Farah Khan spoke to journalist Rohit Khilnani at SheThePeople.TV’s new event series, Filmistani. In a candid chat they spoke about her initial struggles to find her feet, on nepotism, and on being a female director in a male-dominated industry and how about how content is the king.

On being a woman director:

We need females in most departments of film making, she says. And the trend has begun. Since the time of ‘Main Hoon Na’, there are now four times as many female directors than there were back then, she says.

But women are not making popular movies.

“I believe that if you want to stand up to men, you need to be on the same ground. You need to make the big budget movies,” she says.

Nepotism is a human trait

“There are many who haven’t made it, and many who haven’t come from a film family, and who have made it,” she said.

By the time she was five, her father was bankrupt. When he died people stopped coming to the house. Her experiences made her look at the film industry with a different perspective. It made it a scarier place to want to be in, she says.

“Nepotism is a human trait. Your parents want to do the best for you, whether it is a doctor’s son or an engineer’s son. I would want the best for my kids,” she says. She also spoke about how the media has taken so much interest in star kids, that they also perpetuate the nepotistic culture to some extent. 

On her craft:

She started out as a choreographer. Her big break was when she joined Mansoor Khan as an assistant director. Khan told her that she would be taking over the choreography for the hit song ‘Pehla Nasha’.

The most difficult situation is when you have an artist who doesn’t want to do anything. When an actor comes with a positive attitude, it is heartening. She spoke about how Shah Rukh Khan is one actor who would never say no to anything.

We want to see something that is new and that forces us to re-evaluate.

But when someone comes in with a chip on their shoulder, the atmosphere becomes negative.

On changing trends in the film industry:

The year 2017 has been a different year for the film industry she says. People don’t want to see the same type of films anymore. And with the prevalence of the online world, and platforms like Netflix, the best production, the best acting and so on becomes available at the consumer’s fingertips. That means that the industry has to raise their standard.

“What surprised me that people go see an Anabellem as much as a Bareilly Ki Barfi. We want to see something that is new and that forces all of us to re-evaluate.”

She says that content is the biggest star.

I believe that if you want to stand up to men, you need to be on the same ground. You need to make the big budget movies.

“I have doubts on whether a masala movie with just gags will work in a big way anymore. Consumers want fresh stories,” she says. 

Never let success get to you

Farah had a frugal start in the movie industry. Her father who was part of the movie industry but had gone bankrupt when Farah was growing up. Farah recalls that she had to go from house to house to ask for money to bury her dad. “I have seen the worst of what this line can do for you. My life doesn’t revolve around politics. You need to detach and have a family life of your own- this is great job you go to. My life revolves around my kids, and my husband.”

 “Being from an impoverished film family is worse than not being from a film family,” she said.

Oh, and if you were wondering- if she had to choose between saving Hrithik Roshan or Kangana Ranaut from a drowning boat- she would choose Hrithik!

“I know him longer and he has kids,” she says.

Also Read: We still need an Amitabh Bachchan to attract people to women’s issues: Farah Khan