Farhan Akhtar: The thing I love most about Chennai is that like me they are cinema obsessed!

All set for the release of his latest film, Toofaan, actor Farhan Akhtar talks about his physical training and how discipline trumps talent
Farhan Akhtar
Farhan Akhtar

Farhan Akhtar is at it again. A strapping, ripped body transformation for a film. The trailer of his latest feature impresses with a Farhan who is sporting a six-pack and surprises by spouting the typical crass dialect of Mumbai’s underworld. The Bhaag Milkha Bhaag star caught up with us earlier this week even as he was getting set for the release of his film Toofaan, on Amazon Prime Video today. The Mumbai-based actor started off by sharing his connection with the city. “The thing I love most about Chennai is that like me you are film and cinema obsessed! And of course the great food,” said Farhan, adding that his experiences in the city during the shoot for Dil Chahta Hai found him interacting with lovely, cultured people apart from exceptional engineers and musicians. Farhan has actress Mrunal Thakur as his co-star in this sport-based film and Paresh Rawal will be seen in an interesting role too. The Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara actor goes on to inspire us with his account of the grueling physical training he underwent for the role and how discipline was the name of the game. Excerpts.

<em>Stills from the film, Toofaan</em>
Stills from the film, Toofaan

Do tell us about the physical training that went into preparing for the role of a boxer for Toofan?

I trained for eight months before the shooting began. Six days a week, and five hours a day — where I trained three hours in the morning and two hours in the evening! And even after shooting began, the production team and the direction team would let me off so I could keep my skill updated. We noticed that you mentioned a six-day workout.

How many rules did you break on the seventh day – your cheat day?

The seventh day was not a cheat day. It was a great day of physio(therapy)! This man came over and repaired all my aches – especially for my legs. The training was really intense on my legs and they definitely needed some TLC!

How difficult was the diet?

The diet was protein-centric since the muscles had to be of a certain shape. But there were times when some amount of carb intake was needed for the large amounts of energy burnt every single day. Boxing is a very demanding and physical sport — we needed that carbohydrate fix.

What were the challenges while getting prepped for this role?

One advantage that I had was that I had knowledgeable people around me — who were approaching it (my training) like a science. They were not just caught up with the emotion of ‘Oh let’s create a body never seen before’! It wasn’t like that. Instead, it was about becoming a boxer — it was about ‘let’s live that lifestyle’.

What is your message to those attempting a dramatic fitness goal like the one you have achieved for this film?

Put your head down and put in the work. Discipline is the key — not anything else. This gentleman who came down from LA (to train me) — Darrel Foster — has been a boxer and has incredible experience in the arena of boxing. He would say that it was one thing to have a natural ability as a boxer — but if he were to bet his money on a fighter — he would back the one who got up and turned up every single day — the one who put in the hours. And not the one who might have a natural ability to box. That was the mantra followed (through my training and shoot) — what discipline can get you, nothing else can!

Toofaan releases on Amazon Prime Video on July 16

<em>Filmmaker Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra</em>
Filmmaker Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra

Masters of Madras

Toofaan’s film director Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra talks about what Chennai means to him and his favourite people in the city:

■ “For me Chennai means AR Rahman.That’s the first thing that comes to mind. AR and I have worked in more than one film — like Rang De Basanti — it was like a second home to me. In fact, we are working on another project right now. I have fond memories of staying up all night because AR likes to work at night!

■ “Chennai is also home to my favourite filmmaker — Mani Ratnam! He has inspired me to no end. I feel like I am visiting a temple everytime I go to see him. Chennai is very special to me!”

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