The heart throb of Pakistan, model and actor Imran Abbas Naqvi, who has been a hit on Paki TV, is excited about playing the role of a nawab in Muzaffar Ali’s next celluloid offering – Raqs. Before wrapping up the Lucknow leg of the film’s shooting, Imran talked to LT about things personal and professional.
THE NAWAB IS HERE “I was offered Raqs many months back. Muzaffar saab is a very creative person and is art personified. Raqs has been on his mind for many years. Itna khhobsurat experience hai to work in his project. Umrao Jaan ki CDs hum dil se laga ke rakhte hain. Kamaal ki baat dekhiye, mera acting career Umrao Jaan se shuru hua tha. It was my first serial jisme maine Lucknow ke nawab ka role kiya tha. Today, I am not only working with the director of the original Umrao Jaan on screen, but also getting a chance to work in Lucknow. It is kismat connection.”
TEHZEEB AND TAMEEZ KA SHEHR But Imran isn’t a stranger to Lucknow. “So many of my close friends in Pakistan have families in Lucknow. I used to hear a lot about Lucknow ki tehzeeb and tameez from them. Toh mere zehen mein ek Lucknow ka clear sketch bana tha. Yahan log ladai bhi ‘aap’ keh ke karte hain. I can spend a lifetime in Lucknow. Being an architect, Lucknow’s architecture pulls me,” says he.
GOODBYE TELEVISION So how did an architect become an actor? “The institution from where I graduated, College of Arts, Lahore, gave us very good exposure in acting and music. I used to paint and had already trained in classical music. Though I received a lot of offers for modelling, I didn’t take them up as I wanted to complete my studies. But when some very lucrative offers came my way, I couldn’t say no to them. I always wanted to be financially independent and modelling and acting helped me with that,” says Imran whose very first serial catapulted him to fame. “Umrao Jaan made me popular in the entire country overnight. But I am not doing TV anymore. I am like ‘been there, done that’. I have worked with the best directors, producers and actors in Pakistan and now my whole focus is on Bollywood,” says he.
Ask him about how different content on Pakistan TV is from what we see in India, and Imran says, “In Pakistan we don’t have soap operas, we have have very focused 25-episode serials. So, it allows an actor to take up multiple projects simultaneously. However, Pakistani dramas are now getting influenced by Indian TV serials a lot, but in a good way. Indian serials are watched a lot there,” says Imran.
A BIG LOSS Telling us about how he forayed into Bollywood, Imran says, “Raj Kumar Santoshi was the first director who signed me officially for a three-film deal with his own production house but sadly the deal didn’t get materialized. I was offered the lead role in Aashiqui 2, and I was very much interested in the project, but unfortunately I was bound by contract with Santoshiji and missed out on that. I still feel very bad to have not been able to do the movie. It is my career’s biggest loss because it was a huge film and it was a big production house. But thankfully, I am doing another project with the same production house, which is again on the lines of Aashiqui 2,” says Imran who also lost out on Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Guzaarish, in which he was offered the role eventually played by Adiya Roy Kapur.
“In fact, my first telephone call from Bollywood was from Sanjay Bhansali for that role. Another big miss was when Akshay Kumar called me for Boss, but I couldn’t say yes to it too because of the same contract. I have lost out on a lot of movies because of that one contract. I was not aware about the dynamics of Bollywood back then but now I am slowly getting a hang of it. At the end of the day I am very proud of myself that main apni zabaan ka bahut pakka hoon. Mujhe chalakiyaan aur makkariyaan nahi aati. I am right now excited about my first release Creature with Vikram Bhatt, where I am paired opposite Bipasha Basu. It is the first 3D monster film of India.” Despite so many losses, Imran is feeling great here. “I am feeling great to be a part of Bollywood. Yeh ek khwaab ki si duniya hai. Everything is so magnified in Bollywood,” says he.
One question that Imran is continuously asked is about his single status. However, spilling the beans, he says he is all set to tie the knot soon. “I am seeing someone in Pakistan and she is not from the film fraternity. She is a family friend and I am planning to tie the knot soon. Once a few of my Bollywood movies release, you’ll see me happily married, hopefully by next year,” says he with a smile.