Imran Khan may seem like a true blue romantic hero. But there’s more to him than meets the eye. Yes, his last few films haven’t fared well at the box-office but movies like Matru Ki Bijlee Ka Mandola, Once Upon Ay Time In Mumbai Dobaara and Delhi Belly are proof that he has made brave career choices. His romcoms Break Ke Baad and Ek Main Aur Ekk Tu too haven’t been stereotypical fares. It’s pretty clear that Imran Khan is more than the average chocolate hero. He’s also known for his sartorial savvy. One of the smartest actors around, he doesn’t feed on his ‘star’ image. In fact, he appears to neither need nor want the constant attention. He even casually downplays his stop-n-stare looks – commendable in an industry that thrives on vanity. Also, a conversation with Imran Khan is never rehearsed. He’s articulate and his informal eloquence comes as a refreshing change. Excerpts from an intimate conversation…
Q. How would you describe your journey so far?
(Smiles) I’ve become a calmer and more confident person. Acting and appearing in public does that to you. This industry helps you develop a thicker skin and a cooler attitude. Whatever happens, whatever people speak about you ceases to matter.
Q. But it’s never easy to deal with disappointment…
I am practical to a fault. So no matter what happens, I am able to distill it down to its bear essence quickly. If something has gone wrong or is going wrong with a film, Avantika (Malik, wife) panics. But I don’t. If you’ve done your best and things aren’t working out there’s nothing you can do about it. What’s the point of freaking out? My sense of detachment rattles Avantika at times but since there’s nothing I can do about it, I accept it. Crying and stressing over it accomplishes absolutely nothing. I let go and move forward. I don’t believe in damaging myself. Your attitude to a problem is the only thing you can control.
Q. You’ve experimented with your roles and genres. Will you ever do a sex thriller?
Sex thrillers always end up looking sleazy. Somehow we don’t treat sex maturely in this country. It’s either sleazy or humorous, when it should actually be treated like a natural human emotion. If I get a good script, it’ll be a great space to be in. It’s a compelling genre.Q. Romcoms help sell unrealistic dreams. Do you believe that?
Films are escapist entertainment. You get to see things that you do not see in everyday life. Nobody wants to see you paying your bills and buying groceries in a movie. You want to see happier stuff, thrilling and adventurous stuff, things that you probably can’t get or won’t get to do. You want to see heroes driving fast cars and women wearing gorgeous dresses.
Q. What does Avantika think of Imran, the actor?
She feels I’m getting better with each film. She is also my greatest critic. She scrutinises all my films. To a point where she even tells me things like, “Why do you turn your eyes like that?” She is difficult to please.
Q. What’s the biggest misconception people have about you?
There are so many. And the fact is that I am not interested in setting the record straight or telling people whether what they know or they think they know is right or wrong.
Q. What are you addicted to?
(Laughs) The Internet. I have Internet on all my devices. My iPad and both my phones. I communicate faster on email than on phone or message. Email is my primary form of communication.
Q. Attraction to you is…
More than good looks. Great hair or a great body doesn’t result in attraction. There has to be something more, something that clicks.Q. What is the one quality that is becoming harder to find in people today?
Intelligence. It’s rare to find nowadays. For some reason, we’ve started glorifying stupidity and celebrating it. Nowadays there’s a glorification and a pride that comes with not knowing about something. I can’t understand how people can say, “I am stupid and I’m proud of it.” If someone said that in front of me, I’d hit the person on the head and tell them to shut up.
Q. If you weren’t an actor, what would you be?
I would be doing something creative. I enjoy writing. I have trained as a writer and filmmaker. So I’d probably be doing that.
Q. So when will you write your own script?
I’ve got one that I’ve been working on for about 10 years now. I just haven’t cracked it. For the past five to six years I haven’t actively sat on it. But I’ve just not been able to get the end right.
Q. What is your biggest stress reliever?
(Grins) Lying on the couch and watching a movie with my wife and my cat. We all need to recharge our creative batteries once in a while. Different people have different ways of recharging it. For me it is travel, reading and watching movies.
Q. If you could pick two people to have dinner with dead or alive, who would you pick?
Ernest Hemmingway and Charlie Chaplin. Hemmingway’s writings aside, he seemed like an interesting person. His life of adventure and his public image has influenced so many generations. Q. When you want to feel sexy, what do you wear?
An Italian suit. You feel awesome and look awesome.
Q. Do you have an OCD?
Yes. Everything in my house or whereever I am has to be aligned and symmetrical. When my maid cleans my room, I don’t like her even putting my books upside down. It really bothers me. I also prefer calling an OCD, CDO because it’s alphabetically arranged.
(Laughs after looking at my stunned expression) I am joking.
Q. Every actor worth his salt is turning to TV. Why have you stayed away?
TV in this country is unwatchable. There is nothing for me on it. Reality shows are done to death and we do go on them for movie promotions. If I get a chance to do something, I’d like to do a bucket list travel show. Akshat Verma had planned something like that with me but it went over budget so it didn’t work out.
Q. How do you want to remember your stint in films?
All I know is when I look back, I want to say, “I did the films I wanted to and I worked with the people I liked.” I don’t want to cringe when I look back.