Khuda Haafiz director Faruk Kabir on how to create magic with fashion

Director Faruk Kabir gets candid on how he spins magic behind the camera, causes close to his heart and his relationship with fashion

faruk kabir boat Camouflaging a secret location somewhere along the coast of the Arabian sea in Mumbai, Faruk says he loves watching sunset here. About his ensemble, he says “I love this silk shirt with beige linen pants. The whole outfit is so fuss-free.” For him, comfort, quality and subtlety are primary requirements when it comes to his personal style (Printed shirt, Yavi; Trousers, Replay)

What drew you to the film industry?

I always knew I wanted to do something in films. I was an active member of our vibrant drama and theatre scene in school. Shakespeare had a huge influence on me and I still carry a lot of that with me. I started with writing and got the chance to direct my first play at 16. But  even then I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to do. That’s when my father suggested I spend time on a film set and figure out what piques my interest. As it turned out, I landed a gig as one of the ADs on Asoka with Shah Rukh Bhai. I was just 18 then. Once I was on the sets, I understood that cinema is the amalgamation of all the arts, and actually an art in motion. I knew I wanted to direct then. 

Also read: Actor Sharib Hashmi flips the script on fashion

You’re very inclined to martial arts. How did that come about?  

I am a boarding school boy, where we were encouraged to incorporate physical exercise and sports into our lives. I started boxing really early and it might not be a widely appreciated sport in India but I think it builds a lot of character, discipline and strength. It made me very goal-oriented and still does. I think the director, on a set, should be the fittest person: be it physically, emotionally, mentally or spiritually. 

Looking back, which project of yours has been the most challenging?

All my projects have a new challenge and I enjoy that. No matter what stage I reach or what I have learned. Each project teaches me something new and helps me evolve and learn from the experience. That said, Khuda Haafiz was personally challenging because I lost my father a week before our shooting schedule and I went into the film kind of quiet and not my usual self. Even before shooting began, through the prep of that film, my father was in and out of hospitals and battling health conditions. So personally, that film was the most challenging for me. 

faruk kabir vintage camera Basking in the feeling of joie de vivre around vintage cameras like a true filmmaker, Faruk says this fit was quintessential for his day at Mumbai’s Chor Bazaar. The green jumper made him blend right in with his surroundings, the corduroy pants added a nice contrast to the look (Green knitted pullover and corduroys, Scotch and Soda; Shoes, Nike Designer Wear Collection)

Having worked with actors like Shah Rukh Khan, Naseeruddin Shah and Ajay Devgn, who do you cherish working with the most?

I enjoy working with Vidyut Jammwal on Khuda Haafiz a lot because of the energy and relationship we have. From a learning standpoint, I thoroughly enjoyed working with Naseer saab. He brought a lot to the table, beyond being a stellar actor. I remember, when we were shooting Allah Ke Bandey, his character was very dishevelled, with no resemblance to his glorious characters. Even then he played the part with such finesse. He had very collaborative energy and beyond being an actor, he wanted to create something great with the director. As a director, you hope actors give you more than you expect and more than their job description, and Naseer saab did just that. 

Also read: Karan Kundrra on acting, fashion, Bigg Boss and more: "The joy of acting is indescribable"

If you could change something about the film industry, what would it be?

As a fraternity, I’d love to see more unity within the industry. Across the socio-economic barrier of all artists — be it directors, actors, producers, everyone. Feeling happy about other people’s success is something I’d like to see more of in the industry.

faruk kabir mini cooper This may look like Monte Carlo in the 90s but don’t be fooled, Faruk insists the shot was taken in front of a hotel in Mumbai. “That’s the advantage of being a filmmaker. I know all the good locations,” he says. For Faruk, the cool beige and brown tones exude luxury in this look, the blue contrast is in complete harmony with the lemony yellow of the Polo Beetle (Jacket, Allsaints; Shoes, Christian Louboutin; Bag, Scotch & Soda; Glasses, Tom Ford)

How did Khuda Haafiz happen, from inception to the final film?

