He wowed us in Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na, and with each successive performance, Imran Khan has escalated his skill as an actor. His last release I Hate Luv Storys was a hit, and his performance was given fabulous reviews by critics and fans. Next up for the young actor is Break Ke Baad, directed by Danish Aslam and co-starring Deepika Padukone. In this film, he is the die-hard romantic instead of the guy who does not believe in love, and Imran says he loved playing that aspect of the character. Imran was in London on a whirlwind promotional tour for Break Ke Baad and we got the chance to chat again. In a wonderful talk that lasted quite awhile, Imran revealed why he turned down Break Ke Baad at first, and then went on to chat about the cool music and lyrics, and why this character and film means so much to him.
Danish told me you originally said no to the project…tell me about that and then what changed for you.
Yes, that’s right. Originally when I read the script, I liked the first half, but not the second half. I was not inclined to get into developments or working on a story. I told him look your first half is good, but your second half is not working at all. So, I can’t do the film. I passed on it and I signed I Hate Luv Storys instead. It was kind of a choice between the two and I went with I Hate Luv Storys. I was shooting for I Hate Luv Storys, and it’s funny, I actually remember which part we were shooting. Remember the office I was working in, in the film? We had built that one set and there was about 10 days of work on that one set. We were shooting in that location at that time and I had gone to my friend Vir Das’ house for a Christmas party. During the party I bumped in Danish…Vir and Danish are also good friends, and somehow Danish and I got chatting that evening and we didn’t really talk to anyone else. We just talked about movies, books, TV shows, music, just everything and I just felt like I had so much in common with this guy. We really hit it off and became friends over the course of that party. The next morning he messaged me and said, ‘Listen I’ve been working on the script. I’ve really changed it around quite a bit. I would like you to read it again’. So I said, ‘Yeah sure. I’d be happy to’. I took the script from him, read it again and this time the second half was just flowing beautifully. It had fallen into place and was great. I called him up that evening and said, ‘Listen, I’m on. I love it!’
This story is different because he is the romantic and she is the less committed one. What did you like about that aspect of the character?
I love this character. To me, he’s the classic romantic hero and that’s what I like about him. He’s a guy who’s in love with this girl and feels that there is absolutely no one else. No matter what happens he will go to the ends of the earth for this girl. I love that, like I said, he is the classic romantic hero.
What kind of character arc does Abhay (Imran’s character in the film) go through?
Abhay initially is a guy who is not very ambitious. He does not know what he wants to do in life and he’s okay with that. He doesn’t really have a job. He doesn’t know where he’s going. All he knows is that he is in love with this girl and that’s enough for him.
Deepika’s character is a very ambitious person. She wants to do a lot in life. She wants to learn. She wants to achieve. She wants to travel. She wants to experience things. I think that’s the beginning of the split between them. The split happens when she travels to Australia and she starts having these great new experiences, meeting new people, doing new stuff, and she feels that she wants to leave that old part of her life behind. While reading it [the script], I could feel everything that he was going through. I understood it. You know, the trailer that starts with us sitting under the table and I say, ‘It is not a job you are taking casually. Are you breaking up with me?’ That is the trailer, which I think really represents the film very well.
How was it working with Deepika?
I think more than any other co-star of mine before, Deepika and I’ve become very close. This film is a very special film for me. I feel very emotionally about it. Again more so than any other film I’ve done before. I’ve always had good working experience; I’ve been fortunate that way. Punit and I became really good friends. I really enjoyed working with him. But this film, every person involved with it from Danish to Deepika, Danish’s wife Shruti, Yuvi and Shahana who are our co-stars in the film, Andre – our cinematographer… absolutely everyone who’s is a part of this film has become very close friend of mine.
I’ve seen the film; I think it’s a good film. It’s a film that I am proud of. This is a film that I feel very strongly about, I feel very emotionally about and it means a lot to me.
From that first script reading, did you know that this is going to be something really special – something I can really get into?
I always wanted it to be that, because even in the beginning from our few meetings I was starting to like Danish a lot. I was really liking the script. I was liking the feel of it. So, I think somewhere subconsciously right from the first day I wanted it to be special. I wanted it to be more.
