Farhan was born and brought up in Mumbai to acclaimed screenwriters Javed Akhtar, and Honey Irani. The veteran actress, Shabana Azmi, is his step-mother and the noted director, Zoya Akhtar is his sister. He completed his schooling from the Maneckji Cooper School in Mumbai and later pursued law from HR College, Mumbai. However, due to lack of attendance, Farhan was dismissed from the institution and he spent his next couple of years just watching movies.
Farhan Akhtar was briefly married to Riya Jain before marrying Adhuna Babhani in 2000. Farhan met Adhuna, a Bollywood hairstylist, on the sets of Dil Chahta Hai. The couple were in a relationship for over three years and eventually got married in 2000. However, after 16 years of marriage, they got divorced in 2016. They couple has two daughters named Akira and Shakya.
As a Director
While Farhan Akhtar is known for making a commendable directorial debut with the critically acclaimed DIl Chahta Hai (2003), his relationship with Bollywood had begun more than a decade before his directorial debut. At the age of 17, he assisted on 1991 movie Lamhe.
In 1997, Farhan assisted director Pankaj Parashar for the movie Himalay Putra, four years after which he directed Dil Chahta Hai at the age of 26. Although the movie opened to an underwhelming response at the Indian box office, it later went on to gain a cult status. Many critics appreciated Farhan’s work as writer and director, claiming it to be a ‘new wave’ in Indian cinema. The movie, centred around three urban youths of Mumbai, went on to win the National Film Award for Best Feature Film in Hindi. He carried forward his exceptional work into his next project, Lakshya (2004), starring Hrithik Roshan and Preity Zinta in lead roles. It explored the story of an aimless youngster, who finally finds his ‘calling’ in life. Much was expected from the movie, however, the film bombed at the box office; receiving contrasting reviews from critics.
Farhan’s writing skills weren’t just limited to the screenplay but he also concentrated on lyrics-writing as well. Displaying his talent of being lyricist as well, he along with his sister Zoya Akhtar, wrote English lyrics for the Hollywood movie, Bride and Prejudice (2004). In 2006, Farhan decided to work on one of the least explored styles of Indian cinema – remakes. He cast Shah Rukh Khan and Priyanka Chopra in the lead roles in movie Don – remake of the 1978 hit movie of the same name, starring Amitabh Bachchan. The movie opened to positive reviews and went on to become a blockbuster. Farhan was soon hailed as the ‘torchbearer of the remake brigade of the Indian cinema’. He later went on to direct a sequel to the movie, titled Don 2 (2011), which saw the addition of Lara Dutta to the lead cast.
As an Actor
Farhan Akhtar made his acting debut in 2008 with the movie Rock On!!, seven years after he made his directorial debut. Being a guitarist and singer, Farhan portrayed the role of the lead singer of the band Magik. The movie was declared as a smash-hit and the director-turned-actor received rave reviews from the critics for his flawless performance in the movie. However, before Rock On was released, Farhan had already completed work on the movie The Fakir of Venice (2009), a black comedy directed by Anand Surapur. The movie was initially going to be his acting debut but continued to remain unreleased up until 2017.
After the success of Rock On!!, Farhan soon completely shifted his focus on acting and went on to star in Luck By Chance (2009), Karthik Calling Karthik (2010), and Zindagi Milegi Na Dobara (2011). In all his movies, Farhan showcased his acting and writing prowess, winning the hearts of the critics and the audiences alike. He also wrote the dialogues of the Zoya Akhtar-directed Zindagi Milegi Na Dobara.
While Farhan had already impressed the audience with his acting skills, he took his efforts one step further when he prepared for Bhaag Milkha Bhaag, which was one of the most challenging roles of his career. In his preparations for the role, Farhan underwent rigorous training to get the perfect physique of an athlete. The biopic, which released in 2013 got unanimous positive reviews and it was a commercial hit. He later went on to star in movies such as Shaadi Ke Side Effects (2014), Dil Dhadakne Do (2015), and Wazir (2016). His other 2016 release includes Rock On!! 2, a sequel to the 2008 movie Rock On, directed by Shujaat Saudagar.
As a Producer
In 1999, Farhan established the production company Excel Entertainment Pvt. Ltd. along with Ritesh Sidhwani. The production house, produced its maiden movie, Don, in 2006 and has a number of commercially hit movies to its credits viz. Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara (2011), Don 2 (2011), Talaash: The Answer Lies Within (2012), Fukrey (2013), and Dil Dhadakne Do (2015).