Renowned Bollywood director Farah Khan was invited as a guest speaker to London Asian Film Festival. She conducted two master classes; the choreography master class at the prestigious South Bank Centre and a director’s master class held at SOAS University. Her film Om Shanti Om was also screened at the Prince Charles Cinema in Leicester Square.
The “sing along” film screening was the first time ever in the Hindi film industry, where the audiences got the chance to hum along their favorite songs from the movie. The film screening received a great response from the British Asian community and the event was an instant hit, as the fans applauded the film while enjoying loudly singing, dancing, and hooting for it. Beaming with happiness on seeing the positive reaction of the London audience, Farah proclaimed that she will release her previous and future films with a sing along feature in the future.
The director shared at her choreography master class that, her career as a choreographer began luck by chance on the sets of Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikandar. The director Mansoor Khan promoted her from the third assistant director to the main choreographer, replacing Saroj Khan. Farah cleared the rumors by saying there is no rivalry between the two, instead she respects Saroj’s work greatly. She added that her pairing with the superstar Madhuri Dixit is a phenomenal challenge for any choreographer to recreate. When Farah choreographed the famous song Ghagra in the 2012 blockbuster Yeh Jawaani hai deewani at short notice, she felt she wasn’t able to give full justice to it and that it’s her career’s least favorite choreographed song.
Farah was recognized for changing the presentation of backing dancers in Indian cinema when Aditya Chopra asked her to choreograph the song Ruk Ja O Dil Deewane for the ever green Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge. She would have choreographed a second song except that she was already committed the dates to a project with Nana Patekar. Farah advised the audience, who mainly comprised of dancers and choreographers from all over Europe that to become a choreographer, you have to be prepared because an opportunity can arise from nowhere. She also added that she has a strong work ethic and is incredibly professional about the work she commits to.
LAFF brings you an exclusive chat with the box office queen director Farah Khan in conversation with Sana Nooruddin.
SN: Hello Farah, it is a delight to have you amongst us today. I would like to begin with asking you that since dance has been always your passion, tell us what lead you to enter Bollywood, as there wasn’t a choreography scene back then and how were you accepted by the industry?
FK: It took a while for people in the industry to accept me as a choreographer. Because I was not like any of the “typical” choreographers back then who were there for so long, you know choreographers earlier used to be pretty old because by the time they would get a break to do choreography, they would have to assist the dance masters for years and when I came people were really wary because I was this college kid who was wearing jeans and t-shirts, and wasn’t wearing any of the shalwaar kameez with the duppata that the choreographers would usually wear back then. So it definitely took quite a lot of time for people to accept, but luckily there was also this whole new generation of directors and actors such as Shahrukh Khan, Karan Johar, and Aditya Chopra starting out and then I first time choreographed Shahrukh Khan for the romantic comedy movie “Khabhi Haan, Kabhi Naa” and then I started to choreograph him. So we were all this young lot and now we are all old. (Laughs)
SN: And so everything just fell into place right, as you never intended to become a choreographer?
FK: No, no I didn’t.
SN: How has your journey been from a choreographer to a director?
FK: It took about 10 years to become a director which I would have liked it to happen earlier, but I guess everything happens for the best. When I was choreographing it was also pretty much directing the songs, so when I would come on the sets the director would take it easy and some of them would even go home or they would then go to do some editing and tell me to take over. So it wasn’t that difficult for me as a transition but in terms of I had to give up a lot to make my first movie because you have to stop doing songs and stop working for others, you have to have that confidence that I’m going to make my own movie and put a stop to something that is doing so well.
SN: You keep on giving chances to new talent from the industry, are you open to giving breaks to aspiring actors?
FK: See there is anyways Shahrukh in the movie, so it is also nice to put in some “fresh faces” and new people I can take a chance with because we already have Shahrukh Khan.
SN: And so, what was it about superstar Deepika Padukone (successful model back then) that made you choose her?
FK: Yeah she was a model, I had met her and then she did a screen test for me which was really terrible, she was literally trembling in that test but what I did was, I put the sound off because her voice and diction was very bad and parts of Om Shanti Om of hers were also dubbed. But now she has really worked hard on that and it’s really incredible to see that. So I think just when I saw her, I knew she was right for Om Shanti Om. She had that star quality and she was lovely to look at and the minute I would put the sound off she would just look so wonderful and photogenic. But the minute her voice would come everything would go for a toss! (Bursts out laughing) But I think we managed everything in the end and she did rather well.
SN: You have achieved equal success as film director, what advice would you like to give to the youth especially the women who aspire to become a director?
FK: See you have to have a passion for that. And you have to make the movies that you want to make; don’t make some movies to please the other people. Don’t say “oh the critics will like this, so I will make it like this”. I have seen a lot of directors who do that which I love, and then suddenly they start to make movies for that reason because they’re so desperate to get that critical acclaim and that award that they decide to give up the core of their own personalities. I think you should make a movie that is within you and I only like making happy movies, I know happy movies are not critically acclaimed because critics like dark/sad movies, but I want to be entertained when I go to watch a movie in a theatre.
SN: What’s the best perk about being a film director?
FK: I think going on sets every day, and not only creating something but also I also like shouting at 200 people feels just lovely (laughs). But to just going through the whole experience of making something whether its good or bad, it’s like a world you create for that many days and that becomes like your family and you have no idea what is happening in the outside world. All the happiness and stress is within that movie. I think each movie is a little small life that you live.
SN: What made you choose reality TV show? You were recently replaced with nation’s heartthrob Salman Khan for the most watched reality TV show “Big Boss” (Indian version of Big Brother”) and now your current show “Farah Ki Dawaat” has also received fabulous response from the fans.
FK: Big boss I didn’t choose, actually they chose me. I was like WOW! I am standing in now for Salman. But all turned out well. And now Farah Ki Dawaat is doing very well too, I enjoy doing TV it pays very well and I think I’m good on TV in the sense that I am what I am and that works. It also doesn’t take out much of my time as much as making a movie does so in between making a movie, I think television for me is a nice way of de-stressing and connecting with the audience.
SN: Thank you very much Farah for taking out your time, it was wonderful talking to you.
FK: Thank you, same here. (Smiles)