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Farhan Akhtar

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Farhan Akhtar
Farhan Akhtar at a promotional event for Karthik Calling Karthik, 2010
Born (1974-01-09) 9 January 1974 (age 42)[1]
Mumbai, Maharashtra, India
Occupation Actor, director, producer, playback singer, singer, screenwriter, television host
Years active 1998–present
Spouse(s) Adhuna Akhtar (m. 2000)
Parent(s) Javed Akhtar (father)
Honey Irani (mother)
Relatives Zoya Akhtar (sister)
Shabana Azmi (stepmother)
Farah Khan (cousin)
Sajid Khan (cousin)
Awards National Film Award for Best Feature Film in Hindi (2002)

Farhan Akhtar (born 9 January 1974) is an Indian film director, screenwriter, producer, actor, playback singer, lyricist and television host. Born in Mumbai to screenwriters Javed Akhtar and Honey Irani, he grew up under the influence of the film industry. After completing his schooling in Maneckji Cooper school, he pursued a commerce degree in HR College, Mumbai, before dropping out, and beginning his career in films by working as an assistant director in Lamhe (1991) and Himalay Putra (1997).

Akhtar, after establishing a production company named Excel Entertainment along with Ritesh Sidhwani, made his directorial debut with Dil Chahta Hai (2001) and received critical acclaim for portraying modern youth. The film also won a National award. Following it, he made Lakshya (2004) and had his Hollywood debut through the soundtrack of Bride and Prejudice (2004), for which he wrote the lyrics. He went on to make the commercially successful Don (2006). He directed a short-film titled Positive (2007) to spread awareness on HIV-AIDS.

He started his acting career with Rock On!! (2008), for which he won a second National Award for Best Feature Film in Hindi as producer, and indulged in further experimentation before he acted in, produced and wrote the dialogues for the critical and commercial success Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara (2011), which won him two Filmfare Awards, including Best Supporting Actor. In the same year, he directed a sequel to Don titled Don 2 (2011), which remains as his highest-grossing film till date. He achieved further success by portraying Milkha Singh in the 2013 film Bhaag Milkha Bhaag, earning him the Filmfare Award for Best Actor.

Early life and background

File:Farhan Akthar and Adhuna Akthar.jpg
Farhan Akhtar with his wife Adhuna

Farhan Akhtar was born to screenwriters Javed Akhtar and Honey Irani in Mumbai. He has a sister, writer–director Zoya Akhtar. His parents divorced during his early days, and his father married Shabana Azmi in 1984.[2] Akhtar has termed his parents as the "harshest" critics in his career, and also considered Robert De Niro as an "inspiration" in the film industry.[3][4]

Akhtar is the great-grandson of renowned Urdu poet Muztar Khairabadi and grandson of Jan Nisar Akhtar. He is also the cousin of Farah Khan and Sajid Khan.[5][6] He did his schooling in Maneckji Cooper school in Mumbai and went on to study a law degree in the HR College, also in Mumbai,[7] during which he was dismissed from the institution in his second year due to lack of attendance. His next few years were spent mostly just watching movies. He married Adhuna Bhabani in 2000, after being in a relationship with her for 3 years.[8][9] The couple have two children named Shakya and Akira.[10]


Akhtar worked as an apprentice in cinematography and direction for Yash Chopra's Lamhe (1991) when he was 17 years old and later shifted to an advertisement production house named 'Script Shop' to spend an approximate 3 years there.[11] He also assisted Pankaj Parashar as a director in Himalay Putra (1997) before launching himself into direction and writing.[12]


Akhtar made his directorial debut with the coming-of-age film Dil Chahta Hai (2001) starring Aamir Khan, Akshaye Khanna, and Saif Ali Khan. At the time of its release, the film failed to do well at the box office by taking up a 'below average' opening and proceeded to become an 'average' grosser.[13] Over time, however, it has become recognized as a cult classic for its portrayal of Indian youth living a more urban lifestyle.[14] The film won several accolades including the National Film Award for Best Feature Film in Hindi and the Filmfare Critics Award for Best Movie.

Akhtar’s next project as a director was the war drama Lakshya (2004) starring Hrithik Roshan and Preity Zinta. The film, which was written by his father Javed Akhtar, failed at the box office and received mixed reviews from critics.

Akhtar’s next directorial venture was the action thriller Don, a modern retelling of the 1978 film of the same name written by his father Javed Akhtar with Salim Khan. Akhtar’s remake starred Shah Rukh Khan and Priyanka Chopra in the lead roles originated by Amitabh Bachchan and Zeenat Aman. While the film became a major commercial success, some critics were disappointed in the treatment of some scenes compared to the original Don (1978).

