Cinema no more wholesome family entertainer: Imran Khan

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By Manpreet Kaur (12:09)

New Delhi, June 30 (IANS) Offbeat and parallel cinema, films for children and adults, or divided between rural and urban... the lines had been blurred for many years, but the Hindi film industry is now clearly divided into segments, says actor Imran Khan who also believes that Bollywood is now in its "best phase".

"Cinema is no more a wholesome family entertainer. Just like television has always had different segments according to their feel and storyline, now segmentation is happening in the film industry," Imran told IANS in an exclusive interview.

He might be just five films old but Imran, nephew of actor Aamir Khan and producer-director Mansoor Khan, has had a long association with Bollywood.

"The segmentation may be on the basis of adult or children, rural or urban, commercial or offbeat cinema. All these segments have been overlapping for years but have never never been defined so clearly as they are now," said Imran, whose latest film "Delhi Belly" releases Friday.

The 28-year-old had a stint with showbiz as a child star in films like "Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak" and "Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikander" before stepping into Bollywood as a leading man in the 2008 romcom "Jaane Tu...Ya Jaane Na", directed by Abbas Tyrewala and produced by Aamir.

He later went on to do films like "Kidnap" with Sanjay Dutt and Minissha Lamba, "Luck" with Shruti Haasan, "I Hate Luv Storys" with Sonam Kapoor and "Break Ke Baad" with Deepika Padukone.

Other than his debut film, the others were dismal failures. But the actor, set for his latest release, feels the industry is in its best phase.

"In my opinion, we are in the best time that Hindi film industry has ever had... because, as the way it has opened up, there has been nothing like this in the past. It is growing by leaps and bounds," said Imran.

"In the last couple of years we have set a new set of record for box-office; collected more money than anybody could have ever thought an Indian film could. Our market is growing, our cash turnover is growing. It is exploding," he added.

Interestingly, Imran is of the view that the collaboration with corporate houses has been a bane.

"In the last few years there has been a massive boom with corporate film houses - and now they are starting to learn their lesson. In a couple of months, they kind of destroyed the market.

"They were so desperate to have a star that they were just throwing money without asking about the script, the budget... nothing. They were happily signing on pay cheques of Rs.20-40 crore without having any knowledge about it. It took the industry time to understand that it was not helping but degrading the standards," he said in a firm voice.

Imran, who is amongst the most sought after actors in Bollywood, admits he is very particular about the kind of business his film does.

"I am very particular about the recovery of my business. I charge less money than most of my contemporaries. I don't like to burden my film upfront. I tend to take a share in the profit of the film. It's a risk - you are gambling on the success of your film.

"I am basically investing in the future because by keeping my budget low I am ensuring a better opportunity for my film to perform. If it does well, I will earn more money, but if it doesn't I will lose money along with it.

"But my prime worry is that along with the film everybody who works on the project should make money. I want people in the industry to say: 'if I work with Imran it's a good investment'."

When asked how difficult it is for a newcomer to break into an industry dominated by the Khans and Kapoors, he said :"Salman, Shah Rukh, Aamir - they are like legends now, they have been here for more than 20 years. It takes that much time to build up that kind of fan following. It can't happen in two years. You have to consistently build an audience."

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