We take a pitstop in London with Imran Khan and discover the little known facts about this youngster. He has no qualms in talking about his relationship with Avantika, and is bit of a pessimist who thinks that he has not done justice to his role in Jaane Tu. He has a fascination for the pubs in London and despite that enthusiasm and the media buzz surrounding his big release, the young actor is not looking forward for a lavish premiere. We find out why?
I know it's too early to ask you this question but looks like the Khan brigade isn't stopping to dominate. Where do you see yourself after the release of Jaane Tu?
I honestly have no idea. As you said that I am not muscular and popular. These are part of the reasons why I never really saw myself as an actor. All this is so different for me. And even the film that we've made is pretty different from that. It's the people who will decide my future after the release of Jaane Tu. My future is out there.
It's strange where your career can take you. You've studied direction but we now see you as an actor. Why don't you pursue what you've actually studied?
A simple answer to that is, Abbas Tyrewala. I wanted to be a director. I've studied in Los Angeles. And worked there for a while. I came back to Mumbai and was meeting people to find work. And throughout all this, I met Abbas. We just really clicked from day one. I loved the script and my character and he was so convinced that I was the right guy for it that I went with it. Abbas just shifted me away from direction but that is not to say that I won't go back to direction. It's on the cards but just don't know when.
All the video interviews you've done have shown that you've been brought up in shadows of your mamu, Aamir Khan, but in films you need to break away from that shadow.
You're absolutely right. Having said that, I haven't' shot a single interview with Aamir. Of course, you have to create your own identity and that is happening in the film as it is. Aamir has no presence in the film and ultimately if people like the film, they will hopefully like me.
You've thanked your girlfriend Avantika and have felt no harm in disclosing your relationship to the media. But was that necessary?
I feel it was necessary at a personal level. To me, when there is someone who is a major part of your life, to hide that is a dishonest thing to do. Secondly, it is very disrespectful. When I've been seeing her for the past six years and then to pretend for the sake of my career that she is not my girlfriend is a very impolite thing to do to a woman.
We've seen your childhood pictures now where Aamir combs your hair and you're sitting on his lap and many more. Are you at all worried of letting him down?
No, I am not. It's not that he has certain expectations from me. He just believes that you have to find your own way. He made his own destiny and I have to do the same, not for anyone else, but for me. He's there to support me as my uncle and will always wish the best for me. But somehow down the line, I know that I want to keep his head up and mine through Jaane Tu. Tomorrow if nothing works out for me, he is not going to feel let down.
We've also seen you mention in a light-hearted way that Aamir used to use you to impress girls. Do you think he can still do it, now that now you are a handsome hunk?
Not a chance. He doesn't have hope now.
There have been quite a few college capers in the past, which haven't clicked at the box office in the UK but have worked well in India. What are Jaane Tu's chances in both the markets?
We haven't made Jaane Tu primarily for the Indian market and nor have we made the film for the overseas market. The aim is to make a film that people will like generally and when I say generally, I just don't mean the Hindi film audience. Ideally, the film should appeal to anyone because it speaks about universal emotions. It speaks about the time when you're young, you're in college, and you think that if this girl doesn't like me, my world is over. That's a universal thing. And again, once you graduate and get a bit older and a little more mature, you realize that it wasn't such a big deal. You get over it. That again is universal.
Every Aamir Khan film coming out since Lagaan has given a meaningful message. Will Jaane Tu continue along the same level?
No, not at all. Aamir has said so that not every film has to have a message. Some of them do and it's always great. But a lot of films are just entertaining films. They just tell you a nice story and that's really what Jaane Tu is all about. There is no social message to it.
The media has spoken a lot about you - Abbas, Aamir, and AR Rahman. But no one seems to see the other four college goers on the posters. They haven't got due credit I guess.
That is really the nature of publicity. Sadly, my name will carry a lot more weight despite my having as much experience as the rest of them. They are all first timers and people are just more interested in hearing about me. It's good you have pointed this thing out. But I do feel that once people see the film, they'll realize how talented the rest of them are. Abbas put a lot of care, thought and effort into casting every single one of these actors. Their characters at a screenplay level are very well-edged. They are not caricatures or junior artists.
Did Abbas do anything different with you guys in terms of preparation for your individual roles?
