Choreographer, director and now an actor, Farah Khan has taken up many roles in Bollywood. On Your Call, Farah Khan talks about how she manages to juggle all her roles, both at the professional and personal front. Farah also clears the air about the fight between good friend Shah Rukh Khan and director husband Shirish Kunder.
Here is the full transcript of the interview:
NDTV: Joining us today is the woman who can do everything. She can make stars dance; she can direct them and she can act as well. Farah Khan I am impressed, what can you not do?
Farah Khan: I can't sing so don't ask me to sing here please.
NDTV: But they know you can dance?
Farah Khan: Oh God, yes that's coming.
NDTV: But tell me acting? That was a big surprise?
Farah Khan: It was a big surprise for me as well Sonia, because it was never an ambition of mine. It was never that I want to be an actress, so I couldn't be an actress, so I will be something else. I never ever wanted to do that. As you can see I have come in my rubber chappals here.
The minute the movie is released I have chucked out all the heels. But when Sanjay and Bela gave me the offer, for couple of days I thought they are pulling my leg. But when I read the script it was really sweet and funny and I cried at the end of it and all. And I asked my husband, can I do it. You know the first thought comes in your mind when you are doing anything new is that people are going to laugh at you. I am sure it happens, to everybody and a lot of times we don't do things, fearing what someone else is going to think about us. And Shirish actually told me you should do it and you will be very good.
NDTV: So you had your whole rain dance scene also in that.
Farah Khan: Sonia that rain dance, I want to tell you, was Bhansali's revenge on me for releasing OSO (OM Shanti Om on the same day as Saawariya. I was like you're fully taking revenge. They made me do it some 4 days in a row. Everyday they took one shot. It's a horrible, horrible thing to do and I just felt that it was karma getting back at me to all that I have done to heroines down the years.
NDTV: I know, you have to write to them all and say now I know what I put you through.
Farah Khan: Yes, really it's like dirty water and sticky and I was fat and you know, not like, not as sexy as it looks in the movie.
NDTV: But you are looking great and you're looking greater now.
Farah Khan: Yes, because I saw the movie and it was a reality check. And three 'o clock the movie got over and four 'o clock I was at my surgeon's office and I was like now you have to get rid of this.
NDTV: You're not like those heroines. Now I know you're not a heroine because you didn't say oh this is just my metabolism.
Farah Khan: I have good genes. No not at all. My doctor really helped me to bloody remove all the fat that had accumulated.
NDTV: But trust you to do this after the movie comes out. This is Farah Khan logic.
Farah Khan: Really Sonia, Sanjay said it works in the movie that I'm a little; it looks a bit more real than being maybe ...
NDTV: But you look great
Farah Khan: I thought maybe I would have been very; I would have dressed differently and would become a little filmy, maybe it worked. I think the, you know the director asked me to put on weight.
NDTV: But it's interesting Farah, as I said, this is typical Farah Khan because you are out there. I can't think of anybody in the Hindi film industry who's ever said that they've had plastic surgery
Farah Khan: I have had a tummy tuck yes and it's a legal surgery so there's no need to hide it.
NDTV: But why do you think the Hindi film industry is so much about images and be a certain way?
Farah Khan: I think they do it when they are too young. Maybe that's why and I'm really, I've had 3 kids now Sonia and there was no gym, no diet that was going to make it go away and it's just the best thing I've ever done. I feel; I go into a store and actually pick up a size that fits me, you know so it feels good.
NDTV: Lets just go across to, this is the show where we have questions with people across the country, so let's just go across to some questions.
Kashmira Palkivala: Hi Farah this is Kashmira Palkivala here. Just wanted to ask you one very, I think personal question. How did you feel when you saw Boman in his, on the sets I mean, in his so-called comfort zone?
Farah Khan: I don't think he was comfortable at all let me tell you. He has this little towel scene. What happened that day is that you know they don't tell us exactly which day we are shooting what. So that day they said it's the towel scene and in walks my mother-in-law with my 3 kids and the 3 maids. All come to watch the Bahu shooting and they see Boman lying on a couch only with a towel. So everyone were like ..
