“The support of my fans is the only thing that matters to me at all” – Imran Khan

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Posted on July 16th, 2009 in Interviews, Stars

With just two films under his belt, Imran Khan has already made his mark in Hindi cinema. He began with the light-hearted Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na, went on to a very dark character in Kidnap, and now turns his acting skills to the out-and-out, action-packed film, Luck! The buzz about Imran started before he was even seen on the silver screen when the first picture of him was released, and it has only grown from there. From that first glimpse, his legions of loyal fans (I must admit I am one of them) have eagerly anticipated each new film and are very excited to see him in the action hero avatar. I got the chance to interview the young actor and it was an amazing conversation. He was warm and nice and gave wonderful answers to my questions. Here is Imran on all things Luck and a few more tidbits as well!

You once said that if you want to see the film when you read the script, then you will say yes to the role. What was it about this film that made you want to see it, and then be in it?

Well, see, to start off, it was a really cool concept. I liked the idea, I liked the world that Soham was setting it up in. You know the basic idea of the story right?

Yes.

So, I liked that idea, I liked the fact that they were treating luck as a commodity. I liked that they were gambling with people’s lives. I was a little nervous about the film turning out to be too dark, of it turning into some commentary on society or something like that. So I met with Soham and I was like, listen are you going to make this into a really dark film? He was like no, listen, I want to make this as a really cool slick action film. I want this to be a lot of fun. I want this to be a summer blockbuster action thriller. So I said okay fine, that I can get behind. You have a cool concept, you have a really original, out there concept, but you treat it like a commercial film.

So from your characters’ point of view, what do you think the story of the film is?

From the character’s point of view… the film actually starts with my character. He starts off in Bombay, he works in a bank, he needs a lot of money and he needs it very quickly. He is kind of desperate for it and he is willing to try anything. That is the time when Danny Denzongpa comes into his life, and Danny kind of gets him into this underground world of gambling. They start off with small simple stuff, small money, but he kind of gets a taste for it and he gets sucked in deeper and deeper until finally Danny says, do you want to get into the really big games? Stakes are higher but the money is higher. He gets into that as well and from there on out suddenly he finds himself in a place that he is literally gambling with his life, for every time he wins he gets money but if he loses once, he will die.

How did you prepare to play a role like that?

What I found really interesting about him was that he is a guy who can’t take a decision. Everything is being decided for him, it’s being decided by other people and decided by his luck. Whatever he does, it doesn’t really matter. It doesn’t matter if his intentions are good are not, it doesn’t matter what he does, ultimately luck is what is going to save him or not. I kind of came up for a metaphor for the guy. It is like he is riding a wave. The wave is going to go, he has just got to try and stand up and stay on top of the board. To me that is what I found interesting about it. He is not guiding the story. He is not taking it forward. Events are kind of unfolding around him and he is just trying to stay alive. He is just trying to stay on top of things!

Was it difficult to find that metaphor, and find who he was, to play him?

Not really, because very early on you get a few key elements of the character into place, and beyond that you literally just react instinctively, because at every stage he is thrown into something. You’ve got to find that center. You know who he is generally as a person and once you’ve got that you can drop him into anything, and whatever starts happening, you know within certain parameters how he will react.

What do you think audiences will think of you in this role?

The early word has been pretty good. We did some test screenings. I believe a lot in test screenings, I have a lot of faith in them. So we tested the film with young people, 20 somethings, and they really reacted well. They liked it a lot. I am never happy with anything I do. I am always watching it saying oh god, that is terrible, that is terrible! But they liked it well enough!

How was it working with director Soham Shah?

Soham is a good guy. Soham is a young guy so I really can kind of relate to him. I find that I tend to relate to younger directors better because we are kind of on the same wavelength. We tend to like the same sort of films, we have a very similar grammar. So as such I could relate to him a lot easier.

Do you think it makes a difference when a director also writes the story?

I think the director needs at least to have a good understanding of writing. It is okay sometimes – the director does not have to have written the script. Delhi Belly, for example, was directed by Abhinay Deo but he didn’t write the story or the script or anything. It was entirely written by someone else. Abhinay was brought on only as a director and he has not written it at all. He has directed the script that he was given but he has an understanding of writing.

How scary is it to do an action scene and to keep acting while everything is blowing up around you or is it all in a days work?

You know, it is not that scary. Funnily enough, the fact that you are acting kind of masks the fear. It sends it all away. Because you are thinking as a character, you’re thinking I need to do this or I need to get to a certain point or I need to jump off something, or I need to climb up something then fight someone to get to a certain place. You’re entirely in the scene and you’re entirely in character. So, you are not thinking of your own personal fears. Once it is done, once it is wrapped and you go home that is when the fear comes.

I bet because then you realise what you have just done. Plus I bet you have a lot of technical things you have to think of, like exactly were to step, which way to run, etc.

Yeah, you work that all well before hand. That is all carefully planned, you take a lot of safety measures. And I really try to do it as few times as possible.

What is your favorite action scene in this film?

It is easily got to be the climax. The climax has to be the biggest in an action film. With each action sequence you need to take it one level higher. That is what we have done. Starting from first, second, third, and finally to the fourth action sequence which is the climax. It starts with me hanging out of a plane …

Oh, my gosh!

You actually see a glimpse of that in the promo. So I am actually hanging out of the plane as it flies over a train. I jump out of the plane onto the train, the plane then crash lands on top of the train, and sets it on fire. While the train is moving I’ve got to run through the fire with the explosions and stuff, fight off a bunch of bad guys, and stop the train. That was huge! That took us about 10-12 days to shoot.

I guess you do each section separately?

