'Farhan wanted to be Superman!'
On Farhan Akhtar's 40th birthday on January 9, his mother Honey Irani tells us how her naughty son grew up to be such a hard working man.
Honey Irani admits that she was worried when her son Farhan Akhtar did not finish college and just sat in his room all day.
“I was very worried. I thought like most teenagers, he had no direction. I told him to start doing something, so Farhan got a job in an ad agency,” she says.
Today, Farhan is one of the brightest stars of Bollywood, who has dabbled successfully with direction, producing films, acting, singing and writing. His latest film Bhaag Milkha Bhaag is one of the best-reviewed and successful films of 2013.
On Farhan's 40th birthday, his mother Honey Irani talks to Patcy N about her famous son.
"Farhan didn’t fail his exams (before he dropped out of college); he was just not interested in studies at all" Honey says.
Three years later, Farhan told her he was ready with a script and wanted to direct it.
“I was shocked. I never thought he would do that,” Honey says. The script was of the successful Dil Chahta Hai.
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Image: Farhan Akhtar and his mother Honey Irani
Photographs: Abhijit Mhamunkar
'Farhan's favourite film was Kranti'
Honey Irani says Zoya was a very sensible child but she would have a hard time with Farhan.
"He was a brat!" she exclaims. "When we travelled abroad, I would take them to a toy shop and ask them to select two toys each. Zoya would select her toys and come out. But Farhan could never make a decision. I would literally have to drag him out!"
The deadline to be observed for coming home at night after a party was scrupulously adhered to by Zoya, but if Farhan had to be home at 10pm, he would come home at 4 am, says his mother.
There was no knowing where he was going or when he would come home.
“Farhan would get very angry and complain that I let Zoya go even though she's a girl, but not him. There would be tension in the house,” Honey recalls.
She says Farhan liked watching all kinds of movies.
“I never stopped him from watching anything. Everyone knows his favourite film is Kranti (starring Dilip Kumar, Manoj Kumar, Shashi Kapoor and Hema Malini). Every morning before going to school, he would watch the film. He would finish it after returning from school.”
She reveals that her respected filmmaker son wanted to be a superhero when he grew up!
“He wanted to be Superman, Batman and Tarzan. He was so much into superheroes.”
Image: Honey Irani with Zoya and Farhan Akhtar in their younger days
Photographs: Courtsey: People's Magazine
'Farhan is a wonderful son, I couldn't have had a better son'
Much has changed since those youthful days of rebellion. “When I look at Farhan now and see how hardworking he has become, I feel proud of him.
“He is more responsible than he was earlier; in fact, I am shocked when I see him today. His first film Dil Chahta Hai was brilliant. Everybody knows how much he has progressed since then.”
No praise is too high for the adult Farhan.
“He is a wonderful son. I couldn’t have had a better son. He lives across the road so whenever he has free time he comes over and we sit and discuss things. Sometimes I go with him for events, which I personally don’t like to attend, but I still go with him.
“All the holidays that he takes I go with him. He has his own family so he has to spend time there too. But whenever he is free, he calls up and comes over.”
He is a “brilliant father and husband” she says. He loves his kids but is strict with them when he has to be.
Image: Farhan with daughter Shakya, Akira and wife Adhuna Akhtar
Photographs: Abhijit Mhamunkar
'Farhan is a better actor'
Farhan is good at all the things he does, insists his mother. “But if you ask me to choose one thing, I would say he is a better actor. He has done some good work in acting,” she says.
Her personal best is his role in Bhaag Milkha Bhaag.
“I am not talking about his training, his body, that he made for the film, but his overall look and personality and the way he portrayed the role. Everyone who knew Milkha Singh and even Milkha Singh himself said that he looked and thought just like him.
“He had completely transformed himself. He was totally Milkha Singh when he was working in the film. I don’t think that could be bettered."
The other movies that she liked of his was Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara and Luck by Chance.
She says he doesn’t bring work home, but is very cool and calm at home. Even when he played Milkha Singh so passionately, all his training was outside the home. “The only thing he does at home is his diet and his exercise.”
Image: Farhan Akhtar in Bhaag Milkha Bhaag
'Farhan doesn't come to me for advice about films'
Does Farhan come to her for advice?
"Farhan is a big boy now. He doesn’t come to me for advice about films. He can decide for himself. He tells me of course what film he is doing, but he doesn’t need my advice. All the films that he has chosen to do are brilliant."
Has he ever asked her to write a film for his production house?
"We have discussed ideas and what I could write. But it is too personal a topic for me to discuss. I don’t want to talk about it," she says.
Image: Zoya, Farhan, Adhuna Akhtar and Honey Irani
Photographs: Pradeep Bandekar