Farhan Akhtar's first romantic roleNithya Ramani in Mumbai
Farhan Akhtar's Karthik Calling Karthik tells a unique story, and sees the actor-director share the screen with Deepika Padukone.
The film's promos look good, and Farhan may have yet another winner on his hands when the film releases next month.
He tells Nithya Ramani what to expect from Karthik Calling Karthik, directed by first-timer Vijay Lalwani.
What genre would you say Karthik Calling Karthik belongs to?
Well, it definitely isn't a horror film. It creates some kind of suspense as to who this Karthik is who is making the (telephone) call. That is revealed at some point in the film. That's why it is a thriller.
There is also a beautiful love story between Karthik and Shonali (Deepika Padukone). The crust of the film is that Karthik wants Shonali in his life but he is not confident enough to tell her that. This lack of confidence has made him a miserable and lonely person.
Suddenly, he gets a call, and things start changing for him. Vijay (Lalwani, writer-director) has written some really nice scenes between Deepika and me. Of course, I cannot reveal the twist. You must watch the film.
Image: Farhan Akhtar
'Karthik's personality is very different from mine'
You seem to love working with new directors.
That is not a conscious decision. It's just that I find the scripts exciting and challenging, and so I decide to act in them.
After I finish directing Don 2, I will act in (sister) Zoya's film and Sudhir Mishra's next. So I am working with experienced directors too.
How did Karthik Calling Karthik happen?
Vijay Lalwani's friend Amit Chandra has been working with us since Don, Rock On!! and Luck By Chance. He wanted to produce a film, so he teamed up with Vijay and started a production company called Magic Beans.
They approached me with a story, and asked Ritesh (Sidhwani, Farhan's business partner) and me to co-produce it. Vijay asked me to play Karthik. I took some time to go through the script, and I found the story amazing. It was a challenge to portray such a role. So I said yes.
What about this role did you find challenging?
Karthik's personality is very different from mine. I thought it would be a good chance to stretch myself after Rock On!! and Luck By Chance.
Secondly, it has a very intriguing story and this character goes on a great journey. There were many firsts like learning to ride a bike, solving the Rubic's cube and working with Deepika.
Image: Farhan Akhtar
'It was very simple and easy to work with Deepika'
This is the first time we will see you in a full-fledged romantic role.
Yes, though romance has been a part of my earlier films, this is the first time I will be doing a full-fledged romantic film.
It was very simple and easy to work with Deepika. She is very relaxed, isn't self-conscious, and that makes it simple for people to interact with her.
Not only as an actor but I saw her performance as a director too. There has been constant improvement. And she keeps wanting to improve herself and learn. She has an open mind.
These are great ingredients for someone, who is considered the Next Big Thing. She is hungry for more and is not sitting back relaxed.
Will we see you directing Deepika in future?
Of course. If the story is right and if she is the right person for the part, I wouldn't even think twice about casting her. But right now, my focus is on Don 2, which is already cast. We start shooting from October 1.
Image: Farhan Akhtar
'You have to be open-minded as an actor and a director'
Did Farhan, the director, contribute to Karthik Calling Karthik at any point?
I think every director has to have an actor inside him to understand and appreciate the performance and tell the actor how he wants a scene. Similarly, I feel all actors have to have a sense of direction, to know if they're doing it right.
When I am directing, I have great conversations with the actors, on their take of a scene. This should preferably happen before a shoot. But it can happen on the sets too because things change.
You have to be open-minded as an actor and a director. If one tries to force himself on the other, announcing 'I am the director' or 'I am the star', it will create a serious imbalance, which will ultimately reflect on the film. It is very important to have an open line of communication. I don't call this intervention because if you are troubled by something, you must voice it.
Did you help Vijay out?
Whatever help Vijay needed, he needed it before the shoot. While preparing for the film, he would voice his worries, and we would talk about our experiences. But on the sets, Vijay, Zoya (Akhtar, Luck By Chance) and Abhishek (Kapoor, Rock On!!) managed very well. They did not have to look to me for help or guidance. They were very clear about what they wanted.
Image: A scene from Karthik Calling Karthik
'It takes me at least two years to make a film'
Since the time you started acting, direction seems to have taken a backseat.
I wouldn't say so. I was meant to direct Don 2 last year but couldn't do it because of Shah Rukh's shoulder injury. I cannot squeeze in another film in that gap. It takes me at least two years to make a film.
I like taking time while doing films because I spend a lot of time preparing for the shoot. Since I had time at hand, I decided to go ahead with Karthik Calling Karthik. Direction hasn't taken a backseat.
The two Karthiks that we see in the promos have different personalities. Which Karthik do you identify with better?
I'm more like the talkative Karthik. There are certain conflicts that the characters share that I don't.
What do you think of the promos so far?
Vijay has done a great job by putting together some heartfelt scenes as well as light-hearted moments that touch you and make you smile. There is a fine line between doing something sweet and doing something cheesy. That's a big fear for me.
As a director, I'd say this is a very assured first film. He has been very clear with what he wanted to do. He has an ability to write new kind of stories. I am glad I shared this experience with him.
Image: Farhan Akhtar in Karthik Calling Karthik