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Friday, December 2, 2022

Farhan Akhtar’s ‘Rearview Mirror’: Talking Music, Multi-Tasking & Self-Discovery

We all recognise Farhan Akhtar through his work as a filmmaker of hit and memorable movies like Dil Chahta Hai and Don.

But Farhan is a man of various talents. Director, writer, producer, actor, singer and now composer to add to this list.

Akhtar’s last project as an actor was Lucknow Central and since then, he had been on a break from the film industry.

This is because the multi-talented individual was busy expressing his emotions through writing and music.

His latest single ‘Rearview Mirror’ from the ‘Echoes’ album (which releases in January) has released.

Speaking in more detailed about the song, Farhan Akhtar talks to Filme Shilmy’s Anuj Radia.

How comes it’s taken you a while to take the ‘Rearview Mirror’ single out?

I guess there were people out there who just have a better idea of how to strategise these things than I do.

I’m just one to put it out on my social feed immediately, which I’m sure you’ve read little bits and pieces of my writing.

Since I had written it in form of song – there were about 10/11 tracks finally coming together.

We just thought it would be nice to have a plan to put it out so at least there’s awareness of the music being available.

The song revolves around the theme of self-discovery. Why did you choose this and did this specific theme help you to compose and croon the song?

Things that were happening in my life at the time.

There was a need to express what was going on and I had taken a break from my work.

I really had to deal with certain things that were happening – emotionally in my personal life.

The writing really helped me with it. As I started writing, it really took the shape of poetry and song.

So I felt it would be nice to share it with people – because it gave a sense of what I was doing and what had been going on in my life for the last couple of years.

Also, I feel that there’s a certain healing in sharing.

Eventually, things you do in life there is a learning process involved, regardless of whether you’re successful or not. That is important.

‘Rearview Mirror’ is a song in the English language. So how do you hope the track will strike a chord with non-English speakers, especially in India?

I really don’t know. I don’t actually have an answer to that (laughs). I just hope that there are people who listen to it.

The ones who understand the deeper meaning of the song, enjoy the production by the musicians and hear it for that.

Beyond that, i.e. where it reaches and how it relates to audiences who don’t understand the language (if they can be explained to) – I don’t know what’s going to happen with it.

These things can’t be planned. I can only hope for it and try my best.

My focus was on getting the music out.

An artist is always susceptible to critique and criticism. What do you – as a composer and singer – do to prepare yourself for this?

There’s nothing you can really do. There are people who really like what you do, then there are some who don’t.

This is a part of being in a field that’s up for critique.

So you take that in your stride. I think that if there was a part of me that I felt was doing work for reasons that are not sincere, that would sting a lot more.

Because then your intention would come into question.

For me, it was important to just get the music out regardless of how people react to it. That’s up to them.

Since you’re a singer and prominent figure in the music fraternity, what do you think is missing in the music of today?

More than creativity, I think the impetus has become on what (music) sounds like as opposed to what (a song) is saying.

For me, that is the shift.

We grew up at a time where the music was really about what is being said.

Nowadays, it is really difficult to understand what is being said.

It’s just the groove, the beat or a catchy hook-line.

There is a huge focus on music being catchy at the moment.

Plus, there is also a focus on people being able to dance to the music.

Somewhere because of that, I think there’s a certain unfortunate backseat that a songwriter has had to take.

Having said that though, once in a while you do get music that really stands out, like with Indian Ocean’s work in Masaan.

So what’s going wrong or missing?

I think where people have started to go wrong is that culturally, we are not only listeners we love to sing. Indians love to sing along.

You’ll never see other people playing Antakshari. You don’t see that in other places.

If anything you’ll see a busker doing it, but not any other ordinary person.

Culturally, music is ingrained in us which is why the lyric is so important.

If the lyrics do not register, the music will not be long-lasting.

There are many feathers to your cap Farhan. How do you balance multiple roles so well?

It’s about making time for things as and when they excite me.

I also think it is about having people around me who are extremely patient when I go off on a tangent (laughs).

For example, with this album over the last year and a half or two years, I hadn’t taken on any film work at all.

After I finished shooting for Lucknow Central, which was in 2016, I didn’t shoot for anything till last two months ago – for Shonali Bose’s film.

So it’s important to have people around you who also understand that whilst you’re working and heart is on something, just let me be and do my thing.

Even when I’m acting or directing a film. That becomes the be-all for that moment.

Listen to the full interview with Farhan Akhtar here!


It has been a while since we’ve seen you in the director’s seat. What can we next expect from ‘Farhan Akhtar’ as the director?

I do intend on direction sometime soon hopefully by the end of next year. Will talk about that nearer the time.

On the work front, Farhan is currently shooting for Shonali Bose’s The Sky Is Pink with Priyanka Chopra.

‘Rearview Mirror’ is now available to stream/download here: https://fanlink.to/RVM

Anuj Radia
Journalist and film enthusiast.

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