Boyish charm and a manful will would make for an ideal combination for someone in an industry rife with competition. This may hold true for Bollywood’s chocolate boy Imran Khan, who, despite being written off as a ‘one-film wonder’, has been fervent in his attempt to reclaim lost ground in the industry. After a string of box-office duds following his successful debut stint in Jaane Tu ... Ya Jaane Na, he promises to bring something new to the table with Katti Batti, hitting screens on September 18. In an interview with The Express Tribune, Imran talks about his upcoming film, embracing fatherhood, and visiting Pakistan and his friends on this side of the border.
“I signed Katti Batti around the time I found out that my wife Avantika was expecting,” says Imran, who took a hiatus after his stint in the 2013 film Gori Tere Pyaar Mein, which bombed at the box office. On prioritising family life, he adds, “I didn’t want to abandon my wife, especially during the last months of her pregnancy. I took time off from shooting, rehearsals, script readings and everything till Imara was born.” Imran asked Katti Batti director Nikhil Advani to reschedule the shoot for after his wife’s delivery. Imran, who was off for almost nine months till 2014, states, “The last phase of [his wife’s] pregnancy was hard and tricky for both of us, but as everything settled down, I went back to shooting.”
Although Imran’s debut film had him touted as the next big thing in Bollywood, he never quite seemed to live up to that expectation. Despite working alongside some of India’s finest filmmakers and actors, such as Kareena Kapoor Khan in Gori Tere… and Anushka Sharma in Matru Ki Bijlee Ka Mandola, he couldn’t garner the applause he strived for. But he never lost faith himself, having hopes for a better script to come his way. And so it did in the form of Katti Batti.
Imran sings praises of his Katti Batti co-star, Kangana Ranaut, who has riveted audiences with films such as Queen and Tanu Weds Manu Returns. “I found Kangana to be someone who cares a lot about her work. She’s always willing to explore how she can add more depth and authenticity to her character. Her respect for her work is commendable,” he states.
Read: Didn't like script of Katti Batti first: Imran
If you’re a true Imran Khan fan, you probably watched his appearance on Kaun Banega Crorepati and how he sang the song Goray Rung ka Zamana by Vital Signs on the show, making known his penchant for Pakistani music and musicians. He’s particularly a fan of Strings duo Faisal Kapadia and Bilal Maqsood, whom he also considers as good friends. “I’ve been really close to Faisal and Bilal on a personal level. Since I was young, I had great love for music and back then, music CDs weren’t readily available, so I used to ask them [Strings] to send their music to me directly,” he shares. He got to meet them when he was 27. “They’re such cool guys and we went on to become close friends.”
In fact, Imran has been invited by Faisal and Bilal to Pakistan, which hasn’t materialised yet due to his professional and personal commitments. “Faisal and Bilal have been inviting me for the past two years, and I’ve been so caught up with Avantika, Imara and then the movie that it couldn’t happen. So, visiting Pakistan is long overdue.”
Imran has shared screen space with Pakistan’s very own ‘rockstar’ Ali Zafar in the film Mere Brother Ki Dulhan (2011). Sharing his experience working with Ali, who has been earning his acting and singing spurs on both sides of the border, he says, “Ali is hilarious. He has such a great sense of humour. He’s one of those guys who crack jokes to the point that sometimes people don’t even realise that he’s joking.”
As Pakistan’s television stars, such as Mahira Khan and Fawad Khan of Humsafar, gain ground in India, Imran considers this as a step towards improving ties between the two countries. He also lauds the good quality scripts Pakistani television is known to churn out. “I’ve heard actors and producers praising Pakistani TV dramas. They have so much to say about performances and the good quality scripts,” he notes.
Grandson of producer Nasir Hussain and nephew of the celebrated Aamir ‘Mr Perfectionist’ Khan, Imran holds artists liable for the successful joint ventures between Pakistan and India, including a few projects initiated by Aamir for both the countries. “The fact is that artists — actors, musicians and the media fraternity — have done more to [enhance] the Indo-Pak relationship than anyone else. I wish I could somehow further this creative interest,” he states. Expressing his gratitude for the support Pakistanis extend to Bollywood, he says, “I’m humbled and overwhelmed by the love Indian films and actors receive from Pakistan.”
Published in The Express Tribune, September 4th, 2015.
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