|"Salman is my friend, philosopher and guide"
Here's a lady who's made it despite going through tough and depressing times. Her first film, Veer, was a flop, which dove tailed her career into depths of despair. That was a huge blow to her ambition of making it big in Bollywood because she had never imagined she would ever become an actress, despite having dreamt of becoming one since childhood. So, when Veer tanked at the box office, naturally she was devastated. "I was very angry with life. I used to think why is this happening to me? I was criticised everywhere, written off for whatever I did – my looks, my dress, my appearance, everything. At one point, I also started thinking that the press had some kind of personal grudge against me," says Zarine, laughing.
Fortunately for her, Salman Khan had become a good friend and eventually offered her the item song Character Dheela in 'Ready', that changed everything for Zarine. Overnight, she's become a sensation and filmmakers are signing her for their films. "Character Dheela was certainly the turning point of my career. Everyone who used to talk bad about me has started appreciating me and it really feels good. Now when I look back, I feel I am doing comparatively much better and feel proud," she says with a big smile.
She has signed Housefull 2, the sequel to the 2010 hit film Housefull. As expected though, the makers of Housefull 2 wanted to exploit her item girl image and reportedly asked her to wear a bikini, which she refused. "To be honest, I will never be able to expose or do intimate scenes. The reason I never wanted to become an actress was because we have to expose and I am not at all comfortable exposing," she says diplomatically. With stardom comes a good dose of controversy. First up, her weight issues. "I realised no matter how good a person you may be, if your physical appearance is not up to the mark, nobody wants to know you. It was for this reason I made up my mind and started working out to lose the extra weight."
When enquired about Salman she says, "We are very good friends. He is my friend, philosopher, guide and I am very close to him. It's just that whoever works with Salman gets linked with him." says Zarine with sudden, endearing passion.
"My kids see a lot more of me than what I saw of my father (Javed Akhtar) when I was a kid"
Farhan Akhtar returns to doing what gave many filmmakers in B-town sleepless nights. The last time he directed a film – Don – was five years ago. His stint as an actor has been so good that in his last acting role, Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara, he stole the show with his easy charm and cheesy one-liners that had the audience in splits. Make no mistake though, Farhan is passionate about every aspect of filmmaking equally. Presenting the multi-talented and uber-cool director of B-Town…
Is it different being on the set as an actor compared to being there as the director?
No, not really. At the end of the day, you're going to work and you're going to more or less try and create something out of thin air. Whether you are going to perform it or get somebody else to perform it, the hope is that you're going to get something magical in that moment.
How does Don 2 take you several notches higher as a director?
I don't think of it like that. As a director, my interest in any film is that I'm very excited about the story. I want to say it in the best possible way that I can, given all the resources available to me to be able to say it. As long as I can achieve that to a large degree, to me that's the pay off. And as long as that feeling of having given everything that was possible to be given – creatively, effort wise, energy wise – has happened, that's all that I can really hope to achieve with each film.
How is your relationship with your kids different from the one you shared with your dad (Javed Akhtar)?
To start with, they see a lot more of me than what I saw of my father when I was a kid. I don't know whether they are lucky or not. Maybe they want their own space and I'm invading that. I actually started spending a lot more time with my dad when I was older. I don't remember spending that much time with him when I was as young as say Akira. That's possibly the biggest difference. Apart from that, I can't think of anything else.
Are you a better father or a husband?
I don't know if I can have a take on that. Probably my wife and kids can give a better insight.
What is the most unique thing about Don 2?
I'd probably say that we're taking a character that everybody is well aware of and we've created a whole new story and a whole new world for him. The most intriguing thing for the audience is to discover where that character goes from a film that we've seen for the last 30 years. I think possibly that is the biggest USP.
The coming awards season, you'd like to get an award for the best actor or the best director?
Why not both? Why should I choose? For everybody reading, I'm open to all awards.
You'd be competing with your sister for the best director for sure…
I think so, yes, absolutely. I mean, she's definitely competing. Whether I will win or not, really remains to be seen.
Name two best fimmakers today.
Raju Hirani. He's got a very good balance between sensible yet mainstream, entertaining yet commercial. And I'd say Zoya because Luck By Chance and Zindagi… were great films.