Farhan Akhtar

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Farhan Akhtar : biography

09 January 1974 –

Acting and singing

In 2008, Akhtar made his acting and singing debut in a musical film titled Rock On!!, for which he wrote the dialogues and also produced. The film was directed by Abhishek Kapoor. Prachi Desai, Arjun Rampal and Purab Kohli co-starred along with him. As he had been learning guitar ever since the start of his directing career, he had been well-versed with it and used it for the film. The role played by him was that of Aditya, lead singer of the rock band "Magik". He sang five songs from the soundtrack album. The film was acclaimed by critics and received positive reviews upon release. Gaurav Malani of The Economic Times wrote that the film seemed to be "clearly designed by Farhan Akhar as his own acting debut and he doesn’t let himself down. Lending voice to all his songs helps him to get into his character with effortless ease. One could certainly overlook the lisp in his dialogue delivery." Manish Gajjar of BBC wrote of his performance: "Director-turned-actor, Farhan Aktar surprises all with his superb, flawless performance, transforming from a hippy-style lead-singer to a subdued, dismal workaholic banker." Akhtar received several accolades for his debut performance. The film, in addition won the National Award for Best Feature Film in Hindi. However, it did not create an impact at the box office and turned out to be an ‘average’ grosser.

After refusing an offer to sing a song for A. R. Rahman’s album Blue, Akhtar acted in, and produced his sister Zoya’s directorial and written debut, Luck By Chance which had Hrithik Roshan and Konkona Sen Sharma in the lead roles. He was cast in the film after being deemed as a "perfect choice" for it. The story of the film revolved around a struggling actor who arrives in Mumbai to become a film star. It was released on 30 January 2009. Though failing to do well at the box office and being declared as a "flop", the film received generally positive reviews from critics. Neil Genzlinger from The New York Times said: "It is Mr. Akhtar whose understated performance holds together this far-ranging, cameo-filled film. He manages to remain sympathetic even while wreaking romantic havoc." Rajeev Masand noted: "Farhan Akhtar delivers a simple-enough likeable performance that is just what the film required — no showy flourishes, no loud outbursts, just a straight off spontaneous act that works like a dream."

Following Luck By Chance, Akhtar acted in a project titled The Fakir of Venice, which was initially scheduled to release before Rock on!! and was supposed to be his acting debut. Due to several delays, it was released in mid-2009. It was written and directed by Anand Surapur, and accepted by Akhtar after he described its script as "very powerful", while emphasising that it "touches upon weaknesses and confusions in all human beings." Before release, it premiered at the Indian Film Festival of Los Angeles, and the Venice Film Festival at the ArcLight Hollywood. Kirk Honeycutt of The Hollywood Reporter praised the film and felt that "Akhtar, a producer, director and writer making his film debut here as an actor, is talented and handsome enough – and with looks that could translate into any number of ethnicities – to have a huge career ahead of him."

Akhtar acted in, and produced his next film, Karthik Calling Karthik (2010), a romantic thriller directed by Vijay Lalwani. He played Karthik, an introvert character, starring alongside Deepika Padukone for the first time. Preparation for the role involved working on the Rubik’s Cube, which he learnt from the director. The film received mixed reviews and praise for Akhtar’s acting from critics, with Sukanya Verma highlighting that "He conveys the anxiety, simplicity and frailty of Karthik even when the script isn’t doing it for him. Perhaps it’s his innate filmmaker instinct." The film had a good opening at the box office, as it was targeted towards the youth of the multiplexes. However, it failed to continue on its business and went on to become a ‘below average’ grosser.