Dec 15, 2008

Entertainment - Q&A Farhan Akhtar

Reshma S Kulkarni

After a much-appreciated stint as judge on “Nach Baliye”, four years back, multi-faceted entertainer Farhan Akhtar is back to the small screen with NDTV Imagine’s entertainment extravaganza “Oye…It’s Friday”! Excerpts from a chat with Farhan about his latest venture.

First and foremost, what brings you back to television; after a huge hit as an actor?

I never sought to differentiate between the mediums. I consider myself an entertainer, so what’s important is that my creative ideas find the best outlet. Whether the medium is TV or films and whether my role is of a director, an actor or a host is not a reason to choose. Having said that, as an entertainer, I’m constantly looking out for fresher avenues in terms of mediums and roles and hence have chosen to comeback to TV with “Oye…It’s Friday”, which will give me a chance to host a show, something I haven’t done before. Also, I’m scripting my part of the show (I’ll be on for a few weeks, then another celebrity will take over), that’s also exciting.

Then what kept you away from TV?

Post-“Nach Baliye”, I was flooded with offers but most were similar or not exciting enough. I take up something only when I truly believe in it and, rather than accept programmes that did not excite me, I chose to move onto other things.

What is it about “Oye…It’s Friday” that excited you?

First it is a show that I would like to watch alone or with my family. The best part is that it is an unconventional kind of a celeb-based show in terms of its format, which is what attracted me to it immensely!

Tell us what it’s all about.

It is a celebrity-based show that has encapsulated all kinds of entertainment into 45 minutes per episode. The show will have me playing host to celebrities from various walks of life. OIF aims to allow the guests to let their hair down, have fun and feel free to remove the mask that they need to don for professional purposes, to allow the viewers a sneak-peek into their day-to-day persona. This will be done through chats, singing, dancing or indulging in any special talent that the guest might possess. Though it is a celeb-based show, the focus will be to get a glimpse of the person behind the celebrity.

Going by the saccharine-sweet format you just explained, does that mean that there will be no attempts to grab eyeballs by revealing scandalous bits about the celeb or asking him/her squirmy questions?

Well, you just answered your question! There will be no such attempt that will make the guests uncomfortable. In fact, because of this trend, celebrities are guarded when they appear on these shows. But here, they will need no such armour to hide behind.

Your films are always youth-oriented; be it “Dil Chahta Hain”, “Lakshya” or “Rock On”. Will this show follow suit?

Well, “OIF” is targeted at anyone who’s in search of unadulterated, clean and a different kind of entertainment. Our television programming is being saturated with the same old subjects being rehashed in a new avatar but that is doing nothing for the viewer. The youth is especially at a loss when it comes to good telly-content for them; so in that sense, hopefully “OIF” will attract the youth to good television again.

Will you change your look for this stint, as you generally do with any new project?

Well, I’m in between two looks for two films and can’t sport a different look for “OIF”; here I’ll be appearing as I look in real life at the moment. In a sense it’s a blessing in disguise, because, the aim is to show the celebrities as they are in real life and, as a host of such a show, it’s logical that I be as close to how I am in real life, as possible.

Coming to your films, is it true that you are sidelining your directorial ventures in favour of acting stints after being appreciated in “Rock On”?

Not true. I’ve just finished shooting for my sister Zoya’s (Akhtar) directorial debut called “Luck By Chance” and will begin shooting for a psychological thriller by a debutant director, in March 2009, the dates for which were booked earlier. After that, I’m certainly going back to directing “Don-2”, to which I want to devote my entire energy. In fact, I can’t wait to begin directing the film!

You have proven your mettle as a director, an actor, a scriptwriter, a singer and are now set to wow the audiences as a host. What can we expect from you next?

Well I haven’t yet proven myself as a host! Things are just beginning and I do hope the audience likes this new venture of mine. But it has been a challenge so far; it’s easy to slip into the skin of a character and forget about it once the camera stops rolling but it’s difficult to play yourself and that too in a way such that your guests as well as your audience will enjoy it. Hence as of now, this is the only latest role I’m concentrating on.

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