“Your largest battle is staying focused” – Farhan Akhtar
We have one of Bollywood\’s most multi-talented media professionals, Farhan Akhtar. Being an actor, director, singer, producer, writer, this man has worn too many hats. The thing that inspires me the most is the abundance of creativity inside him. Many aspects of which you\’ll witness during this conversation.
On being on the brink of a release, Farhan breaks down the process of filmmaking RIGHT FROM a vague idea & excitement to tell the story UNTIL the end of the film and its final creation. When it comes to fitness and the aesthetic look for the part, he has never failed to disappoint.
Personally, this conversation was super special to me, he has inspired me immensely while growing up. I remember seeing the movie \’Lakshya\’ for the first time, and how blown & motivated I was. It taught me the power of hard work as no other film or content piece did.
Hope you enjoy this conversation, can\’t wait to have him back on the show.
Farhan Akhtar\’s View On Fitness
The whole Bhaag Milkha Bhaag body that he has built or his body now in Toofan is honestly scary in a positive way. The level of muscles that he has is not easy especially from a mental perspective.
“It is immersing yourself, at the end of the day. It\’s a commitment that you make to yourself.
I take these challenges very seriously. Also, I feel that films and especially sports films that I grew up watching have always inspired me to kind of try and be a better version of myself. When it comes to the mental and the physical aspect of things, you hope that through your effort people will also feel that same way. Which is why you have to give it your all. There are no half measures in fitness. If you need to represent somebody who\’s at peak fitness and in peak athletic condition then you have to be that, you can\’t pretend it.” He said.
Talking about his fitness regime he says, “Up until the shooting of the film, we had roughly about seven to eight months. So I got into boxing training, six days a week, three hours
every morning was dedicated to boxing and then about an hour and a half to two
hours at times in the evening was dedicated to weight training, strength training, and the aesthetic side of what the character needed to look like.
This was non-stop, no break, no excuses, day in day out, six days a week for eight months.
The thing with boxing is that you do require tremendous amounts of energy because you\’re burning a lot of calories and you\’re expanding a lot. So your cardiovascular strength and endurance have to be incredibly high.
In terms of diet, you need to find the right balance between protein and carbs. At one point, I was consuming 2000 calories and then we went up to 3000 calories. I was having egg whites, chicken, fish, and as much red meat as possible. I was having 2 protein shakes and if I still felt hungry, then I would have a low-carb protein bar.
One can educate themselves about all this but it\’s always advisable to speak to people who know this better than you.”
According to him, there is a certain monotony to fitness which your mind has to get used to. At times it does get difficult. So you have to make your mind strong when it comes to these things. But when you\’re inspired by the goal these things tend to happen organically, it doesn\’t bother you as much.
A boxer might have natural talent, but the boxer who is disinclined and focused will win more often than not. Your largest battle is staying focused.
FROM DIRECTION TO ACTING
I am doing YouTube and running startups, so I have to gear switch my creativity a lot and I have been asked in the past, who do I look up to. But as YouTubers, we don\’t have reference points because we\’re the first generation doing this so our reference points are Bollywood celebrities. So I often have said Farhan Akhtar just because he does multiple things like being a producer, director, actor, etc.
I asked him about how he switches between creativity so efficiently. He says, “I\’ve realized over the last 20 years to take work seriously and not take yourself so seriously. I just follow my heart and I follow my creative instinct. I do whatever gives me joy at that moment whether it\’s in music, directing, writing, or acting. I just follow my heart and do it to the best of my ability.
He adds, “I get to express myself in multiple ways. I am fortunate because I get to do what I love to do. I can make it my job and make money off of it. It doesn\’t happen to everyone.
So, gratitude is most important. I\’m thankful every single day to the audience that allows me that
freedom to be able to do it.
On being asked why he started his acting career, he says, “ When Rock On came to me, there was something so magical about it. It was something I could identify with. I love rock music, I play the guitar and it was based in the city that I\’m from so it wasn\’t a stretch for me to imagine how I would create this character. Whatever education that I did get about acting from working with some incredible actors as a director, I could put all of that to use in that film. The acting felt really good, it felt liberating to kind of take on the persona of someone. Then one thing kind of led to another and here we are.”
Farhan Akhtar On WARRIOR MINDSET
Daryl Foster, a former boxer trained Farhan for his film Toofan where he had to act as a boxer. During the training, Farhan was introduced to the concept of the Warrior Mindset.
The warrior mindset is wanting to win more than the other guy and give your 100 percent.
“You have to figure out how you can inculcate that mindset or kind of breathe that mindset into your being because you have to want it more than the other guy.
The guy who\’s willing to endure more pain, the guy who\’s willing to go that extra round when his lungs and his legs have collapsed, when everything in your body is telling you to stop, you have to overcome that pain and still go on.
There\’s one thing that you\’re fighting for a belt or you\’re fighting to win, but there is always something more. There\’s always that one X factor in terms of what it is that you\’re fighting for, whether it\’s something internal that you\’re dealing with, proving something to yourself, killing self-doubt, looking for self-respect or you\’re doing it for someone who you love and who you care about. All boxers have something more than just the belt.” he says.
ON LAKSHYA AND THE POWER OF CONTENT
The movie that impacted me the most as a kid and is still the movie that impacts me the most i.e. Lakshya. I have seen that movie twice or thrice every year ever since it was released. The movie beautifully depicts the phases of human lives. This movie has inspired me and so many others.
Sharing an anecdote about this movie, he says, “The reason my dad (Javed Akhtar) wrote the script for the film was that on Kargil Diwas in the year 2000 or 2001, he was invited to Kargil to celebrate the success of Operation Vijay. There he was talking to some senior officials of the army and that person told him that it\’s such a dichotomy. Everywhere you read, every news channel, every newspaper, every person who has a voice is singing praises of the Indian army but every single year the number of people who enroll themselves into the army in the officer rank is going down. So it\’s no longer seen as a career option for a lot of people. This conversation stayed with my dad. He told the officer he was going to write a script about it to try and encourage people to get motivated to be part of the Indian army. That\’s why we made that film.
The film was released in 2004 and in 2017 I went to the Indian Military Academy. An officer there took me to the newly made Vikram Batra Mess, he asked the other army personnel to assemble there. He then asked them that how many of them were there that day because of watching Lakshya and almost 70 percent of them raised their hands.
It is just incredible that, firstly, it revealed the power of film and content. Secondly, a huge reason that this film was written was to inspire people to join the army and we could successfully achieve it.
That moment was very special for me, it made me think about the success of a movie in a very different way.
It was truly a privilege to be able to talk to Mr. Farhan Akhtar. He has been my inspiration and motivation since childhood. I have always looked up to him primarily because he has the ability to switch between creativity and there are very few people in the world who can do that well.
The highlight of the show for me was to be able to tell him what an impact his work had on me and numerous other people.
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