Yeah, we spent about two days just doing the plane stuff. I spent two days hanging outside the plane as it is dive bombing the train. Then you do a bunch of days shooting the fights. Then you spend a couple of days doing the fire stunts and the explosions.

Is it fun?

It is actually quite a bit fun, but then after six or seven days everything starts to catch up with you and everything hurts a lot.

How do you like the soundtrack for the film?

The soundtrack is pretty good. Honestly, it never started out as a film with songs, and even right now the songs don’t really come in the film. Sanju’s Aazma track comes in the beginning of the film over the titles. The Jee Le comes in over the end credits and Khudaya Ve just plays as sort of a background montage track. The song is there in the film but kind of as a montage, not a lip synch song.

You look great dancing in ‘Jee Lee’, and the public’s response to it has been awesome. Did you enjoy doing that song?

I did finally. I was really nervous – I was really apprehensive about it. I was sitting there one day and I was thinking, oh god, I’ve got to do this crap, I’ve got to dance with these foreign girls, these scantily clad women behind me. What am I doing? How did I get into this? You can’t do it by half measure. If you are doing it, you have got to go all out and you have to really, really sell it. So I said okay, fine, if I am doing it I am going to make sure it is the best it possibly can be, so I spent a lot time rehearsing and when we got out there I was like, okay, fine, let’s just go for it.

So tell us about working with the cast. What was the experience like, what did you learn from Sanjay?

I don’t have a lot of work with Sanju. Sanju has kind of an extended guest appearance in the film. He is kind of the guy who is running the whole game so he spends a lot of the time watching the games on monitors and stuff and kind of orchestrating the whole thing, so I did not have a lot of scenes with him. The majority of my scenes, actually, the most work I had to do with Danny, because right in the beginning when my character is in Bombay, Danny is the guy who gets him into this world.

So how was it working with him?

He was great. He is a class act. You know he is 65 years old and he is fit. He is like a horse. You would not believe how strong this guy is. We would work out in the gym together and I swear to god he is lifting more weight than me. He is definitely stronger than me, he definitely stronger than of the young action heroes today.

Did you learn anything or take anything away from working with him?

The coolest thing about him is . . . , well if you have ever seen a script, it is always printed only on the right hand side, they print on only one side of the page. So when you open it up the right side is printed the left side is blank. On the left side, he takes a pen and he rewrites the entire script. On every single page. He writes out all the dialog, the entire screenplay in Hindi in his own handwriting. He says that is how he remembers the dialog. So beginning to end he writes the entire screenplay by himself.

Then you also worked with Shruti Hassan who you know very well, so was there a comfort level around the set because you two do know each other?

Yeah, we’ve actually known each other since we were kids so there was a tremendous comfort level, but also the downside is that sometimes you get self-conscious when you are acting with someone who’ve you know so well and suddenly you are with them in a different context. So suddenly, you are afraid that she might be able to see through me. If I am doing something safe, if I am doing something that is not honest, something that is not real, I was always afraid that she would be able to see through it. So that makes you a little uneasy.

How do you feel she did in her first film?

She surprised me, honestly. You are expecting a certain level of discomfort or something, but she was very confident. I think that comes from that fact that she has done so much stage stuff. You know she has a band. She has performed on stage so much so she is a very very confident person. So, I think that somehow translated to her performance in the film as well. She was totally at ease.

You were talking about being honest. Is it hard to let yourself go and just be in the moment of whatever scene you are in?

The thing here is that it is hard to be honest, but to be honest you have to let go. You know what I am saying. Your tendency would be to hold on and say, no, I wouldn’t do that. I wouldn’t say it like this, I wouldn’t behave like this, but then by doing that you are not being honest with the character. So, to be completely honest you have to let go. You have to say okay, fine, I am putting me aside, I am putting Imran away and I have to behave in whatever way that this character would. That’s hard, you have to get past yourself. You always have the tendency to say, I wouldn’t do that, I wouldn’t do that but it is not you, it is the character.

I once asked you in an online chat what the hardest thing about being an actor is. Would you still answer the same way now that you have more films under your belt?

What did I say last time?

You said it was fun lighthearted scenes, and wearing makeup.

Ah, yes, the makeup I remember that. Was it a chat? I think it was a post. Is that right?

Um, I think…

No, wait, was it the Buzz 18 chat?

Yes, that was it!

See, I have a very good memory for these things!

You have a very good memory, I am very impressed! [laughs] So, do you think it is still the lighthearted scenes?

No, you know, I have actually opened up a lot on that, and it is funny because it happened, I think, through the process of doing Luck. Through the process of doing a serious gritty action film, I got more comfortable doing the lighter stuff. I think it is just because I got so sick of doing action and pushing myself that I really want to do something fun.

What does the support of your fans mean to you?

Honestly it is the only thing that matters to me at all. I don’t really care about winning an award. I don’t really care about earning a lot of money. I intend to do films just because I believe in them. Really, at the end of the day what I can carry home is the fact that someone supports me and someone believes in me. If I am making a film, and I don’t earn any money and it does not win any awards, but if someone comes up to me and says hey, I love that film, that is the only thing that matters to me! That is really as good as it gets!

Imran certainly is as good as it gets! With each new performance he proves that he has the acting skills as well as the true dedication to make each role his own and play it to the best of his ability. We applaud him for his performances to date, wish him lots of luck with Luck, and know that we will be applauding him well into the future! Interviewing him was a wonderful experience and I wish him all the best now and always! We here at BollySpice can’t wait to see Luck and all his films to come!

Luck’s action packed thrill ride storms into theaters worldwide on July 24th! Be sure to check it out!

Kuch Toh Bolo!

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