Farhan Akhtar on Toofan: Darrell Foster made me ready for the camera
Having learnt the ropes of boxing for Toofan since March, Farhan on how Hollywood action-choreographer fine-tuned the film's sequences
A quick glance at his repertoire reveals that Farhan Akhtar's choice of films have been anything but frivolous. If his upcoming film, The Sky Is Pink, hinges on an intriguing script, Akhtar says his boxing drama Toofan also offered the kind of solid storyline that he was seeking, so as to return to acting after his hiatus last year, to create music.
Akhtar's Instagram feed reeks of the toil he has been putting in to slip into the part of a boxer in Rakesh Omprakash Mehra's next, the prep of which, he tells us, commenced in March with professional boxer, Drew Neal. Leaving no stone unturned to ensure his punches hit viewers in their gut, he also employed action choreographer Darrell Foster, credited for training a long list of heavyweights, including Will Smith and Jada Pinkett-Smith, Antonio Banderas and Eddie Murphy.
"Darrell has been boxing since the age of 10. Now at 61, he is fitter than most teenagers I've seen," says Akhtar, crediting the athlete — with films like Ali and Bleed For This to his credit — for lending the film's stunt sequences an incredible finesse.
"With Drew, I learnt authentic boxing. But Darrell altered that to make sure I'm ready for the camera. For instance, while shooting, if I'd cover my face completely in a boxing stance, the audience will not be able to see me. At the same time, I can't lower my arms such that I look like I'm waiting to get hit. That's the kind of gap that Darrell bridged. He also designed most of the choreography. He's a taskmaster, but he also looks out for you, as well as the rest of the boxers on set; constantly ensuring they're all doing okay," says Akhtar, who will kick off the second shooting leg in November.
One might assume that the physical exertion he endured to ace his act as a runner in Bhaag Milkha Bhaag could be a deterrent to give his nod to yet another sports drama, but Akhtar suggests otherwise. "Running is not an alien concept. Everyone can run, some faster than the others, but you always have the general knowledge. Boxing is something I had to learn from scratch because I had never done it before. I am loving every bit of it."
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