NDTV: We could have got him here as well this time
Farah Khan: ... the maids were all like walking like this looking back at him, and then they went and parked themselves directly opposite his crotch, you know and Boman was like really uncomfortable and he was like can you get the maids out of here.
NDTV: That was I guess some eye candy?
Farah Khan: Yes, I don't know my daughter was a little traumatised with that.
NDTV: She must've been like, who's this strange man Mamma's with in a towel?
Farah Khan: But luckily Mamma was screaming and looking as shocked.
NDTV: It was lovely with the way, the charm with which you actually had these two describe the Parsi community as well. That was also very nice. You're half Parsi too.
Farah Khan: I'm half Parsi. Actually the last scene where the Father gets up and asks for Duke's ka Mangola, that's a real life thing that happened with my grandmother, with my Naani. And I told this story to Sanjay and it was very funny and they all thought she was going to die, and she's been threatening to die for many years.my Naani. So like every time, every 2 years the family would go, now Mummy will go, and Mummy would get up.
NDTV: With Mangola?
Farah Khan: No this time she was in a coma for four or five days. They said like now, the doctor called everyone in and suddenly she caught the doctor's hand and said Duke's ka Mangola milega kya? And the whole family was like shit, she's not going to die again, now lets go back home.
NDTV: I'm glad you answered that woman on Boman's comfort zone. Now let's just go across to some other questions from your old college, Xavier's College in Mumbai.
Question 1: Hello Farah Ma'am, why isn't Akshay Kumar promoting Joker?
Question 2: Hello Ma'am, do you think you could get Salman Khan and Shah Rukh Khan to work together in your next movie?
Farah Khan: Wouldn't I like that. How much money I would make, you think?
NDTV: They think you're a magician.
Farah Khan: But you know, sometimes magic does happen, you never know. I've learnt through these 20 years that in the Industry that you never say never. There are so many times in my life I said, I will never do this and, then cut to two years. I mean we were doing music launch of Shirin Farhad and there was Shah Rukh coming to unveil it. There was Sanjay and me hugging and I was like Om Shanti Om just released 5 years ago and there was war happening.
It was Mahabharat ka yuddh. We wanted to kill each other and just look at us now. Everyone was quite comfortable. So you can never say never again. If you've been good friends there's a history that you share and I just hope everything works out well.
NDTV: I was going to say that's what's difficult in Bollywood. A fight with a friend and it becomes front-page news or national headlines and especially twitter out there.
Farah Khan: No, no it's a national headline and people taking sides and you know they think; Shah Rukh told me something very striking when we now patched up. He said, soon we'll have to open the paper to read about our own life and to know what we're thinking, you know because they seem to know it all.
NDTV: What's the big lesson from that, because in a sense that whole slapping incident was a culmination of 2 years of lots of bitterness?
Farah Khan: That's what I want to tell you, there was no slap. Shah Rukh told me he held Shirish, and he said that I was very happy that he didn't strike back because he kept my respect. So that also has become a rumour, that now the perception has become more than it should. But I think what we learnt all of us from that was that it's gone too far, and it's like you know, when you need a splash of, when two people are fighting you need to throw a bucket of water on their face.
It was literally intervention I would say, and if that hadn't happened maybe, we would not have gotten back together, become friends and we needed that one big thing, otherwise it was just fester, fester, fester, with too many people jumping in and adding kerosene into the fire.
NDTV: The point is, in so many ways the Industry kind of revolves around the 3 Khans. What's happening in the next generation? The stars seem to be staying away from that kind of thing.
Farah Khan: I think they are slightly, no, no, no, they are very calculative and they are very cold hearted. They are less emotional than this last generation, which I feel, because we are so emotional, everyone is so possessive and it's only because of that. Others are, like so ruthless i would say, which works for them in a way.
NDTV: As that question was asked now, where is Akshay Kumar?
Farah Khan: Akshay I think is on another planet shooting another film.
NDTV: Okay so it's not true that he's upset with Shah Rukh and all?
Farah Khan: No, no I don't think for any hero another actor comes to even take a picture with the aliens. And Shah Rukh literally has taken one picture with the aliens. That has become like he's promoting the movie and he also promoted Shirin Farhad far more than Joker and he did that for me because he loves me. Ask any hero if he will come and take a picture for some other hero's movie? They wouldn't. I think for Akshay it's a great compliment if Shah Rukh does that. He also went for Rowdy and did that chintata step and all that, one made a big hue and cry there.
