Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Imran Khan

 “I’m not good at competing with other people”

By Ankita R Kanabar

I waited for him patiently, as he continued to get into the shoes of his character Aslam, every now and then, while he spoke to several news channels about his latest film. He stood there, with no sign of fatigue, or boredom, as he continued to field all the questions, even few awkwardly funny questions, with a smile; clad in a crisp white shirt, and blue pants. I realised then, as to why girls seem upset about him being married. Just as I finally began my interview with him, as we travelled to his film’s screening in his car, I told him, he was kind of intimidating. He shockingly responded, “I beg your pardon?” Obviously, nobody must have told him that earlier, but what I meant was, it’s his intellectual side which is slightly intimidating. Enroute, we get chatting, we speak about films and films. And then, we speak about other things that come along with films. Here we have, Imran Khan, in a freewheeling chat!

 How has the journey on ‘Once Upon Ay Time In Mumbai Dobaara’ been? 
It’s been very fulfilling specifically as a professional because see on a personal level, sometimes you enjoy working on a film, sometimes you don’t, but, it’s not as common to really enjoy the work, to do something that excites you, which makes you feel like you want to do more, and you want to do better.

This year you had a film like ‘Matru Ki Bijlee Ka Mandola’, and now ‘OUATIMD’. Has it been a conscious decision to move away from what you’ve done?
More than me wanting to do something, funny enough is it’s because of other people, because nobody offered me anything like this before. I’ve spent my career so far basically working with first time directors. Of all the films that I’ve done, majority of them are with guys who’re making their first film, they were smaller, simpler stories, more personal and urban stories, so that’s what I was offered, that’s what I chose, and that’s what I did. I think a part of it is, Vishal offering me ‘Matru...’ opened up avenues for me, people started offering me films that I wasn’t offered before. So, it’s less about my taste or my intension, it’s more about what I have been offered.

But what’s your taste and what are your intentions?
I never intended to do anything. I never intended to be an actor. I wanted to become a director. I went to film school, I trained as a writer, I trained as a director, as a cinematographer, never did a day of acting. I literally stumbled into it. I went to meet Abbas Tyrewala as an AD, that’s what I was doing at that time, I was looking for work as an assistant director, and then he said you should act in my film.

So when was it that you finally thought you wanted to be an actor?
When I agreed to do ‘Jaane Tu…’ I was quite thinking of it as a one-off. I thought I’ll just do one film, and then get back to doing what I actually want to do. Somewhere in the middle of it, I started to enjoy it, I started to get other offers, and then it became about a challenge, about let’s see what I can do. I’ve always been a kind of person who, likes to challenge himself. I want to see how well I can push my capabilities. I never played any of the normal sports in school, never played cricket, or football, I used to play pool, I would skate, I would scuba-dive and all. So, basically I played solo -sports. I just get caught up in my own game, and I’m not good at competing with other people. For me, it’s like, this is what I’m capable of, so how can I do more? This is how fast I can run, how can I run faster? So, it became about that for me.

How easy or difficult it is for you to escape a character and move to the next? Do they sometimes overlap?
Sometimes traits of one character do tend to leak a little bit into another character, it has happened. I can speak for myself, that the way that you create a character, it’s like little elements, you put on pieces of armour, clothing, whatever constitutes a character. There are all these pieces that you put on. You finish a film and you take them off, but you never quite discard them. So, you’re always roaming around with a backpack which has pieces of these characters in them. If at any point, you need any of those pieces you can put them back on, but sometimes, you forget to remove some piece of that character, and then you realise that and rectify it. This is the best way I can describe it to you. But, ultimately all your characters are floating around somewhere with you.

Does it take time for you to get into the skin of a character?
I’m not spontaneous. I need to plan, I need to rehearse, I need to know what I’m doing, why I’m doing it. I’m not a spontaneous person in my life, nothing at all. So, for me it is vital to have everything before-hand. I will read the script a dozen of times, I will find the things that I can use, but from action to cut, weirdly I’m spontaneous. There are many actors who time their breaths, and their pauses. It’s not at all important to be spontaneous, it’s important to appear spontaneous. There’s a Japanese saying for this, “You do a 100 rehearsals and a 100 takes, but what the audience will see is that one take, and that’s the important one.” So, for me to get to that point where I can do something spontaneous, I have to prepare. If you’re working with a good actor, it gets easier. So much of my performance is dependent on my co-star. I feed of what they’re doing.

Your journey so far has seen quite a few ups and downs…how do you look at it?
I tend not to take success or failure seriously. It really is a part of life, and so much of it is out of your hands, so it’s just about accepting it and moving forward. You need to learn from your mistakes. Particularly as an actor, I don’t think there’s much in my hands. The film is made by someone else, it’s promoted by another guy, released by a third guy. All that I have in my hands, is the work between action and cut, that I can control, that part I take seriously, that I look at, analyse where have I gone wrong, and I try and turn my weaknesses into strengths. When a film doesn’t do well, it makes you upset but you have to be able to distinguish and say that it’s not entirely my failure; if people haven’t liked my work, that’s my failure. This is the way I look at it.

