Film, Family and Farhan

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Farhan Akhtar is going to be seen in a film titled ‘Lucknow Central’ for which promotions have been in full swing. The actor is going to play a UP guy in the film, which is set against the backdrop of a jail and features him as a prisoner who forms a music band along with other inmates. We caught up with the Rock On star, to talk about his latest outing.

What attracted you to the script of the film?

I liked the world that it’s set in, I liked the character that Ranjeet and Nikhil asked me to play. It’s a very relatable story. Although it’s set in a prison it leaves you feeling very very positive. It leaves you feeling very optimistic about things. And just overall the journey of all the characters, of the way the screenplay I was constantly engaged and at the end of the narration, there was no reason in my mind for me not to even really think about it. I just instinctively felt that I really would like to be part of this film.

It’s quite an intense and gritty film, how did you prepare for your role?

There was a lot of detail in the writing. Aseem Arora is the screenplay writer and the dialogue writer, so there was a lot of detail in the writing. There was a lot of research done by Ranjeet Tiwari the Director. He had been to UP, spent a lot of time there. In areas, especially that he wanted to shoot in. The area that he wanted the character of Kishen to be from. So, there were character sketches drawn out. There were video and picture references. So, a lot of that work was already been done by them. So, I did take all that material from them and then of course I did work with a dialogue coach, because there is a certain dialect and flavour in the film, so just to be true to that. But I didn’t want to research the jail, beyond a certain point because Kishen is very new to that world, you see him going to jail, he is not a harden criminal. He is not somebody who has been in there for a long time. So, when you see him go in there, I didn’t want to be too aware of every single thing that happens. It was nice to discover that as I went along. So, it was really a mixture of these two different aspects.

Lucknow Central is inspired by a true story and is lightly based on a band called Healing Hearts. Have you met them and if so did they give you any tips in preparation for your role?

Yes, I did. They didn’t give us any tips, but they played music for us and they were really really good. So, it was just nice to have met them, because the film is inspired by their story. There wasn’t much exchange because of the nature of where they were and the kind of access we had to spend time with them. It had to be supervised and had to be in the presence of the officers of that prison. Ranjit I think whilst he was researching got a bit more time with them, he got special permissions, but when we went to meet them, it was just an introduction that these are the people whose life the film is inspired by.

There’s a lot of talk in the media about the cost of your 5000 rupees costumes in Lucknow central. Have you ever worn clothes from a flea market before?

Absolutely, of course.

You are known for your fitness regime. How do you manage to balance, directing, acting, writing and fitting in such a strict regime?

You always make time for things that you really enjoy doing. So that’s how it really happens. So, if I have to work early in the morning I make sure I can get some time in the evening to work out, if I have to work later in the night then I get some training in the morning. It’s just that it helps me keep my energy levels up and keep my positive frame of mind.

We heard that whilst filming you also got the opportunity to explore more about great great grandfather Fazl-e-Haq who had died serving life imprisonment in cellular jail (Kala Pani) in Port Blair. How was the experience?

That’s right, he was sent to Nicobar Islands by the British, where anyone who was against the British and wrote against them was considered a criminal. So, he was sent to this place and it was called Kalapani (cellular jail). My great great grandmother is buried in UP in this small little place and it’s called Khairabaad and I had the opportunity to visit that little town just a few weeks ago and there are a lot of extended family and a house that my ancestors built and lived in. So, it was very emotional to go back. It was quiet an overwhelming experience.

As someone who has directed and written scripts, when working for other film companies, do you ever have the temptation to offer input and make changes to a film?

Not to the extent where I feel like I am impinging on somebody else’s job or up to the extent it could damage a film. But of course, as a creative collaborator on the film as an actor. All actors have a certain idea of maybe things that they would like to try or do differently, that doesn’t happen all the time, but you know your role in the larger scheme of things and you know the vision set out by the writer and the director and you just try to stay as true to that. But to also make that vision your own because you have to perform it, you end up asking a lot of questions, you end up making suggestions. All of this is part and parcel of film making.

You’ve said in an interview that Lucknow central has a message, what can people take back from this movie?

I think the biggest thing I took back when I first heard the script and read it was how important it is to have a passion in your life for something that you enjoy doing. At times life can throw you a bit of a curve ball and your dreams don’t play out the way you had imagined them to. You should not be disheartened by it, because there are things in life that nothing is constant things can change and how you adapt yourself to still try and find a way to be able to do what your heart was set on doing all those years, if you can do that. So that’s what this film is about, it’s about realising your dream and your potential to the fullest, but maybe not in the way that you had imagined it to be. That’s the larger message in the film.

Lucknow Central released in cinemas worldwide on 15 September

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