His debut film Creature went with a whimper, but Pakistani TV actor Imran Abbas Khan chalks it up to being an experimental film and is looking ahead. While shooting for his TV show in Pakistan, Imran talks to us about his second film Jaanissar and his current relationship status.
How difficult or easy was it shoot for a period drama?
It was very difficult as the character was very different from whatever I have done so far. We were going back in history – the film is set in 1877 Lucknow – and I had to transform myself completely. I had to get the dialect, the body language and the psyche of the character right. I had to play the perfect English gentleman from royalty (he is brought up in the palace) for which I had to get my gait right. At the same time my Urdu had to be extremely good as I had to deliver important lines in poetry. I am a poet myself so that helped. It’s a very diversified character.
Did you refer to any books or films to prepare yourself?
Not exactly. Muzaffar Ali saab himself is a book. He is art personified. He is an artiste, poet, musician, a director helped me in every single way. You earn so much sitting with him. I feel enriched and enlightened working with him.
Tell me how did the film come to you?
I had just started shooting for Creature. Somebody told me that Muzaffar saab wanted to meet me, so, I met him in Delhi. The film had been in his mind for 20 years. Everything was clearly etched in his mind. I was already a big fan of Muzaffar saab. When he told me he wanted to do the film with me, I had no second thoughts. In fact, irrespective of whether I would be in the film or not, I was just happy to meet him. The film, however, got delayed. Fortunately for me, by the time we started Jaanissar, there were no date clashes as Creature was complete.
The film is set 20 years after Umrao Jaan. Have you seen Umrao Jaan?
I have seen the film several times, not recently though. However, I keep watching the songs. In fact, we shot one song Humein Bhi Pyaar Kar Le sung by Shreya Ghoshal in the same place where Inn Aankhon Ki Masti was shot. The same choreographer Kumudini Lakhia directed it too! It was amazing to shoot in the same location and ambience. It was wonderful to be a part of it.
Do you feel this should have been your debut film instead of Creature?
I know Creature did not do well, but I liked it. All of us involved in the film from the director Vikram Bhatt to the artistes knew we were taking a huge risk. It was an experimental film and not all experiments are successful. It was a new genre in Bollywood and we have at least give credit to the director for taking the plunge. It was a new thought, but I guess Indian and Pakistani viewers are used to Bollywood masala. If the same idea had come from Hollywood they would have liked it. Nobody can predict the outcome of a film. It was my destiny. There are so many actors whose first films have been superhits but they are nowhere now and at the same time actors whose debut films were flops are doing well.
You must be banking on Jaanissar now?
I am keeping my fingers crossed. But I can tell you that it’s a film you’ll see again and again. Every element of art has been set like a jewel – characters, poetry, music, lighting, etc everything is perfect. It’s a film that will be stored in libraries. Also, not all films are made with the intention of making hits. It’s a big responsibilty making this kind of a film. Many people want certain historical aspects to be hidden. These are usually brought forth in a subtle manner by Hollywood filmmakers. You’ll find that in this film.
Now, that you are doing films, will you continue with TV?
Yes, I am already two shows Mera Naam Yusuff Hai and Alvida. Pakistan TV is very strong and I will continue to be a part of it. I will not do many shows but one or two in a year.
There is an influx of Pakistani actors in India…
I am happy that Fawad Khan and Mahira Khan have made inroads in Bollywood. It’s a positive sign. Earlier several Indian actors like Nandita Das, Kirron Kher and Naseeruddin Shah have come to Pakistan and have been appreciated. It’s about time we stopped talking about borders and hatred. We will discourage it through our art.
There has been talk about you being engaged and married? Is it true?
No, not at all. I am not even committed to anyone! I don’t know from where these rumours have started. They have even posted a picture of my so-called wife, but it’s of an actress!
When did you start getting Bolly offers?
Since the last six-seven years. But nothing materialised for some or the other reason. I was signed by Rajkumar Santoshi for three films but those didn’t happen. I also couldn’t be a part of Goliyon Ki Raas Leela – Ram Leela and Boss, but the one I regret the most is not doing Aashiqui 2.
Which directors are on your wishlist?
Rajkumar Hirani, Sanjay Leela Bhansali and even newcomers like Vikas Bahl who directed Queen. They are very creative.
Any actress you want to work with?
I love Madhuri Dixit. I have been a huge fan of her and if I ever get a chance to work with her I will be on cloud nine. I would also like to work with Kangana Ranaut. She is a brilliant actress.