 So, how do you react to failures?
I have a very philosophical outlook on these things. Good times come and go, bad times come and go, and it’s all transitional. So, you have to kind of pull what happiness, joy and satisfaction you can, out of it, whatever that may be. We get caught up, we have blinders and look at a very small picture. Then you look up and say, I’m a guy who was never supposed to be an actor, suddenly I’m here working with people I respect and like, I have a life of plenty of happiness with family, my wife, my friends. I’m a person who’s got more than I ever hoped for, and more than most people will ever get in their life, so how can I complain?

What is it that you look for when you’re offered a script?
For me, it’s really as simple as whether I would want to watch the film myself. Obviously, when you read something you’re having a vision of it in your head. I ask myself, would I watch this film? In our business, you never know what’s going to work. Obviously, nobody sets out to make a flop. Everyone wants to make blockbuster films, but why do we fall short sometimes, is because you can’t really predict what the audience would be interested in. All you can go by is, your taste and your heart.

When did stardom sink in for you? And do you believe that stardom has its own price to pay?
It’s an ongoing process, if I’m completely honest. There are still moments where I feel maybe I’ll go somewhere and I won’t get recognised. So, it’s still ongoing. The issue that concerns me is that somewhere with celebrity culture, you tend to lose human rights. For instance, if a man tried to get a picture up a girl’s skirt, to try and get a picture of her underwear, he’d be beaten on the street and sent to jail, unless, that girl happened to be an actress. Then the public apparently has a right to know about her underwear. So, the same newspaper who’ll show how this dirty molester was caught trying to grope a girl on the front page, will post a photograph of a heroine’s underwear when she was sitting at an event, and they managed to get a shot of her skirt. So, now because she’s an actress, is it that she’s no longer a woman, and we should no longer respect her and protect her the way we protect anyone else? That part I don’t understand.

While you’re a part of the industry, you still kind of stay aloof from certain things, don’t you?
I don’t want people to know everything about me. I don’t feel that they need to. The more people know about me, it becomes a hindrance, the more baggage they’re carrying into a theatre about me, the more it’s affecting their judgement of my work. I speak in public for two reasons : one is that I have to, to promote my films, and secondly, sometimes there are some things that I feel very strongly about, and I’m in a position to influence certain decisions, debates, so I feel I would want to lend my voice to certain discussions. Apart from that, I never speak on what I consider to be trivial matters. There are always talks about who went on a holiday and what they did. There are always photographs of certain actors exiting restaurants? So, how does the media know that an actor is visiting a restaurant? Do they stand outside a restaurant, hoping some actor will turn up? No, they’re told to go there right? Somehow, nobody turns up outside the restaurants I go to.

Would it be right to say that you’re reserved?
Yes, very much. I’m very reserved. I’m not easy to get to make friends with or to like or get along with, it takes work. It takes work to get to know me, to like me, and to breakthrough all of that, and frankly I’m quite happy about that.

Do we see you direct someday?
Of course I’d like to direct a film someday. That’s why I got into the business, that’s what I’ve trained for. For now, I’m genuinely enjoying acting. I never thought I’d do it, but I find myself at a place where I’m really enjoying what I’m doing. I’m having new experiences, the kind of things I wouldn’t have done otherwise. All of these things go towards your growth as a person and as a creative person. I’m getting to work with so many directors and you get to learn something from each one of them, so I always think about what I can imbibe from them.

You were appreciated with your debut film itself…since then has it been a struggle to keep performing better?
That’s inherent to any creative person. You always want more, you always want to do better, and move forward. And that desire, it never goes away, ideally. For some people, it goes away and it shows with their work. The reality of our business is that it’s always going to be self-driven and self-motivated, because, people are always willing to embrace and celebrate mediocrity. Because someone is famous, we’ll say very good and well done, even when someone is not doing good work. So, unless you choose to grow, you choose to move forward, you won’t grow.

Do you take criticism seriously?
I treat any kind criticism in the same way. Just because one person’s opinion can be printed on paper, doesn’t mean that opinion is more valuable than any other person’s opinion. We tend to forget that part. Whatever any critic has to say, or whatever a fan has to say, I weigh that opinion equally. You say I’m good, I’ll say okay, you say I’m bad, I’ll say okay, and then I take the average. I see what is of value and move forward from there.

Lastly, what next do we have from you post ‘OUATIMD’?
As of now, there’s just Punit Malhotra’s ‘Gori Tere Pyaar Mein’. A few other projects are being worked out, but nothing concrete for now. 

No comments:

Post a Comment