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“It’s Best To be Honest…”

As the young actor gears up for his next release, Gori Tere Pyaar Mein, Imran Khan talks to Vajir Singh about keeping his private life private, an in-your-face media and career choices

Lately, you’ve been in the news for all the wrong reasons.

All the wrong reasons? Why do you say that?

The tussle between you and the producers of your last release.

(Cuts in) Achcha aisa… Ab kya karein yaar, one tries to maintain one’s dignity as best as one can.

But don’t you think it affects an actor’s image?

What specifically do you think will affect an actor’s image?

The audience looks up to actors as their idols.

More than my image, I am interested in maintaining my dignity. At the end of the day, I have to look into the mirror and be comfortable with what I see. I have the highest standards of morality for myself. I don’t do things I cannot live with. There are things other people are able to live with but that I cannot. For me, it’s how I conduct myself in a way that my parents will be proud of me.

Do you think the young generation is different from actors of yesteryear because today’s youngsters are very open about their feelings?

Well, I think you have to be. The proliferation of the media… you have to be open or else it will get out. There was a time when the media was practically non-existent in films and you had one or two film magazines only. It was very easy for you to live a life of secrecy. Whether it was a fight or an affair… it was easier to keep things under wraps.

Today, every time you walk around the corner, there are photographers. Now there are more newspapers, websites, magazines and TV stations covering our film industry. Since the news is going to get out, it is best to be honest. I have decided to be honest.

Don’t you think the growth in the media is a good thing?

(Pauses) I do not think so. I believe a major side effect of it is the importance we now give to celebrity culture. We have reached a point where there is so much information available that we have begun to analyse people’s underwear and shoes! This is not news but the media waiting for ‘exclusives’.

It’s been almost six years since you made your debut. What kind of changes have you observed in the industry, from the audience, from the media?

I have always been rather low key, and journalists really don’t know what to make of me. They actually meet me and, after 10-15 minutes, they say, ‘Achcha, you’re like this? I had a completely different opinion of you.’

Unless, I am promoting a film, I don’t know what to talk about. My life is simple and I don’t have anything to talk about. So there is very little information out there about me, less speculation about me.

And what about the film trade?

Industry people as well. I don’t do a lot of partying or networking and socialising like many other people do. As a result, nobody really knows me at the personal level.

As an actor, do you think that is good or bad?

The more people know about you as a person, the more it burdens them. So when they are watching a film of yours, they think of you as someone who is having an affair with someone or who’s having a fight or fought with his girlfriend as reported in the media. All these things are distracting when watching a film. All this baggage is not relevant.

Looking at your career graph… You started with Jaane Tu… Ya Jaane Naa, a romantic film, then you tried the action genre and then returned to the romantic genre. After that, you did Delhi Belly, then Matru Ki Bijlee Ka Mandola, then Once Upon Ay Time… Now, you’re back with Gori Tere Pyaar Mein. Are you deliberately attempting different genres?

When you’re working on a film, you spend six to seven months in one zone. Then you think, ‘Yaar, ab kuch aur karna hain.’ So when I signed Matru Ki Bijlee Ka Mandola, I had done only a couple of fun films and was in the mood to do something very different. And when I went into Matru…, Once Upon Ay Time In Mumbaai came along, and when I was working on this film, Gori Tere Pyaar Mein popped up.

So in Matru…, I spent a lot of time looking rustic. Then Once Upon… was a dramatic action film and I felt it would be nice to do something different. You’re always creatively making choices based on what you feel. It could also happen that something you felt was exciting may not seem like that six months down the line.

Kareena Kapoor and you acted in Ek Main Aur Ekk Tu and the story demanded that jodi. Why do you think Punit Malhotra repeated both of you in his second film, Gori Tere Pyaar Mein?

Well, she is one hell of an actor. I also feel she and I make a very good pair on-screen. There is something about her style of working and mine that seems to complement each other very nicely. Her energy and my energy are in sync. All the scenes I have done with her, whether in Ek Main… or this film feel really good. It’s like playing tennis and you get a good volley; I hit back and she hits back; I hit back and she hits back. It is all in sync. Perhaps that’s why Punit decided to repeat us in his second outing.

It is interesting that both of you are fighting in the trailers of Ek Main Aur Ekk Tu and again in Gori Tere Pyaar Mein. Is that the reason Punit decided to pair the two of you again, because you look good when you are at loggerheads?

(Laughs) Again, I think it is the energy she and I have between us as actors. I also had a very good working relationship with Punit on I Hate Luv Storys. He and I too sync very well.

You have worked with Karan Johar, Punit and Kareena before. Now all four of you are working together once again. Is it a good idea or a bad idea to work with people you have already worked with?

(Smiles) When you sign a film, you tend to believe the film will become a hit, or else why would you sign it? We need to stop thinking about the fate of a film because things often work out differently than expected. Having said that, after working on a project for so many months, the least I can do is make sure I am working with people who like me and who I like. Regardless of whether the film is a hit or a flop; why spend all those months with people I don’t like? I might as well spend them with people I enjoy working with.

Rewinding a little… What do you think went wrong with Matru Ki Bijlee Ka Mandola?

Matru was a very ‘out there’ film. Vishal (Bhardwaj) is always pushing the boundaries. On one hand, you’re in this grungy, grippy, realistic space and on the other; you’re in a fanciful space where you’re setting up this buffalo which only Pankaj Kapur can see. You either love it or hate it. Some people loved it, some people hated it.

Personally, I was very happy with my work. I did stuff I didn’t think I was capable of. A guy who lived his entire life in the US suddenly plays a Haryanvi and I managed to pull it off.

Although you worked so hard, the film didn’t do well. After all these years, does the failure still dishearten you?

Failure of a film is always disappointing. But you can’t take failure all that seriously. I am the third-generation film family and I have seen a lot. You look at the biggest stars; you tally their hits and misses. Besides Aamir’s (Khan), most actors have more flops than hits. That’s part of the game yaar. If you’re getting into the movies, get ready for that.

Coming back to Gori Tere Pyaar Mein… whenever you’ve attempted a light-hearted film with comic punches, it has always worked at the ticket counter. Do you think the genre of Gori Tere Pyaar Mein is its USP?

Gori… is very funny. It’s a very Punit’s brand of humour which he does very well. He knows me very well; he understands that space very well. And, personally, I enjoy comedy. There is also the fact that comedy is much more palatable. Serious films demand a lot more attention and involvement from the audience. Comedy is a very easily likeable genre.

Imran, it’s been six years and you have done only 12 films. Have you decided to do only two films a year?

I am not good at multi-tasking. When I am working on one film, I am not able to concentrate on something else. I work at the pace that is comfortable for me.

What should we expect from Gori Tere Pyaar Mein?

On one hand, Punit has always had a strong sense of how to have fun; he is inherently a very fun guy. But what really impressed me with Gori… is how much he has matured just as a creative person, as a filmmaker. His control over a film has improved a lot.

Are you saying that Gori Tere Pyaar Mein is an acid test for Punit Malhotra?

(Laughs) Punit always puts a part of himself in the character. Jay in I Hate Luv Storys and Sriram in Gori Tere Pyaar Mein… there is a lot of Punit in these characters and it becomes a lot easier for me or for any actor who works with Punit. If you understand Punit, you understand the character a lot better.

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