After directing the short film Positive to raise awareness about HIV-AIDS, Akhtar took a break from directing to focus on other career ventures in Bollywood. He returned to directing with the action thriller Don 2 (2011), which featured Shah Rukh Khan and Priyanka Chopra in their roles from Don (2006). The film emerged as a major commercial success and received critical praise for its action sequences, direction, and cinematography.


In 1999, Akhtar established the production company Excel Entertainment along with his friend Ritesh Sidhwani. Their first three films were Dil Chahta Hai (2001), Lakshya (2004), and Don (2006), which were all directed by Akhtar himself.

Excel then produced the films of four debut directors: Reema Kagti (Honeymoon Travels Pvt. Ltd. in 2007), Abhishek Kapoor (Rock On!! in 2008), Akhtar’s sister Zoya Akhtar (Luck by Chance in 2009), and Vijay Lalwani (Karthik Calling Karthik in 2010). These films were all critically acclaimed and achieved moderate commercial success.

Excel’s action thriller Game, which featured a large ensemble cast, failed critically and commercially. However, they then produced Zoya Akhtar’s coming-of-age film Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara (2011), which fared very well at the box office and received rave reviews from critics. The film went on to win several awards at the 57th Filmfare Awards, including Best Film and Best Director. They then produced the blockbuster Don 2 (2011) directed by Akhtar himself.

Excel’s next release was Reema Kagti’s neo-noir mystery thriller Talaash: The Answer Lies Within (2012), which fared well at the box office and received praise from critics for its unconventional approach. Excel then produced the coming-of-age comedy Fukrey (2013), which became a moderate success despite a poor opening.

As of May 2015, Excel is set to release Zoya Akhtar’s family drama Dil Dhadakne Do and Karan Anshuman’s comedy Bangistan in the summer of 2015. They have also announced 2016 releases of Raees and Rock On!! 2.


Akhtar wrote the story, screenplay, and dialogue for his first directorial venture Dil Chahta Hai (2001) and won the Filmfare Award for Best Screenplay for his work. He also wrote the screenplay and dialogue for Don (2006) and Don 2 (2011).

Akhtar collaborated with his sister Zoya Akhtar to write lyrics for select songs on the soundtrack of the English film Bride & Prejudice (2004). He has also written the dialogue for many Excel Entertainment films, such as Rock On!! (2008), Game (2011), Talaash: The Answer Lies Within (2012), and Dil Dhadakne Do (2015). He also wrote the dialogue for Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara (2011), for which he won the Filmfare Award for Best Dialogue.


Akhtar made his acting debut in Abhishek Kapoor’s Rock On!! (2008) alongside Arjun Rampal, Prachi Desai, Purab Kohli, and Shahana Goswami. His portrayal of the lead singer of a rock band earned him much praise and many accolades, including the Filmfare Award for Best Male Debut (which he shared with Imran Khan). Akhtar then went on to play the lead roles of an aspiring actor in his sister Zoya’s Luck by Chance (2009) and an introverted corporate employee in Vijay Lalwani’s Karthik Calling Karthik (2010). Both roles earned him praise from critics, but neither of the films fared particularly well at the box office.

He then played the supporting role of a carefree young man in his sister Zoya’s Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara (2011) alongside an ensemble cast including Hrithik Roshan, Abhay Deol, Katrina Kaif, and Kalki Koechlin. His performance won him the Filmfare Award for Best Supporting Actor.

He was then seen playing Olympic runner Milkha Singh in the blockbuster biographical sports drama Bhaag Milkha Bhaag (2013) directed by Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra. The role, which required a lot of physical preparation and research into the life of Milkha Singh, earned Akhtar unanimous praise from critics and many awards including the Filmfare Award for Best Actor. He then starred opposite Vidya Balan in the relatively unsuccessful romantic comedy Shaadi Ke Side Effects (2014) about a married couple who experience a series of comic events after having a child.

Akhtar will next be seen playing the supporting role of a journalist in his sister Zoya’s family drama Dil Dhadakne Do (2015) alongside an ensemble cast including Anil Kapoor, Shefali Shah, Priyanka Chopra, Ranveer Singh, and Anushka Sharma. The film is centered around a dysfunctional Punjabi family on a cruise trip, and Akhtar will be playing Chopra’s love interest in the film. He has also completed work on the psychological drama Wazir with Amitabh Bachchan, and is currently filming for Raees with Shah Rukh Khan. He has also signed on to star in Rock On!! 2 alongside Arjun Rampal, Prachi Desai, Purab Kohli, and Shraddha Kapoor.


