Farhan talks about his musical muse
After a disastrous start, Farhan Akhtar found his musical muse. The guitar he carries along wherever he goes
Farhan Akhtar was just a toddler when his parents, writers Javed Akhtar and Honey Irani, noticed that the young boy would not just listen rapt to the music of the day including the classics, but would also note down his version of the song so that he could sing it later.
In their enthusiasm to nurture his talent, they bought him a harmonium and appointed a music coach. “But somehow,” Farhan recalls, “I never did get into the instrument and, in fact, it put me off wanting to learn music.”
It was years later when family friend, Benjamin Gilani, started strumming the guitar on periodic picnics to Khandala the family undertook, that the love for music reawakened. “I just wanted to be Benji Uncle. Those evenings spent around the bonfire with a young man and his guitar were fascinating,” he sighs.
With music a major part of his life now, Farhan listened to all varieties of music but it was only when he was a 22-year-old that he got his first guitar, a present from his dad “who was probably making it up to me because he felt responsible for the harmonium fiasco.”
Detailing the fascination that began then and continues to be the most important aspect of his life after acting and directing, Farhan says, “I taught myself from books and instructional videos. I had a lot of friends who played with different bands from whom I would take tips to help me play better.
When I started working with Shankar Ehsaan Loy and spending so much time with them in the studio, Ehsaan would constantly be giving me tips and it was he who suggested that I get myself a better guitar, which I did.
I bought myself a Yamaha, moved on to a Gibson, then another Gibson and now I also have an electric guitar which is utterly beautiful.”
When Rock On!! happened, it was like a dream come true for Farhan. “It was always very difficult to find time to pursue this passion because, after all, it isn’t my primary job.
But during Rock On!! we were constantly jamming for more than six months and not just while recording but during breaks and with other musicians too. That’s when I really honed my skills. Guitar playing isn’t just about knowing the notes but it’s also about changing them really quick and stuff like that.”
A guitar is now his constant companion. “When I go out with family and friends whether it’s to Goa or Mahabaleshwar or wherever, there is invariably one night when everyone gathers around and we sing songs, so it’s nice to have my guitar with me.
I’ve even made books with the lyrics for anyone who wants to singalong. In fact, some of my friends have kids who are fascinated by the guitar and totally into the music and I see delight on their faces when these evenings happen.”
And Farhan Akhtar is the next Benji Uncle.
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