Abbas took all six of us and Manju, who is not in the poster, to Panchgani and we spent about a week or ten days there doing workshops. He put the boys in one room and the girls in a separate room. He told us to live together and learn to deal with one another and wanted us to come out eventually as a team. We did scene breakdowns, team-building exercises and came out of it as one unit. We were like a team, which works perfectly, and the chemistry was just remarkable.
It's not only a debut for you in Jaane Tu but a debut for you in London too. Have you been to London before? Anything you like about London? Anywhere you go for your shopping?
London has always been kind of in transit for me. I spend a day or two every time I come here. Even today as we talk, I'm flying to Dubai for the next leg of promotions world wide. I've never spent enough time here to know the places properly or go to the places where people usually go. But the one thing that attracts me to London is its beer. I do love British pubs. I love its ambience. I am not a nightclub person but I love pubs and bars. They are really chilled out, comfortable and more sociable.
Genelia is the most experienced of the lot. Any advice or tips you got from her as a senior?
Our working styles are very different. Genelia tends to approach things a lot more spontaneously. She doesn't really put that much thought into it but I do. She would learn her lines and she would do the scene as it came naturally. I'd tend to figure out things like how I'm going to sit, then get up, then take two steps back, etc. But that's what I learnt from Genelia by observing her act, by observing her moves on the sets.
What's next in the pipeline?
I've finished my second film which is called Kidnap directed by Sanjay Gadhvi. It's a suspense thriller and I'm playing a grey character. I hate saying grey character because it's so over used. It's now in the editing process and post-production. And the film is releasing on October 2. My third film, which I have just started, is called Luck directed by Soham, the one who made Kaal. It's an action adventure type of a film, which stars Shruti Hassan, Mithun Chakraborty, Danny Denzongpa and Sanjay Dutt.
Has Aamir ever approached you for a role in any of his forthcoming productions? We all know that he likes working with new comers who've got bundle of talent.
He does really look at it from a script point of view. So he'll look at what film he's producing at that time and think that if Imran fits the role well, I'll first have to audition for it. He will not think of taking me for any film just because I am his nephew.
Let's talk about the big premiere night everyone is talking about. Looking forward for the biggest day of your life?
I am not looking forward to it at all. Premieres are scary. I've got my suit made which I'll have to wear for the premiere. I mean, I've never in my life put on a suit. My stylist is Harmeet. I don't go for any designer brands. I did try it on. Looks good but I can't move after wearing it. I am a more jeans and a t-shirt kind of a guy. So I am a little apprehensive about spending the entire evening like that.
Is Shammi Kapoor also attending the premiere?
I don't think so. He is not very well. We did ask him but he said that he would not be able to make it. We will be organising a special screening for him somewhere near his house because he lives in South Mumbai and the premiere is a two-hour journey from his house and we wouldn't make him come a long way for that.
Is there anything you'd want to share with us as you're in London for the first time for your first film as an actor?
I just recalled that the tie, which I'm wearing in the song Pappu Can't Dance Saala, was purchased from London. It's a zip tie and that's what I am wearing. If you see one of my pictures in the promotions and in the small booklet inserted in the CD cover, I'm seen wearing a white shirt with a yellow striped tie. That is the same tie, which Aamir wears as the college student in Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikander. It was his tie but I have now taken it. Even the crew cut blue t-shirt I wear in the posters including the belt and the jeans are mine. They're my personal outfits, and so are the canvas shoes in the film I wear. Many of the outfits in the film are my own because Abbas didn't want any branded Dolce and Gabbana kind of outfits.
Any regrets after doing the film. Anything you'd change in your performance now that you see yourself on the television?
As a personality, I tend not to like any of the work I do. I still don't. I don't like the work I've done in the film. When I see it, I see it for the small mistakes I've made which should have been avoided. But that's my take. It's up to Abbas and Aamir to judge me at the end of the day. I'm never really going to be happy.
Being your debut film, it seems as if you're not at all excited about it?
I'm not excited at all. But that's for another reason. It's just because I'm kind of numb on this whole front. It's not that the film is bad. I do think that it's a good film. So let the film release and we'll see what excitement remains.
What is that one advice of Aamir, which still lingers in your mind as we are talking?
I will never forget his personal yet professional advice - find your own way. From choosing your director and script, learn everything the hard way. He has never read my scripts of Kidnap and Luck, nor have I approached him with it.