Your chemistry with Deepika is certainly adorable. How did you work off each other in the happy scenes, but also in the sadder scenes, the break up scenes?
I can’t speak for Deepika, but for myself I can say that many of those scenes… the difficult scenes, the fight scenes, scenes where break ups are happening, fights are happening and there was difficulty in the relationship… I recognized most of those scenes because I’ve lived through them. I’ve been in those situations. I’ve had those fights. I’ve said those things; I’ve heard those things. So, in all those scenes I got a sense of this is real, I’ve experienced this, I’ve lived through this, I know it very well. So, very often it was kind of striking cords with me that there’s something real here.
That must be really cool to be on a set and have that moment happen.
It’s great! I’ve loved working with Deepika, because she is an actor who you can really bounce off and who bounces off you. She would react in real time to what you are doing. I’ve worked with people before who’ve had their graph set and they don’t change it if you change. They do the same thing regardless. So, you are not getting anything new from them. Whereas Deepika would always react. If I did something unexpected or something different in a take, she would take that and she would run with it and she would react. It gives you a lot.
The film explores a lot of other relationships as well?
Yes, Sharmila Tagore plays Deepika’s mother and you have my parents as well and you see the dynamics between all of us, because her mom knows about our relationship, her father is not in the picture. My parents know about her and the family is all very cool about it. You know how modern relationships are. You are not only in a relationship with the person, but you are in relationship with the whole family. You know Avantika’s mom, her dad, her brother are all part of my family. So, it’s kind of the same way.
How about Danish, what do you think he brought out in you as an actor?
There is a Hindi word which we actors use a lot is tairaav. Tairo means wait. So, tairaav mean the ability to wait, to be still and to hold a moment. If you see my work in I hate it’s very energetic, there is a lot of stuff going on. In this film, it’s a lot more quite and still. So, there are moments we would hold on silence or on a soft dialogue where you are speaking, but not really moving or jumping around and there is no background music. For us actors, it’s a big deal when you can hold something like that. When you are just being silent, not saying anything, not doing anything and just sitting there and you are still holding the moment. That is Danish’s taste and his style as a filmmaker – he likes to hold that. He’s like, ‘when you are holding a moment, hold it, live it, milk it, let it be, let it live’. It’s a scary thing as an actor, but Danish has helped me along with that.
You have worked on a range or roles and directors, looking back how do you think your journey as an actor has been?
I’ve always felt like I am an actor who takes a lot from the team. I take a lot from my director; I take a lot from my co-stars. I feel the better they are, the better I become. So I rely a lot on the people I’m working with and I’ve taken away a lot from each one of them. I honestly feel that I’ve grown more comfortable and confident with each film. Really that is attributed to being fortunate and having worked with people that I’ve learnt something from. I’m much more comfortable now than I’ve ever been before.
What did you think of the music?
The music is very innovative. I think it’s a very progressive album. It’s not your average Hindi film music album. There is track in there that’s called ‘Don’t Worry About Me’. Danish and I fought to get that on the album. It’s an English version of a Hindi song called ‘Mein Jiyoonga’, which I think is the third track on that album. They had recorded that song and Vishal and Shekhar, just for the heck of it, did an English version, but they only did the first two verses. They played it for Danish and me and both of us loved it. It had a kind of Beatles meets Jason Mraz kind of vibe and we said this has make it on the album. The music company wasn’t too big on it, because they were like who cares, why would we want an English song. The two of us pushed and pushed and pushed and pushed and we got them to hold the CD production for one day so that we could get the song there on time. So, literally on the last day Vishal wrote up the third verse, he and Shekhar recorded the song, mastered it and sent it to the record company just in time to get it on to the CD. The second verse I think has the best line, which is ‘don’t worry about me; I’ll be all right. It’s just that I haven’t slept in 64 nights, cause sleep won’t come without your arms around my soul.’ It’s such a sweet line. Every time I hear it I think wow, what a line that is!
