New Delhi, Jul 1 (PTI) 'Toofaan' promises a cinematic storm with its high on adrenaline boxing sequences, but actor Farhan Akhtar says the personal relationships of the characters is the core of the sports drama.
Akhtar underwent intense training to prep for the role of Aziz Ali aka Ajju Bhai, a goon who goes on to become a national level boxer, for his second film with director Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra, following another sports-based movie, 'Bhaag Milkha Bhaag' in 2013. The physical aspect of learning a new discipline like boxing was 'very challenging', the preparation for which tested his mental strength to the point that he wanted to throw in the towel.
'Learning a new discipline, a new sport, trying to be good at it requires a lot of focus and training. Fortunately, I had a great team. So they really worked me through all of it. But mentally you have to be really, really strong.
'There are times when you are in the middle of your training, where you are being pushed, where your body is wanting to quit but it's really your mind that's kind of telling you what it is that you're doing this for. Every ounce you give in there is to serve something which is the larger story of the film,' Akhtar told PTI in a group interview over Zoom.
The film also stars 'Super 30' actor Mrunal Thakur, who plays doctor Ananya and Aziz's love interest, and veteran actor Paresh Rawal as Nana Prabhu, his boxing coach.
Akhtar said the 'driving force' of 'Toofaan' is the incredible journey that Aziz, Ananya and Nana Prabhu are on.
'There's a lot that happens. The sport is really the backdrop... it's very exciting, of course, it's cinematic, there's adrenaline, all that stuff. But the heart of the film lies in the relationships between these characters,' the 47-year-old actor added.
'Toofaan', produced by Akhtar and his work partner Ritesh Sidhwani of Excel Entertainment and Mehra's ROMP Pictures, is slated to be released digitally on Amazon Prime Video on July 16.
The actor, who produces acclaimed series like 'Mirzapur', 'Made in Heaven' and 'Inside Edge' for the streamer, said it was about time the film was released.
'Rakeysh, Ritesh and I felt that it was the right time for the film. We found an amazing partner in Amazon that really has pulled all the stops in terms of promoting the film.' The release of the movie was deferred amid the surge in the COVID-19 cases in the country. It was previously scheduled to start streaming on Amazon from May 21.
'What is an artiste most greedy for? You want people to be able to watch your work, irrespective of the medium,' Akhtar said.
Given the current situation of the COVID-19 pandemic, the digital release is giving the audience an opportunity to watch the films from the safety of their home, he added.
'A good film will be a good film if you like it, wherever you watch it. It's the lasting impact of the film that truly tells you what it means to you.' The over-the-top platforms (OTT) and theatres are very different experiences and they will coexist.
'When you go to the theatre, you are on some level serving the social side of you... We are social animals, we enjoy being around other people and community experiences. Be it films, concerts, fairs, people like having shared experiences. That will never go away. I don't think theatres are going to go anywhere. I hope when things open up again, they do really well.' As an audience member, Akhtar said, he likes to have the option of watching a film in a cinema hall or at home on a digital platform.
'As much as I like watching something in the comfort of my home, there is a time I like to go out once in a while and be in that dark room with a crowd. Why can't I have both? Why do I have to pick one? Both will exist.' Post 'Bhaag Milkha Bhaag', the National Award-winning film based on the life of the late legendary athlete Milkha Singh, does he want to star in the biopic of any other personality? 'The reason it is difficult to answer (this question) is that when you say a name, it kind of negates the many other people who would have incredible stories,' Akhtar said, adding as a viewer, he would love to see films on Kishore Kumar, Guru Dutt and Fearless Nadia.
Written by Anjum Rajabali and Vijay Maurya, 'Toofaan' also features Supriya Pathak Kapur and Hussain Dalal. PTI RDS BK BK RDS RDS