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BULL'S EYE!

Two years after `Dil Chahta Hai' warmed the hearts of cinemagoers, Farhan Akhtar is ready with `Lakshya'.


HE SET out to make "a quality film" with a crew of 300. He went to Los Angeles to find an ace cinematographer and ended up with Christopher Popp, a man who had seen as many Hindi films as Farhan Akhtar had made himself - one. He signed Amitabh Bachchan for the lead role, then decided he would go in for a role reversal. He did the unthinkable. He decided Bachchan will not play the lead! The film will have Hrithik Roshan as the lead and Bachchan will "only have an important supporting role"!

Later, he decided to take his cast and crew all the way to Ladakh where all but the most disciplined survived - again a high-risk proposition in an industry where stars are as much known for tantrums as their ability to deliver at the box office.

Enough of oddities, Farhan Akhtar with a heart-warming film on male bonding `Dil Chahta Hai' under his belt, decided it was time to come up with another film. Time to meet `Lakshya', a film as patriotic as any reeled out by Bollywood in recent times. The film is now ready for release and Farhan is quite unflappable about its timing. A film based on Indo-Pak conflict comes at high noon of Indo-Pak amity.


Yet Farhan says, "It does not worry me that the film is coming at this time. In fact, it is good that India and Pakistan are friends now. But my film is about how Kargil should not have happened. It is about realising the value of a soldier's life. It is about remembering the past so that we do not get carried away by the present."

However, despite all the feel-good talk about the film, isn't it coming at the wrong time? Pak bashing did not work in J. P. Dutta's `LOC'?

"I believe in my idea. I am following my heart. I have not seen `LOC' so I cannot say why it did not work. But I believe a quality film will always succeed. And that is what I believe we have been able to come up with.

"Above all, my film is not one of those loud Pak bashing exercises. It is about Hrithik Roshan. Even Amitabh Bachchan has only a supporting role. He has a small but important role. He has been clear from the beginning that this is Hrithik's film. Hrithik's character has two distinct facets. In one he is a lazy loser, an aimless drifter, good for nothing guy. He is without a lakshya (aim). Inadvertently, he find himself joining the Army. This leads to self-discovery and he find traits he never suspected himself of having."

As Hrithik finds his way, his lakshya, the film gets its name. And Farhan claims all along he has only been concerned about one thing: Will he be able to meet his aim of making a high-quality film? He did not change a line in the script of the film after Hrithik again became hot property at the box office, following the success of `Koi Mil Gaya'.

"All along I knew Hrithik was playing the lead. We wrote the script first but we did not alter it to suit his character. There was no time or effort to capitalise on his success. He just fit the character perfectly. Not a line was added to bolster it."

So, in this perfect saga, Farhan makes light of any pressure of expectations. "My aim was to make sure that I make the film the way the writer visualised it. I only wanted to make a quality product. All these months I was too tied up to think of repeating the success of `Dil Chahta Hai'. I only wanted to commit myself to this film as much as I committed to `DCH'. I wanted to give this movie as much of my own."

Talking of the effort involved in making `Lakshya', it easily beats the one involved in that male camaraderie saga, `DCH'.

"Yes, the size of the film, its scale occupied so much mental space. It was too much for me personally what with a crew exceeding 300. I have had no time to think of the audience pressure after the success of the first film. But I think I have succeeded, managed to make a film I feel can be called an honest attempt at realising what the writer set out to do. It has been possible only with the dedication and time extended by so many people. I am mentally too drained to allow any other thoughts to come into my mind." That's `Lakshya' for you.

ZIYA US SALAM

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