I really like the acoustic version of Dhoop ke Makaan. It’s such a different sound, not something you classically hear.
Yeah. There is a beautiful line in that, in the second or third verse, where he says, ‘kitni unchi shaakh pe khusiyon ke pal’, which means the fruits of happiness are on such a high branch, ‘phir bhi khusboo tod li humne uchal’, but still we managed to jump up and grab it. Then the next line is, ‘kanch ka saaman tha aur gir gaye hum’, the goods, the stuff that I was carrying was made of glass and I fell down. That is a very sad line… ‘kanch ka saamaan…’, because that’s referring to their relationship. He’s kind of blaming himself. Very early on in the film she’s drunk and just as she’s falling asleep she tells him, ‘promise me you won’t let us break up…ever!’ and he says, ‘I promise’. When they do break up that line comes where he says, ‘I was carrying goods made of glass and I fell down’ He is blaming himself for that. That line I love.
There are no lip synch songs, so before they added Dooriyan, did you think ooh, I don’t have to dance on this one? Then…
Yeah, that one came in as kind of an afterthought. I actually had a lot of fun with it because I was in favor of adding that track. Initially, there was never supposed to be that song and there was never going to be a lip sync song. To a certain extent I have this old school filmi thought where I believe in the classic elements of Bollywood films. I like lip-sync songs. I think they add a lot and I think it does a lot for the audience, because it does a lot for the audience. The audience likes to see heroes and heroines singing. It came up in discussion whether should we add this song. I said, I’m in favor of the song and I think we should definitely do it. I loved the track and the video should come out really nicely as well.
You know as you were saying about lip sync songs, to me it is something that defines Bollywood.
Yes. There is a trend now where people are starting to do background songs and not doing lip-sync songs and it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to me.
What was the hardest scene to do in this film?
There weren’t any really tough scenes. There is one slightly tricky scene to do. In that promo where we are sitting under the table and we are talking, towards the end of the scene there is one line, which I couldn’t say with a straight face. I thought was a really filmi line. She says, I think we need some space. We need some space to find ourselves.’ And my line is, ‘kahi apne aapko doonte doonte ek doosare ko naa khode’, which means if we take this time to look for ourselves I hope we don’t lose each other. But it sounded like a very filmi line and every time I would try to say it I would crack up. I said to Danish, this is such a dramatic filmi line; I can’t say it with a straight face. Danish said you will say it and you will say it with a straight face. In every take I would crack up. I finally powered my way through it. Danish still makes fun of me for that one.
What do think that audiences are going to love about the film?
I think people will walk out of the film feeling really good about love and romance. At its heart the film is a love story and it’s celebrating the idea of being in love, the concept of love, the concept of being in a relationship with someone. I think people in a relationship should walk out treasuring their relationship even more and saying I’m glad I’m in this. People who are single, will walk out saying I want to find someone like this. Girls will say I want a guy to love me the way this guy loves her. Guys will say I want to find a girl who I can love like this. That’s what I took away from it.
Hardest thing about being an actor?
What is the hardest thing…? It is getting easier. It is all getting easier, I think.
So, what other projects are you working on or getting ready to film?
Mere Brother Ki Dulhan – My Brother’s Bride. We just finished a schedule, we are not done shooting yet. We’ve got a fair amount of work left. I am about to start a film with Dharma with Kareena Kapoor. After Break Ke Baad releases on the 26th, I leave that night to fly to Las Vegas to begin work on that. That’s all that’s been confirmed right now. After Break Ke Baad, my next release will be Delhi Belly. We’ve just confirmed Delhi Belly for an end April release.
I have said it before and I am sure I will say it many times in the future (hint, hint Imran!); Imran Khan is one of my favorite people to interview. It always ends up more like a conversation and it is always great to talk to him! Fans are looking forward to seeing him as the classic romantic hero and we bet he is going to wow us once again! Break Ke Baad, opens on Wednesday, the 24th in the US and then on the 26th hits theaters everywhere else, so go watch it. We will see you at the movies!
Be sure and have a look at our interview with Deepika, director Danish Aslam and producer Kunal Kohli too.