Imran Khan started off his with a bang in Bollywood – impressing one and all with his debut film, Jaane Tu Yaa Jaane Na. But it was followed by a string of flops and it saw Imran lose his top billing position to other actors. Back in the reckoning after a gap of two years, Imran Khan is gung-ho about ‘Katti Batti’ hitting a bullseye at the box office. In a candid conversation with Indian Express, Imran Khan opens up about his flops, his katti batti relation with wife Avantika and the greatest joy of his life, his daughter Imaara. Excerpts from the interview.
Ques: You were not kicked up about doing ‘Katti Batti’ initially, we hear. Is that true?
Imran: Oh yes! I gave a lot of trouble to Nikhil (Advani) that way. When I first read the script, I didn’t like it at all. I told Nikhil the same and he asked me to give him time for a narration. I was like, ‘what difference would it make’. But Nikhil was adamant and chased me. He used to call me to fix a time but I would make try to avoid saying I am busy. He waited for a month and called me but still I avoided. He tried everything from calling to messaging. Finally, I thought may be he is not getting the hint that he should move on to someone else. So, finally I couldn’t avoid him any longer and we ended up meeting for a narration. And while he was narrating, I realised the impact that the story impacted me differently. I realised the way he treats his scripts. When he narrated how the characters will come out as living, breathing ones and the fights that happen in the film between them I could relate it to the exact things that have happened between me and Avantika(wife). That dialogue of Kangana where she says why can’t you aim it correctly while peeing has happened with me too with Avantika telling me the same. That is what started to pull me in and I ended up saying yes to the film.
Ques: Your last few movies didn’t do well at the box-office. You feel ‘Katti Batti’ could be the game-changer?
Imran: I don’t know if this will be a game-changer. All I know is that when I have worked with honesty and looked at a film and been genuinely happy in my heart about it, that film has done well and got what it deserves. I have never been surprised by a flop. When I see a film, I can tell if it work or not.
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Ques: But every actor before the release of his movie says it’s a good movie. It’s only after it releases and flops that it becomes a bad movie. Isn’t the same true in your case as well?
Imran: I have not been shown my own films many a times. On numerous occasions, I have been shown my film only on Thursday night, a day before its release. While watching those movies, I used to think had I known this is how it would have looked, I would have gone off to London or some other place rather than doing these movies. I would have certainly left it.
Ques: So, what went wrong with your choices?
Imran: I don’t think my choices were wrong. If you go back by two years, you will note that everyone was celebrating my choices. People were saying that Imran is making very smart choices. He is doing one film with Vishal Bharadwaj, one with Milan Lutharia, director of ‘The Dirty Picture’ who is now helming a superhit blockbuster franchise. But what happened? Nothing. The choices I think were very intelligent ones. We went wrong in the making of the film which often happens. You sign on with the best of intentions to make the best possible film you can and a series of mistakes happen. By the time you finish doing it and take a look, you realise this is not what we was originally intended. We started off with a right road map but now we have trailed elsewhere.
Ques: Any lessons you have learnt from your flops?
Imran: Yes. The lesson is listen to your heart. Many times when I am asked to do something (acting wise) on sets, it has occurred to me that something is seeming wrong. This is a mistake. But the director happened to be a big one and you end up thinking may be he knows something that you don’t know. Or sometimes when I used to raise a question, I was told, ‘Don’t worry. I (director) will take care if it.’ So my learning is that when I felt something going wrong, I need to trust my guts.
Ques: So, what does you gut feeling suggest this time?
Imran: The gut feeling is that I know I have made a film that I am proud of which is not something I can say of every film that I have done till now. It is not something that I have had a chance to say very often in my career. What I do know is I am very proud of this film and my work in the film. This is one of the rare films that I can hold in front of the world.
Ques: Buzz now suggests that you are trying to cash in on Kangana’s popularity. Does that make you feel bad?
Imran: It doesn’t make me feel bad. You can’t allow yourself to be affected by what people say. I always think about doing good work with the best of technicians and actors. That has always been my attempt. Kangana is currently hot. So, people are saying this. Had me and Kangana been working three years ago, people would have said, Kangana is riding on Imran’s success. Whether that makes her a lesser actress or me this time a lesser actor, I don’t think so.
Ques: Has there ever been a katti batti kind of a relationship between you and Avantika?
Imran: Yes and that is the nature of adult relationships. Our romantic films gloss over the ugly side of the relationship and often end up showing the happily ever after love in slow motion with sounds of violin echoing in the backdrop. The real adult relationship however is about struggle. There are ups and downs, difficulties and stress. What defines real love is what you do when the honeymoon ends. Are you still willing to standby this person when things get difficult? When it is not about fun and games anymore? When you start seeing all the flaws? Are you still in love? If the answer is yes, then that is love. That is what katti batti is all about.
Ques: How would you describe the time spent with Imaara?
Imran: It is the purest form of joy to be a father. There is nothing else more satisfying than seeing your daughter smiling, laughing or looking at you. That is the sweetest moment that exists.
Ques: What is the biggest change that has taken place in your life post her birth?
Imran: The changes are two fold. First, I have started looking at myself through her eyes. So, going forward, every decision that I make I would want her to be proud of me and I feel that I should be able to justify it to her. Other thing that has happened is that it has become easier to make choices now. Earlier, I would think and work on 100 things. Now I think, is my time away from my daughter worth it? Am I doing films that me and my daughter would be proud of? Then it is worthwhile. So, now I know in an instant whether to do something or not.
Ques: What are your forthcoming projects?
Imran: Nothing on hand right now. Discussions are on and it’s too early to talk.
Ques: Have you become picky?
Imran: More than picky, I have become honest to myself with my choices. Earlier, I have been making choices that seemed like a good career but I was not being honest to myself. But my experiences have now taught me that it is not the way to work. I need to believe very strongly in what I am doing.
Ques: Finally, tell us one film of Aamir Khan which if ever remade you would like to act in?
Imran: I am skeptical about remakes. If someone has made a film well, whatever you make, it won’t be able to achieve the original glory. When has a remake been as good as the original. If someone has made something good, let it be.
Ques: Your current film’s director, Nikhil Advani is coming with a remake, Hero. What’s your take?
Imran: That was his decision. Let’s see what happens. I am not open to remakes.