Imran Khan is starting 2013 off with a brand new look and is finally taking risks like his main rival Ranbir Kapoor. Will his turn in Matru Ki Bijlee Ka Mandola pay off?
The much-awaited Matru Ki Bijlee Ka Mandola could change Imran Khan's career. The actor has undergone a drastic transformation for this film – a step that scared him quite a bit as it was a huge change from his regular urban, suave avatar. We, for one, are extremely excited about Imran tapping into his potential. Looking every bit the sexy rustic with unkempt beard and sun-kissed brown hair, Masala! was delighted to be in conversation with the star for this new phase in his career.
What made you most anxious about Matru Ki Bijlee Ka Mandola – playing the character or working with a director like Vishal Bharadwaj?
Whether you're a director, actor or crew member, you are always anxious when working on a film and concerned whether your work will be good enough or if people are going to like you. Ultimately, our work is placed in front of an audience and it's for them to judge. Everything we do is up for judgement so any creative person is always concerned.
What was the biggest challenge you faced as an actor with this film?
The biggest challenge I faced was creating a three-dimensional believable character from a world I am not familiar with. For most other films that I have done, the urban films to be precise, while the character maybe a little different from me, I was still able to use elements of my personality to bring the character alive. For Matru, I had to drastically change every aspect of myself, right from my body language and simple gestures to wearing sunglasses and the way I walked and talked.
How confident were you about playing a character like Matru?
I have never felt as confident and secure in myself as an actor and the credit goes to Vishal because he simply put the responsibility of becoming Matru in my hands. Without a director like Vishal, I don't think I would have felt as confident and accomplished as I did by doing it myself.
Will this film bring in a double celebration as it releases a day after your wedding anniversary?
As of now I don't have a plan. I have just decided to dedicate my anniversary to the film.
How was it working with Pankaj Kapoor?
Pankaj Kapoor is a tremendously talented person but it's also difficult to work with him. He is like a coiled spring – the moment the director calls for action he unleashes all he has and his performance is always superlative. I had to be very alert, sharp and focused when working with him.
You are playing drastically different characters in your forthcoming films. Why is this?
I imagine that it's the directors who are seeing more in me now. But yes, it's important to have a strategy in the industry because you don't know what will work and what won't since it's the audience that ultimately decides the fate of your work. As an actor you go with your gut feeling and with things that seem interesting but still you never know. My career so far has been built by first time directors. The kinds of films they were trying to build were small with intimate and personal stories. In the past year things have changed and now established directors have started calling me to take up slightly more grown up roles and serious films.
How did your wife Avantika react to your look in the film?
She was not happy dealing with the beard off-screen but she loved the look on-screen so I guess that made it alright.
They say marriage changes men; have you friends and family noticed anything different in you over the last year?
Men changing after marriage is a great myth perpetrated by unmarried people! Actually, marriage is where you get a ring and a piece of paper that states you're married. For me, when you're committed to a person, it doesn't change anything on that sheet of paper and just depends on the way you conduct yourself in the relationship. Avantika and I have been together for 10 years, have lived together for eight years and we've been married for two years; there has been no change.
What was your highlight of 2012 and what are you most looking forward to in 2013?
Moving back into my home was the highlight of 2012; I had moved out for two-and-a-half years while it was undergoing extensive renovation and I'm finally back. We moved back in the year my home celebrated its 50th anniversary. It was an emotional high point.
You play character Harry Mandola's Man Friday in the film; do you have your very own Man Friday in real life?
We have different expectations with different people. I have a fantastic personal assistant who runs around to get me food and things when I need it; I have great friends who I will call if I need anything. To answer your question, no, I don't have one single man Friday who does everything – I have different people for different things.
You don't get into controversies or throw tantrums. Have you always been a nice guy or do you have your moments?
I don't have the energy or time to deal with controversies and stay far from it all.
How did you celebrate the New Year?
It was an uneventful New Year's Eve because I am not big on parties.
Is it true that you have always claimed that you're very comfortable with yourself and wouldn't want to change anything at all in the New Year?
I think strengths and weaknesses are part of your personality. They make you who you are. If you are not happy with yourself then you have a bigger problem. I am very comfortable with who I am.
Have you made New Year's resolutions in the past and stuck by them?
No, I don't see why one should wait for January 1, to change your life. If you want to do something in your life why not do it today rather than wait for a specific date? Be determined and you can do anything