We were worried he had no ambition at all: Zoya on Farhan

by Sathya Saran

Editor’s Note: No one knows a man better than the women in his life. Be it his mother, wife, daughter or friend, they offer a unique and intimate perspective on men with larger-than-life media personalities. In this new series titled ‘In Her Eyes,’ we ask these women to offer their frank, unedited, and always affectionate view of the men they love dearly. Their responses are honest, revealing, and unexpectedly familiar.

There’s little to choose between them: siblings, a year apart, Zoya and Farhan are cinema’s darlings. In their own way, each has inherited the legacy that mother Honey, father Javed and perhaps grandfather Jan Nissar Akhtar owned as creative people with a huge measure of talent.  Farhan is Zoya’s hero, that is clear, and he in turn is the perfect brother. And yet they are individuals, with lives that might run parallel but separate.

A Zoya-eye view on the maker of Dil Chahta Hai and the two Don movies.

Is he the ideal brother?

Well, we are close. I can’t imagine life without him, he is a great brother. But of course it has not always been so. We went through the normal rites of passage, from the ‘get out of my room’, to the beatings and fist fights, and all the sibling rivalry that being one year apart brings with it. But today, he is the perfect brother.

Which means he is also the ‘protective’, I decide type?

I’m the older one.... no, he is protective but not possessive. He’s not a bully. I think we were both brought up to believe in the concept of giving space to those close to us. His life is his, mine is mine. We respect boundaries... we don’t ever get involved in each other’s personal space.

What was he like as a boy, growing up?

Hyperactive. Could not sit still for a moment. And he was so finicky about his food!

Was there ever a bad patch? Can you share that?

Well, there was a time, a long time, when he did absolutely nothing. And the funny thing was that he felt no guilt about it. He could happily stay home, watch 3 or 4 films... I would say, “You haven’t moved,” and he’d respond “Yeah,” that’s all.  I called them his 'Loser Years'. I would say, “Do something, get a job or something. If you don’t want to attend college, then get a job at least.” But he was happy doing nothing. I just could not understand it.

Was he a bad student, is that why he decided to do nothing?

No, he was bright, extremely bright. But not academically inclined. Yet he knows so much. He knows the entire history of the world, has read all the books on it. But he would concentrate on what he liked, history, literature.

What was his reaction to your boyfriends?

Well, there were some he would like more, some less. I had my own opinions too about his girls, but no, there were no filmi dramas.

Farhan is Zoya’s hero, that is clear, and he in turn is the perfect brother. Getty Images

How does he view your work?

He is very helpful. In fact I am the one who should feel guilty. He helped me with my film while he was working on his, but once my film was through, while he was still working on his, I went off on a holiday. I don't think he would ever have done that!

You do sometimes work together, how does that go?

Well, if he’s helping me in my film, he does share his point of view. But if it’s my film, I have the last word, and so it is for his film. In work too we respect each other’s space.

How is he different from you in temperament?

As a kid, I was the rebellious one, I would voice my opinions. He would say yes, yes and do exactly what he wanted. But we did not have too many don’ts in our life. I think the only time we were all worried was when he seemed to have no ambition at all!

How did he take the fact that your parents were separating?

There was trauma, we both lived through it. But it was all handled so civilly, that it was not as painful as it could have been. Yes the divorce hurt us, there was pain, but it is over now. We were young, 10 or 11, and that’s not an easy age to cope with parents divorcing.

How would you describe him as a director?

He’s disciplined, very orderly. Reserved. He’s very focused. Unlike me who can work anywhere and like having friends around when I work, he needs to lock himself in a room. But he can multitask too! He outdid himself. While he produced, directed and acted in his own film, he also helped me with mine! That was amazing.

What else does he do that is creative?

I love his poetry. He recites some of it. But it’s personal, for himself. I don’t think he will ever publish.

What does he write poems on?

So many things... from riots to love. But he’s very secretive about them.

How do you rate him as a son?

Very close to his mother. She is his conscience, and he shares her sense of fun. From our father he has imbibed poetry and a love for words, and his wit.

What would you wish for him in his career?

I think he is an incredibly talented actor and story teller. He takes a script and lifts it to amazing levels. I can only wish he attains his full potential. He has ventured into new areas on his own, and can do so much more.

Don 2 is getting pretty bad reports, and even being critically panned. How is Farhan reacting?

It's got mixed reviews. He is only looking at his collections and smiling.