Actor Farhan Akhtar was the first guest on HuffPost India’s new chat show, AKTalkies, hosted by our Entertainment Editor, Ankur Pathak. In a wide-ranging conversation that went from acting to CAA, the actor spoke about everything, from how his last film, Shonali Bose’s The Sky is Pink, helped him heal and rebuild his relationship with his ex-wife, Adhuna, to the ongoing protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act, a controversial law passed by the Modi government.
On choosing a film as risky as The Sky is Pink - going by the conventions Bollywood stars often adhere to - Akhtar said, “When you sleep at night and when you think about the choices you’ve made, I don’t ever want to feel that I wish I hadn’t done that film. People had told me not to. You know, I’d rather fail on my own belief system.”
Talking about how he gets attached to characters, Akhtar said his character, Aditya Shroff, from Abhishek Kapoor’s Rock On!! stayed with him the longest. ”It reintroduced me to my love for music which I had completely put aside. It woke me up to a whole universe of parallel expression for me. That’s the film that has done the most.”
About The Sky is Pink, he said it helped him deal untangle complex issues with people who matter to him. ”A lot of learning, like how important ongoing communication is (in a relationship) is something I learnt through this film. Maybe I should’ve learnt that a long time ago when I was younger,” he laughed. “There are certain moments that take you to a certain place. You don’t want to fight it. You wanna go with it and let that carry you. A lot of learning that happened through the relationship that I had with my ex-wife. And now, after all of it (separation), we’re now arriving at a place of being friends in a way that I’d like to be.”
Akhtar also spoke about how we’ve started basing the definition of creative success only on box-office. “Right now when a film releases, the only thing people are waiting to know is - what’s the number? Earlier it was just the trade and the producer, now it’s people. People who’ve nothing to do with trade are wondering, “Kitna Kiya.” Arrey, aapko kya karna hai? Did you like it or not?”
Talking about the role of art and artists at a time when majoritarian politics is increasingly reaching perilous heights, Akhtar said, ”It’s easy to say but difficult to follow. But we must not be afraid of consequence. The film industry is so powerful when it comes to influencing society, influencing people that I don’t know why they feel their voice won’t matter or why they feel that if I say something I may lose my fan base, that’s never going to happen. There’s so much love people have for their film celebrities, they’re committed to those people. They may get upset at them for saying something they don’t like but they aren’t going to boycott their films. It’s not going to happen.”
Akhtar, who has been a strong presence at the anti-CAA/anti-NRC protests in Mumbai, further added that people in the country are very well aware of what’s going on. “It’s a classic case of the loudest voice. People you hear the most are the most fanatical. The level of resistance and for speaking truth to power is getting to a space where it’s very, very dangerous for a democracy to function the way it should, especially if you stay quiet.”
Watch the full interview in the video above.