NDTV: As I said, when I was asking these young people also. Farah Khan, the actress we want. Farah Khan, the director we know, the Farah Khan, the one who gives us answers. So am going to go across to Bhopal who had questions.
Bhopal Questioner: Congratulations for your new film, Ma'am, we are from Dynamic and we are dedicating you a dance performance. It's only for you Ma'am.
Farah Khan: That was so sweet. For me it was Michael Jackson very clearly. I saw Thriller and it kind of changed my life, and I was like that was my epiphany and I was like this is, is what I want to do in college. And literally dance really helped me through a lot of hard times you know. I was very happy when I was dancing and choreographing, even if it was in the canteen of Xavier's, and I think it's great. I mean people sometimes criticise Bollywood dancing and all, but I feel any dancing is good you know, and if it reaches interiors of our country and it reaches little kids and they have something to do, I think it's all good.
NDTV: It's interesting, I mean I have to say to have 2 directors in one family, husband and wife, how do you all actually work? Is it the same thing when his film is releasing? Are you more nervous than he is?
NDTV: Exactly. He doesn't show that he is, but I'm more nervous definitely when his film is releasing, when he goes to shoot or something. I'm like very protective about him. But we, the best thing is we leave each other alone and we don't, like for Joker, it's his baby. I come do the song, as a director. He likes to place the camera and everything. So I'm, I become like very humble and all. With other directors I would fight and say what rubbish. But I know this one has to come back home with me. So yes, we kind of, we give each other that creative space. We discuss a lot and we have intense discussions on the scripts and everything and what's happening and all. Other than that, creative inputs we, I at least don't give him.
NDTV: That's amazing. We were talking about how power equations keep changing, how difficult it must be in a couple. How it can be, I'm sure. Shirish, people would sometimes reduce him to Farah Khan's husband.
Farah Khan: Yes they did, a lot of times. Sometimes people can be crude. People also judge a marriage without knowing. They take it and I was asked this question many times, everyone is going on. In a house it's clearly not, when he married me, I was more successful than him and he's also 8 years younger than me. He still has a lot; I'm sure he will catch up and go far ahead.
We, it works for us. We do not discuss it I don't get upset now if he doesn't want to accompany me to premieres or functions, where he's clearly going to be sidelined by people who don't have the grace, or the manners, to acknowledge someone for what they are. So I'm also happy if he doesn't come for it. We found our comfort zone. We go out together every Friday, Saturday. We go watch a movie, we have dinner and we've got 3 kids. And so mostly now our social life is restricted to, which we really thoroughly enjoy. Yes, but in our Industry every thing rotates around how successful you are or not. So till he gets there, I think it's good. It irritates me more than it irritates him sometimes.
NDTV: No, I think it's really a mature way of handling it. We are nearly at the end of our show Farah, but we have some questions from someone who knows you well, Sajid Khan.
Farah Khan: Oh my God, I'll slap him if he asks me one question.
Sajid Khan: This is something I always wanted to ask you. But never had the patience or the guts to ask you face to face. How do you multi task? You're a working mother of three most beautiful kids in the world I'm very fond of. You're a choreographer and one of the top most filmmakers. You host reality shows. There is no charity, dinner, screening, any kind of event where you are not present, and you have the time to even act in movies like Shirin Farhad Ki Toh Nikal Padi, which by the way has not had a bad week end. So how do you multi task? So much and still how you are so loved and everyone's favourite? I only do one thing at a time and still don't get time to do other things. That's why I keep on putting on weight.
NDTV: You're never going to get a brother to get to say anything like that again.
Farah Khan: Never. I thought his question is, are you a man, because that's his favorite question to me. Every time he'll ask me and say I have a question, are you a man? And then I say no Sajid, I'm not, but are you?
NDTV: Tell him you are the only man in Bollywood.
Farah Khan: Why, being a woman is much better. Only reason I can multi task is because I'm a woman. A man's brains will get fried if he has to do 2 things at a time. You all agree with me? Sorry boys, you are not men yet. But I think he's lying. I do not socialise a lot of time, and if it's a charity event, yes if it's my charity I will take time. You will not see me at dinners, parties and premieres. That thing I had given up when I had children, very happily, so lots of time and effort is wasted in doing these things.