Akhtar has done his own playback singing in films like Rock On!! (2008), Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara (2011), Shaadi Ke Side Effects (2014), and Dil Dhadakne Do (2015). In 2013, he founded a band called Farhan Live (of which he is the lead singer) that tours across college festivals in India. They play mostly rock and Bollywood music.

Non-film work

Farhan Akhtar at tree planting event in Mumbai in Jan 2012

Akhtar appeared as one of the nine judges in the beauty pageant, Femina Miss India (2002).[15] He was the judge on the first season of the dance-reality show, Nach Baliye (2005). He hosted a TV show on NDTV Imagine, called Oye! It's Friday! in the same year.[16] He has endorsed several brands as a part of his career, especially after the release of ZNMD. These include Hindustan Unilever's water purifier product titled Pureit, Vijay Mallya's alcohol firm United Spirits, and watchmaker Titan Industries. His endorsements are managed by Atul Kasbekar.[17]

Men Against Rape and Discrimination

Men Against Rape and Discrimination or MARD is a social campaign launched by Akhtar. The idea came to the mind of Akhtar when in August 2012, Pallavi Purkayastha, a lawyer by profession, was sexually assaulted and then killed by her home watchman.[18]


Director, actor and producer

Year Title Role Actor Director Producer
2001 Dil Chahta Hai Yes
2004 Lakshya Yes
2006 Don Yes Yes
2007 Positive Yes
2007 Honeymoon Travels Pvt. Ltd. Yes
2008 Rock On!! Aditya Shroff Yes Yes
2009 Luck By Chance Vikram Jaisingh Yes Yes
2010 Karthik Calling Karthik Karthik Narayan Yes Yes
2011 Game Yes
2011 Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara Imraan Yes Yes
2011 Don 2 Yes Yes
2012 Talaash Yes
2013 Fukrey Yes
2013 Bombay Talkies Himself Yes
2013 Bhaag Milkha Bhaag Milkha Singh Yes
2014 Shaadi Ke Side Effects Sid Yes
2015 Dil Dhadakne Do Sunny Gill Yes Yes
2015 Wazir TBA Yes Yes
2016 Rock On!! 2 TBA Yes Yes

Playback singer

Year Title Song
2008 Rock On!![19]
"Socha Hai"
"Pichle Saat Dinon Mein"
"Rock On!!! ashiquie 2


"Tum Ho Toh"
"Sinbad The Sailor"
2011 Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara[20]
"Toh Zinda Ho Tum"
"Señorita" (Remix)
2014 Shaadi Ke Side Effects "Yahaan Wahaan"[21]
2015 Dil Dhadakne Do "Dil Dhadakne Do"[22]


Year Film Award Category Result
2002 Dil Chahta Hai 49th National Film Awards[23] Best Feature Film in Hindi Won
47th Filmfare Awards[24][25] Critics Award for Best Movie
Best Screenplay
Best Film Nominated
Best Director
3rd International Indian Film Academy Awards[26] Best Screenplay Won
2009 Rock On!! 55th National Film Awards[27] Best Feature Film in Hindi
53rd Filmfare Awards[28][29] Best Male Debut
Best Male Playback Singer Nominated
10th IIFA Awards[30] Star Debut of the Year – Male Won
5th Stardust Awards[31] Superstar of Tomorrow – Male
14th Screen Awards[32] Most Promising Newcomer – Male
2010 Luck By Chance 8th Apsara Film & Television Producers Guild Awards[33] Best Film Nominated
7th Stardust Awards[34] Superstar of Tomorrow – Male
2012 Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara 56th Filmfare Awards[35] Best Film Won
Critics Award for Best Movie
Best Supporting Actor
Best Dialogue
18th Screen Awards[36][37] Best Dialogue
Best Ensemble Cast (part) Nominated
6th Asian Film Awards[38] Best Film
13th Zee Cine Awards[39] Best Supporting Actor Won
13th IIFA Awards Best Supporting Actor
9th Apsara Film & Television Producers Guild Awards[40][41] Best Film
Best Actor in a Supporting Role
Best Dialogue Nominated
13th International Indian Film Academy Awards[42] Best Film Won
Best Supporting Actor
Don 2 56th Filmfare Awards[43] Best Film Nominated
Best Director
13th Zee Cine Awards[44] Best Film
Best Director
8th Stardust Awards[45] Film of the Year
Dream Director
2014 Bhaag Milkha Bhaag 20th Life OK Screen Awards Screen Award for Best Actor Won
9th Renault Star Guild Awards Best Actor In A Leading Role
59th Filmfare Awards[46] Best Actor
15th IIFA Awards[47] IIFA Award for Best Actor
Zee Cine Awards[48] Best Actor Male- Jury


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  22. ^ Dil Dhadakne Do#Soundtrack
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External links

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