The film is based on a true story, which I stumbled upon while reading newspaper one day. It struck me so much that I cut that column up and kept it. It triggered me instantly and I knew that one day I will invest my time and energy into writing a screenplay and making this film. During my research and writing, I always got the sense that it was Ramayan being retold. I felt themes of that in a totally different metaphor. As the project moved forward, I met the producers, Vidyut and all the actors, and did almost three months of readings. I’m extremely happy with the emotional quotient we were able to bring to the story. Especially Vidyut, he had never done something like this and I am glad that the film came across as a love story at the end of the day. 

Also read: Actor Rithvik Dhanjani's fashion tips for men: It's time to experiment with your wardrobe

What inspired you to make 377 Abnormal?

377 chronicles the journey of some of the petitioners from the LGBTQA community who challenged the court to abolish this law and decriminalise homosexuality. What intrigued me was how brave these people were. We know our systems. Iss desh mein law abolish karwana koi asaan baat nahi hai. I was really like ‘who are these people’ who got a law abolished. 

That’s when the story really opened for me. It actually started in 2001 when this petition was first filed. The film is beautiful — It’s a multi-plot narrative where you see different people across time and places fighting for the same thing. There were hundreds and thousands of petitioners, each fighting in different courts. It’s a very interesting journey of how they petitioned the court, their personal identity and how the court battle unravels.  

Also read: Actor Vivek Dahiya: Carpe diem! Make your current moment count

faruk kabir delhi metro “My go-to look on a busy day would be pretty similar to this one,” says Faruk. While his casual suit means business, the shirt says party. Faruk also boasts about layering as a concept and the smart satchel — perfect for documents, laptop and everything else one would need (Shirt and trouser, Zara; Jacket, Prada; Bag, Armani Exchange; Shoes, Onitsuka Tiger)
faruk kabir metro compartment

What’s your relationship like with fashion?

Fashion is truly an extension of your personality, it is a form of self-expression. What you wear goes so much deeper than what it looks like. It has a deeper impact on your mind, the way you feel, and the way you go about your day. For the longest time, I used to dress down for meetings. I was afraid I would not be taken seriously if my ensemble drew too much attention. There are still a lot of stigmas attached to fashion, even though it’s such a simple expression.

QUICK FIRE WITH FARUK KABIR

A film everyone should see in India: Do Aankhen Barah Haath by V Shantaram

A film everyone should see globally: Life is Beautiful by Roberto Benigni

faruk kabir projector room “This is me in my natural habitat,” says Faruk. Shot in an old theatre in Mumbai with all its balconies and stalls intact, Faruk explains how he wanted to bring the old world movie charm to these shots. His ensembles are understated with the exception of his preeminent sneakers (Shirt, jacket and trouser, Armani; Shoes, Boss)
faruk kabir theatre

A film that made an impact on you: Mel Gibson’s Braveheart

Who do you look up to for fashion cues: Tom Ford or BTS. I love Korean street style and how cool BTS is off-stage

Actors you’d like to work with: Shah Rukh Khan, Alia Bhatt, Deepika Padukone, Ranveer Singh

Also read: Sunny Hinduja's fashion tips for men: Colours and prints can add magic to a man's wardrobe

What are you currently reading: Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind. It’s about the birth and evolution of humankind, very enlightening 

faruk kabir sofa in river Sitting amidst the fisherman (at this secret spot of Faruk’s), he ponders over the beauty of the city. The look is perfect for the day at the beach. The printed shirt adds just the right amount of flavour to the ensemble while keeping it subtle (Printed shirt, Yavi; Trousers, Replay)

Your favourite book: Muhammad Ali’s biography called The Greatest: My Own Story

Best travel memory: The Mevlâna Museum in Konya, Turkey where the poet Muhammad Rumi was born. That was a very spiritual experience for me

faruk kabir barber shop The idea behind these street-style savvy looks set across the old parts of Bombay was to showcase the forgotten charms of the city: from local ‘hajjam’ shops to the lanes of the Maximum City. “It’s interesting how laddish the photos look even with such feminine colours in play,” says Faruk, adding that he never shies away from feminine colours like pink or lavender. “In fact, I prefer them for their subtlety in comparison to their stronger counterparts,” he says (Shirt, Armani; Jacket and trousers, Jack & Jones)
faruk kabir salon

Best memory while shooting: Has to be Khuda Haafiz in Uzbekistan! No films had been shot over there before

Hair & make-up: Janak Thapa 

Managed by: Vivek Madlani

Artist reputation management: Raindrop Media

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