Director on a singing mission

Director on a singing mission

There are few things Bollywood's Farhan Akhtar cannot do.

He can direct, produce, write, sing, dance and, of course, act. With his indie spirit and willingness to take on edgy subject matters, Akhtar, 40, has been adding colour to the multi-layered narrative of Indian cinema since his directorial debut in 2001.

But it is the singer and performer that audiences in Singapore will see when he performs at the Esplanade on April 13. He is one of five high-profile South Asian music acts coming to town over the next month (see other story).

When he speaks to Life! on the telephone on a Sunday afternoon, it is just hours after a sell-out rock concert he has done in Kozhikode or Calicut in south India.

If there are any signs of fatigue, given his gruelling schedule, his voice gives no indication throughout the 30-minute interview. He sounds lively, energetic and funny.

When asked how he finds the time to do so many things, including concerts, he thanks his business partner and his team for freeing him from administrative work.

He enthuses: "I love performing in front of a live audience. It is a different feeling. The energy is refreshing. I find I am completely free in that moment when I am in front of an audience. I very much enjoy that connection."

While the songs he and his band perform are often decided ahead of the concert, he says he watches out for what the audience wants.

"If they keep shouting out for a particular song or number, we will do it for them."

Often, the song requests are from the popular rock musical film Rock On!! (2008), in which he made his acting debut. He also sang some of the songs and co-produced as well as penned the dialogue for the film.

His classic touches there, from the snappy repartee to the setting of some scenes, brought back memories of his directorial debut, Dil

Chahta Hai (The Heart Desires, 2001). That film told the story of three friends. Rock On!! was about four friends who go their separate ways before coming back together again.

Akhtar's soaring vocals made this a film to watch and he went on to do more live shows after that.

None of this was planned. When he was first asked to act, he says his first impulse was "no".

"I was petrified of facing the camera."

But you get no hint of it when you watch the charismatic actor on the big screen. His oeuvre also includes acting in two of his sister Zoya Akhtar's films.

In Luck By Chance (2009), written and directed by Zoya, he plays an aspiring movie actor who falls in love with an actress. His performance was by turns funny, thoughtful and provocative. It helped the movie capture the behind- the-scenes drama and manoeuvring that occurs in India's film industry.

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