NDTV: Lets go back to the second question of Sajid.
Sajid Khan: You must remember very long time ago, when we used to stay in Bharat Nagar, I had bought a new television and we got into a fight, like we always got into fights, and once you even hit me on my head with that tongs. So my question is, when I placed you in that TV box ka carton and you were stuck there, I placed the carton under the steps and it was like a comedy. Charlie Chaplin black and white comedy scene, and then you were stuck and you had to apologise. Do you remember that incident?
NDTV: How old were you when that happened?
Farah Khan: I was almost 19 or 20 and he's also exaggerating. I did not apologise. I had to scream and shout for the neighbours to come and haul me out. After which I took a knife and ran behind him.
NDTV: Both of you share this great sense of humour.
Farah Khan: Yes our whole family has a great sense of humour, yes, my mom's very funny and my aunt and everyone. That's one thing that's good about our family through troubled times and whatever. We laughed through it all, even that becomes a great story to tell 2 or 3 years later.
NDTV: When you look back at those years, you know there were difficult times, especially in Bollywood. You've seen great highs, like you said it was riches to rags. Did that make you some of the person you are today?
Farah Khan: Yes, all our childhood, definitely some of the experiences you have in your childhood moulds you into either becoming what you are. Sigmund Freud would tell you it's all the childhood experiences. Sometimes you can choose whether you want to be bitter, hard and blame the whole world, or you want to become driven and you want to be competitive, and you want to make a better life for yourself. And luckily, at some point we thought Sajid was going to become a juvenile delinquent. It was.Sajid who was so traumatised by what was happening in our family, that he would go on a rampage and break people's cars.
Am so proud that he's doing what he is doing, because he was the black sheep of the family. We've taken him to jail. Daisy aunty's taken him. So I'm really proud how he's turned it all around and made it work for himself. Yes, I think we had a hard childhood and because of that we are not lazy or complacent or taking things for granted. We think; we know we didn't have it, and so we cherish it a little more.
NDTV: As I said, you all are listening patiently, so let's have questions from the audience.
Delhi Audience 1: Reportedly, you are Bollywood's oldest debutante. What are your views on this? Your performance in the movie has taken audience by surprise so how do you take the entire reception?
Farah Khan: It was very brave of Sanjay and Bela to make a movie like this. To have a film with such an old pair, that really is like a fresh breath of air. This is a simple, straight movie, it's not saying anything new, but you know, I could be the only 47-year old debutante in the entire Bollywood, I think.
NDTV: Two highlights are Chaiyya Chaiyya and six pack abs of Shah Rukh Khan in Om Shanti Om.
Farah Khan: Nothing can beat Chaiyya Chaiyya. It's like some magic happened. We really had that train literally for 5 days. We just had confidence. We believed we could do it. Of course we had Mani Ratnam, and I've done my best work with him. Santosh Sivan who could shoot under the train also, we had a really great team. We had Rahman. We had Gulzar. We had Shah Rukh, who was climbing near the bloody chimney of the train and dancing and of course we discovered Malaika, who was just stunning in the song. We had everything, it just came together for that song.
NDTV: Six-pack, you made that the talking point of the industry also.
Farah Khan: Lots of women blessed me for that six-pack. Shah Rukh Khan promised me during Main Hoon Na, he couldn't do shirtless scene in Main Hoon Na because he had a back problem then, and he said I'm not fit. And he promised, whenever I remove my shirt it'll be only for you.
And it was very sweet. We took a break from the shoot for 3 months to get the desired body, I was having morning sickness at the time, and as soon he would remove his shirt I would puke, but hats off to him, at 42 or something, he did that. He was also in pain. He would get cramps from dehydration, but apparently you can't drink water because that definition doesn't come. But he was so excited when he saw his pictures. He made blow-ups and put it up in his house.
NDTV: We are at the end of the show now, anything else? You want to ask a question?
Audience Question 2: Can I dance with you?
Farah Khan: Yes of course.
NDTV: Thank you so much Farah.