From Boy To Man

Cheeky chappie Imran Khan has grown up. Gayatri Sahay catches up with him to discuss method, moustaches and mindset ahead of his new movie Once Upon A Time In Mumbai Dobaara.

Posted: 12.08.13

So how are you feeling about your new movie?
You know I’m usually nervous, but this time there are a lot of people in the corner rooting for me and for my co-stars. I’ve tended to work with first time directors who don’t have a big track record but Milan Luthria has proved himself time and time again and that gives you a lot of security as an actor.

Audiences reacted really well to the first movie; how do you think they will feel about the sequel?
The fact that it is a sequel is scary. People are anticipating what it will be about and are already excited for it – I think it has come together really well but if course it’s all about how the fans feel! Fingers crossed!

What was it like working as part of an ensemble cast?
This is one of the first times that I have worked with a star of such stature, Akshay, and I was a bit nervous. But it was the opposite - scenes with Sonakshi were chilled but I really have to give credit to Akshay. He could be the type of star that would make you feel small or uncomfortable but instead he is the first to celebrate your success in a scene or give you a bear hug and let you know that things are going well. He is such a happy guy that it made filming a lot of fun.

How was it doing a role in a movie that was set in a different decade? What sort of things did you have to do to authenticate your performance?
Well, I don’t usually play characters that are larger than life, so here wardrobe was a big part of preparing for the role. I did things like buying a tawees from a Jama Masjid in Delhi and started to wear it. I even bought a feroza ring and wore my own pathani suit for some scenes. My friend Wassim even gave me a jacket from the 80’s and of course I wore pointy, leather boots that were huge at the time!

What about the moustache was that wardrobe or au naturel?
That was all me! I actually went straight into Once Upon A Time straight after wrapping up with Matru Ki Bijlee Ka Mandola, in which I had a beard. So I trimmed my beard in small increments each week, trying to figure out the right look for Aslam (Imran’s character in the film.) I even sent snapshots of each trimming session to the director Milan until it looked just right!

Do you feel that your appearance in a film can improve the way you act?
I think appearance helps you to get into the mind space of the role you are playing. Even in reality if you are wearing a sharp suit you stand differently. When you come home and wear shorts, for example, then you feel different also. It helps to set the tone of your body language and small elements like a tawees or ring piece together and start to give you an idea of the character that you are playing. It gives you a sense of who the guy is. I think with any role you have to find a sense of common ground with the character- whether it’s a similar sense of humour or a shared perspective on life or here, costume. With this character Aslam it was definitely costume.

You have some action scenes in the movie, do you have stage combat training or do you learn on set?
No, I never really thought I would ever become an actor, so I don’t have any formal training. I mean I went to film school, but that was to learn the art of being a director. But I was quite athletic as a kid and into fairly extreme sports like skate boarding so I do enjoy doing the action scenes and am able to pick them up quite quickly.

Is it easier to learn an action sequence or a dance sequence?
I would say action. Especially in this movie, working with an actor like Akshay, who has a wealth of knowledge in this department he just knows how to make them look larger than life. He will give you tips to make them look more dangerous than they actually are. He’s a genius. Also I think with action scenes you can always improvise a little and try and give it some individual flair into the scenes. But with a dancing sequence you have to make sure you co-ordinate with every one else and make sure that you follow what has been choreographed.

You have always maintained a very dignified manner in Bollywood - how do you do it?
The fact is that in this industry, if some one else fails that doesn’t help me. Yes in an actual race if the other guy trips and falls over then of course as his competitor it gives me an advantage. I’m very pragmatic like that, but this is just basic logic and practicality. The industry is big enough for every one and I wish them success as I hope they do or me too.

Once Upon A Time In Mumbai Dobaara is released August 15th 2013

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