team, Yograj Singhji's presence was really positively reassuring. While he was an actor in the film, he is also a cricket coach in real life, he pushes and nurtures you. It's an amazing combination of pampering and torturing. It makes you give everything for that person.

Your first dream was to be an actor. Somewhere in this journey, you also became a writer, director and singer. What will you do next?

Currently, I am so enjoying this experience of playing these different parts and as long as I am enjoying it, I will continue to do it for sure. I am currently looking out to do a film as an actor for my company Excel Entertainment and starting my live concerts. In any case, I am not a great one to make plans for the future.