The multi-talented choreographer turned director Farah Khan is currently in town for the 17th Tongues on Fire London Asian Film Festival. The filmmaker was a special guest at the festival, showcasing her choreography and directing knowledge in masterclasses over the weekend as well as being present at the screening of her film ‘Om Shanti Om’ (2007), in which the audience was invited to sing and dance along.
BizAsia��had the privilege of meeting Khan just before she embarked on her choreography masterclass.
You were in London last for ‘Happy New Year’ in October, what’s been happening since then?
Since then the movie released. It did very well. I then got busy doing ‘Bigg Boss’, I took over from Salman Khan. Then I did my cooking show, ‘Farah Ki Daawat’, which is doing rather well in India but I don’t know about London. It’s rating very well over there. And now I need a break. (laughs)
What are you hoping to teach people during the choreography masterclass?
Well, firstly, people should know that it’s not a dance class happening. We’re not physically going to be choreographing people and showing them dance moves. There will be a lot of discussion on the songs that I’ve done, how we did it and what was the thought process. It’s a bit like the ‘Actor Prepares’ workshop about the songs that I’ve choreographed down the years.
This is probably one of the first time that the London Asian Film Festival is showcasing singing and choreography and not just films. How important do you think that is for a film festival to do?
I think because it’s also talking about Bollywood, it’s looking as the unique aspects of Bollywood which are the songs and dances. It’s a nice way of doing something different in a film festival… I don’t think this would happen in the Berlin Film Festival. Well, the last time people sang and dances in the aisles was during the Berlin Film Festival. All the critics and everyone were singing and dancing in the end. You have to keep reinventing the festival otherwise all the festivals are the same.
You’re also delivering a masterclass in directing while you’re here. As a female director who started when there weren’t too many females around, to today where we have the Zoya Akhtars, Reema Kagtis and Farah Khans, how has the industry changed from your perspective since you began as a director?
As you said, there are a lot more women directors. I think because ‘Main Hoon Na’ (2014) did so well… If you go back you will see that it was the first big commercial success made by a woman director. The critics may have thrashed the movie or said whatever they wanted but it opened a lot of doors for women. Women started getting big budgets for films, big stars also started working with women directors. ‘Om Shanti Om’ kind of put the thappa on that and ‘Happy New Year’ is the biggest grosser ever for any woman director. I’m sure whether I want to be put in that woman director category but if it helps other woman to come up and do other jobs in the industry which have only been handled by men earlier, I think it’s a step in the right direction.
Last year’s ‘Happy New Year’ seems to still be on its own journey having recently been the widest release on iTunes. However, recently, there’s been a story that Ed Sheeran would be featuring in the sequel. What can you tell us about this?
(Laughs) Well, I don’t know if there’s ever going to be a sequel but if there is then Abhishek is writing the script for it. I think I had the job of baby-sitting Ed Sheeran when he came to Mumbai for a show because my cousin actually handles his paperwork and his contracts. I took him to Abhishek’s house for a party. Of course, after one hour, both of them were inebriated enough to tell me that a ‘Happy New Year’ sequel is happening and Ed Sheeran in acting in it. I was also very happy. I don’t know if there’s going to be a sequel. I haven’t thought of it but if someone comes up with a good enough idea then, more than anything else, we’d all like to come back together because we had a ball making the movie.
When we spoke to Abhishek last, he hinted about a sequel before the film had released too.
He’s very eager to do a sequel. I’ll have to make him do a full snake dance in this sequel now wearing a snake costume.
BizAsia would like to thank the lovely Farah Khan for taking the time to talk to us.
The London Asian Film Festival 2015 is currently ongoing, do check the website for details on the upcoming events this week.