Chhanchhan actor Farhan Khan is already a movie star!

Even before he makes his TV debut on Sony’s latest show Chhanchhan, Farhan Khan has two films ready for release. The sportsman-turned-model-turned-actor speaks to Bollywoodlife in an interview. Excerpts

Who is Farhan Khan? He is the newest addition to the potential TV heartthrob list. The model-turned-actor will be seen opposite Sanaya Irani who plays the title role in Chhanchhan, Sony Entertainment Television’s new prime time show.

Farhan is an athlete and his world revolved around sports before he took to modelling, when his dreams of making it to the Olympics came crashing down. “I belong to a small town in MP (Burhanpur) but I’ve been educated in Mumbai. I was a sportsperson and I came to Mumbai just to follow that passion. I’m one of the fastest athletes – a four-time Mumbai University record holder and also at the state level,” he says. So why couldn’t he achieve his dream? “Sports is filled with politics in our country. But I wouldn’t like to name those politicians, especially those of the Indian Olympic Association…” he drifts away.

“I cried after I left sports. Crying teaches you a lot. I became every emotional and that initiated me into theatre, which I looked upon as a medium to vent my frustration of not being able to make it to the Olympics. My dad told me that if I don’t express my feelings, I would die. So, I began working in theatre,” Farhan explains. How has that helped him? “It has had a calming effect on me. Now, if someone is angry with me, I still smile at that person. I’ve become very quiet as well.”

Belonging to a family with a film, TV and stage background helped Farhan gain a foothold in his career.”My grandfather was a distributor and film publicist and my father is a theatre artiste, a film and TV producer and a documentary filmmaker. My uncle is a producer. My brother Tabrez Khan is a director of TV shows like Bhagyavidhaata and others. My older brother and mother are both writers,” he says.

So that explains why even before he was finalised to play Chhanchhan’s love interest (the role was bounced between names such as Barun Sobti, Mohit Sehgal and Vishal Karwal), Farhan could prove that he was two steps ahead of the lot. He already has a couple of films ready for release. One is a Hindi action flick and the other is a South Indian movie produced by E Niwas and directed by Kiran from Hyderabad. “I’m doing an action film. I’m very good at action, horse-riding and Bullet (bike) stunts,” beams Farhan.

Which medium does he prefer, now that he is playing the lead on a major TV show? “Just a few days ago, I rejected a horror film to be able to concentrate on Chhanchhan,” he states proudly. “TV is a medium that reaches every household. You cannot underestimate or deny it. But hopefully my films will release too. Today, there is no difference between TV and the movies. You can work in both genres (fields). I don’t think there is any barrier. Also, I had earlier rejected a show called Kaisa Yeh Pyar Hai. I have been refusing shows over the last three years.”

As for his TV debut in Chhanchhan, his GK seems a bit weak here, as he did not know who his co-star Sanaya Irani was! When we asked him how challenging it was to work with such a big star as Sanaya, he replied, “I don’t follow TV too much. So I don’t know anybody in the industry. Honestly, I didn’t know who she was. I met her only after I was finalised for the show, and only then did I come to know that Sanaya is a huge star. I hope to enjoy working with her.”

But Sanaya being a senior in the acting department, he will learn from her, won’t he? “Learning is a process. You can even learn things from a child,” quips Farhan, leaving a whiff of rivalry in the air. (Sanaya took to this fact very well though, just like she did when a journalist asked her if Chhanchhan was her first show – she replied in a very dignified manner that she was four shows old.)

What is Farhan’s role in a seemingly female-oriented story like Chhanchhan? “Nowadays most shows have men simply standing in the frame and listening to the women talk. Ninety percent of the dialogues are delivered by women, with barely 10 percent being spoken by men. My character who is a pampered, happy guy, has 50 percent of the dialogue.”

So is he thrilled about his role in Chhanchhan? “Yes, I am. That is why I’m doing it. This is closer to my life. I like dogs but I am allergic to them in real life as well (Chhanchhan is a dog trainer on the show).”

How was it working with a seasoned actor like Supriya Pathak? “My dad’s film Shadyantra (1990) starred Supriya Pathak and Pankaj Kapur. She remembered working with dad. She plays my mother in Chhanchhan. As we are filthy rich on the show, she as a mother doesn’t want me to have middle-class friends. Sanaya’s family is a modern but middle-class family. So the show is a bit inspired from Khoobsurat (the film).”

Being really connected in the industry has helped Farhan be prepared for the grind of shooting a daily TV show. “I used to go on the sets of my father’s TV shows, and see actors hanging around whole day and working. I have seen the dedication of TV stars.”

Isn’t it hard to believe then, that Farhan doesn’t follow TV and didn’t know his co-star Sanaya existed? But with so many shows and channels these days, maybe, just maybe it’s possible. We’ll give it to Farhan this time, and hope his chemistry with Sanaya works big time!

Chhanchhan premieres on March 25 at 9pm on Sony Entertainment Television.