x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Farhan Akhtar on why the film Fukrey is close to his heart

The producers Farhan Akhtar and Ritesh Sidhwani talk about Fukrey, a Hindi comedy that will be out in the UAE on Thursday.

From left, Pulkit Samrat, Manjot Singh, Varun Sharma and Ali Fazal make their debut in the Bollywood comedy Fukrey. Excel Entertainment
From left, Pulkit Samrat, Manjot Singh, Varun Sharma and Ali Fazal make their debut in the Bollywood comedy Fukrey. Excel Entertainment

“I wanted to do this movie the minute Mrighdeep Singh Lamba [the director] told me the story,” says Farhan Akhtar. Akhtar and Ritesh Sidhwani are the proud producers of the much-anticipated Bollywood film Fukrey, about four good-for-nothing friends out to make easy money.

Akhtar and Sidhwani were in Dubai on Saturday along with the cast for two days of promotional activities organised by Abu Dhabi Media (which owns The National), including a visit to the Radio Mirchi studio in Dubai, where we meet.

“The story struck a chord somewhere,” explains Akhtar. “We’ve all been ‘fukrey’ [Hindi slang for someone with no sense of purpose] at some point in life. I was like that in college. I’m sure Ritesh was, too.”

Sidhwani nods in agreement and recounts how aimless he was during his college days, scoring abysmally low marks in exams and ending up working in the family business for lack of better options.

Akhtar manages to top Sidhwani’s story – he actually was expelled from college because of low -attendance.

Fortunately, films happened to both of them: Sidhwani founded the production house Excel Entertainment, while Akhtar became famous with 2001’s Dil Chahta Hai, a critically acclaimed film (starring Aamir Khan, Saif Ali Khan and Akshaye Khanna) that he wrote and directed. Akhtar went on to direct several successful films and has even starred in a few blockbusters. He has not looked back since.

“It’s OK to be a fukra for a while but not forever. And it’s never too late to pursue your dreams,” explains Akhtar. “And that’s exactly what the film is about: four college students who are completely fukrey. One day, one of them mentions a dream he had, which his friends somehow deconstruct into a winning lottery-ticket number. Funnily enough, this ‘technique’ helps them win other small-time lotteries, too. Then things take an unexpected turn – but you have to watch the film to find out what happens next.”

The four friends – Hunny, Choocha, Zafar and Lai – are played by the Bollywood newbies Pulkit Samrat, Varun Sharma, Ali Fazal and Manjot Singh, respectively. Also in the cast are the actresses Richa Chadda, Vishakha Singh and Priya Anand.

“Every film has its own unique demands and this film demanded a new cast,” says Akhtar. “The idea was to present fresh faces; we wanted newcomers who would be accepted as truly fukrey.”

While the UAE promotions were fairly standard, the team has been employing unconventional tactics in India to create more interest in the film. The music launch, for instance, was held at a college in New Delhi. The leading lads made their entry on horseback (in keeping with the film’s trailer, which shows two of the friends arriving at their college on stallions) while the director and producers followed on bicycles.

The film’s score, by the music director Ram Sampath, has been well received ahead of the film’s release, from the foot-thumping title track (sung by the newcomer Amjad Bagadwa) to the mellow and folksy romantic Ambarsariya (sung by Sona Mohapatra).

Akhtar tells an interesting story behind the song Beda Par, which features the voice of Mika Singh, best known for his title track in the 2008 film Singh is Kingg (the music video featured Snoop Dogg).

Akhtar and Sidhwani hit it off with Singh when they met and got to talking about the film. Singh immediately wanted to be a part of the project but because budgets had already been allocated, he insisted on working for no pay. The result is an upbeat song with the trademark Mika Singh touch.

Fukrey will be out in the UAE on Thursday

artslife@thenational.ae

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