Farhan Akhtar: All about your reaction to an event
Assorted memories culminating to form his debut album, Farhan Akhtar says, at its crux, Echoes celebrates love that once was
Soon after wrapping up his commitments towards Lucknow Central in 2017, Farhan Akhtar used the security that almost 20 years of a successful Bollywood run afforded him, to steal time for a "passion project". "The moment I put aside my film commitments, my plan was to [bring my music] together in the form of an album," he says, moments after winding up a fairytale-like listening session of Echoes. The toil that he has put into his work notwithstanding, Akhtar may easily come across as among the most fortunate. After all, in a world where few manage to make time for matters that appease the heart, he had the chance to pull the breaks on one artistic career to dabble in another.
Recorded and shot in Milan, Echoes' videos are bathed in pastel hues of green and blue. It's an apt selection for an album that banks on melancholy as Akhtar retraces memories that have had a lasting impact on him. "The album is an [assorted] collection of thoughts, ideas and writing of many years. Yet, collectively, it [reiterates the point of] dealing with love and loss, and cherishing what you once had, and then moving on. I met Tommaso [Colliva, producer] at a music festival, and, [while discussing my album] realised that he [was well-informed]. He wasn't interested in the instruments I wanted to use, or other [technical aspects]. He just wanted to know why each song was written, and what I was doing at that point in my life."
It is only natural that Akhtar picked English, a language he "thinks in", to emote. "Not many know that even when I write a script, the first draft is in English." His takeaway from his debut offering then had little to do with utilising the language. "The learning was based on things like using the microphone, understanding where to be intimate and when to [strongly] belt out [the song]. Also, [we employed] old-school [methods], where we played together in a studio. That creates a creative environment because there's a human connection with other musicians."
Akhtar doesn't bat an eyelid when responding to questions on his favourite track. "It's tough to pick one when it's your own album." Yet, before he can bat it again, he already has an answer. Why Couldn't It Be Me was written by him in the wake of the 2014 Peshawar school massacre. "I read about this schoolboy who had bunked school that day, and his brothers, who attended it, were killed. What a strange dilemma he must have been in; to grieve, but still feel lucky! It may not be directly linked [to my life] but it's about how you react to something, even if it's a news piece." Seagulls, a poem he wrote 25 years ago, "when a dear friend moved away from Mumbai", is another favourite. " I felt a serious amount of grief. But, with the poem, I focused on celebrating how much we loved each other."
Farhan - Pain or Pleasure - Song from his album Echoes
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