By Devansh Patel Bollywood Hungama News Network
A year ago, Imran Khan was no where seen in Bollywood. Then he got cast in Jaane Tu... Ya Jaane Na, and every girl in India wanted him. He's an actor who tapped into the fantasies of a generation of girls who were still wearing braces and driving with learners' license. A man who helped bring sweater vests, slim-fit suits, and skinny ties back in vogue. A man who reminded us of the great James Dean and proves a wardrobe of well-cut basics is as potent today as it was a half century ago. July 2, Monday, at 4pm, we arrive in India's most prized possession - a rickshaw. Imran Khan's gate keeper opens the door. We enter his vintage looking bungalow situated on the hill slope at Bandra's Pali Hill. He is seen giving an interview to some lady journalist. The dude is looking crisp. Like out-of-the-box crisp. Like he could go ahead, right this minute, and tee it up in front of a half-dozen television cameras: Diesel denims, a white hand painted slim fit t-shirt and his brown flip-flops make him look more comfortable than ever, as with a lot of things in his life: music, acting, clothing line and his dream business. It's one of those Mumbai days that feel like an ostentatious gift. A breeze blows clouds across a dark grey sky. It had just rained heavily for a few good minutes. It's so quiet you can even hear loose sediment trickling down his window pane. But when he gets talking, you feel that he is more than just another buffed and pretty face. In this part one of the two part series, UK's Harrow Observer columnist and Bollywood Hungama's London correspondent Devansh Patel meets a man who is considered the lord of teenyboppers, a man who has redefined the art of acting and an actor who has nothing left to prove: Imran Khan
James Dean and Marlon Brando
"As you're interviewing me, and this may sound spooky, but just above your shoulder is a James Dean picture framed. Now what I liked about him was that he was an awkward guy. He literally brought in a different style of acting, right from his first film East of Eden. Back in the 50's, acting was very stylized, the dialogues were artificial and then there is one guy who does something weird. It's like seeing a maverick doing something completely out of the ordinary. That's a great feeling. He had a style of his own. If you watch Marlon Brando in The Street Car Named Desire, you'll get the same feel. James Dean was raw. All the others were ripe. To see an actor doing that radical was surprising. To me, Dean and Brando were guys whom I watched a lot. They were men who never really combed their hair and still look charismatic. So you tend to imbibe things when you watch actors like them."
"Somehow the presence of meeting your fans or audiences in public face to face gives your film that little push. So if I go to London or New York and a local photographer takes my picture, he feels better. You are traveling the world and then doing phone interviews don't help. I like to meet journalists and fans in person. The audience feels that I am taking trouble to come to meet them. They feel a little more of a connect that I am reaching out to them. If I have a hand shake with a fan, I am winning that persons heart permanently. If I am rude to my fan, I will lose him permanently and I'm sure about that."
"A lot of the guys I hang out with are new generation of actors, like Ranbir Kapoor and Abhay Deol. I am very friendly with these guys and we tend to like the same kind of movies, talk in the same way. Same applies with my directors, like Soham Shah and Abbas Tyrewala. We have a similar thought process. The grammar, meaning how a film is shot, how it is portrayed, how you act the scene, etc. has changed drastically. The way Soham will shoot it as a director is less theatrical. I'll give you a great example of my grandfather's film which I was watching. It's a steady cam shot. The hero is walking across with an important letter in his hand. It slips out and falls down and the hero continues to walk. Then the light focuses on the letter and the camera zooms in and holds it for a couple of seconds. Imagine doing this today. That was the grammar in the 50's and that's the way the director used to communicate with his audience. You had to underline the fact; the letter was important and had to be noticed. Today a crying scene need not show an actor cry. Today, the director will take a close up of my face and show my eyes moist. That's it."
"I am influenced quite a bit from the West as far as my styling goes. Firstly, I don't wear a lot of Indian clothes. The actual styling is done by my stylist Harmeet. He has done my styling for my new film Luck and almost all my photo shoots. For me, suit styling has got to be always based on Oceans Eleven, Twelve and Thirteen. Brad Pitt and George Clooney wore suits as if they were carrying a jeans and a t-shirt. Skinny ties are in and you have to match up to the world and not the West. We all are forgetting that we do the same things as people in London, New York or Tokyo do. We listen to our I-Pods, watch the same English films which are released, try to wear the same type of clothes which are worn by celebrities, etc."
"For me, success is having the freedom to do only what you really want to do. The second you sit back and don't want to do something, you've lost your freedom. Your only motivation to do something is that you want to do it. My success will never change because I feel that I am very successful. I sign a film because I feel that I am really excited about doing this. That's all I do. In terms a money, there is a fair chance that I am making less money than most people in the industry. I can bet on that. But I am happy with what I am getting in return. I have got more than I have asked for, actually. I have good house, great friends and two awesome cars - a white BMW 3 series and a brown Porsche SUV. I have plenty of money to live the kind of lifestyle that I want. I am not wanting and I can't see things getting much better than this, even though I know it can get worse."
"BMW is my type of car. I tend to like sporty cars and small cars. It's a great fun car, it's small and it's like you are go-karting while you are driving. You are seated low and driving in a BMW series, except the seven series which is huge. The Porsche SUV I have is more for practical reasons. It's more for taking it out while I am filming. I can pack my entire luggage in there, my crew, my assistant and my boy who takes care of all the petty stuff while shooting. I say it's an all-in-one car for more reasons than just one."
"My family has never let me down but there was a point in my life and career where I thought that I had let Aamir Khan down. It was during the time I was shooting Jaane Tu... Ya Jaane Na. I wasn't able to give as much to it as I could've. I was cribbing about it. He told me not to crib over issues like this. Aamir made me aware of the movie business and made me see the harsh realities of how the business inside and outside functions. I know it now because I am four films old."
"Star power does not affect my life if I'm walking down the streets of Mumbai, forget London or the U.S. But yes, I can say this because I am three films old today. In the next two years, if there comes a point that I can't step out of my house, I'll have to do it. Like how SRK, Salman and Hrithik do because there'll be a stampede if the people see them roaming the streets of any country. I will be able to do this once I become a star power."
"I always shop at H&M and Topshop. I live in there. I was there last month doing a photo shoot. So I walked into one of the H&M shops and came out with two bags filled with t-shirts and accessories. If I find something that I like, I pick that up in each colour. So if I find a good looking shirt, I'll pick that up in black, blue, white, purple and red. One in each colour. If the clothes fit me well, I take 'em. Now it may sound strange but I somehow don't like men's Eau De Toilettes. You will never see me wear cologne. It's a non film star thing I know. Unlike film stars who wear Davidoff Cool Water or Polo Sport all the time."
Beers and Ales
"I've got to say one thing about London. I love the beer man! I love the real country pubs out there. I do not eat anything till I sample one of each pint of London Pride, Fullers, etc, the real British beers. I hate Stella Artois though. I am celebrating right now in Mumbai. Am dancing around because for the first time Ale is made available in India. I have never really cared for hard liquor but love the beers and the Ales. What I'd really like is to open an Ale and a Beer house over here. I'd love to open a place like that in Mumbai. I mean, I'd live there."
"There are a lot of good tapas places in London. Especially the one in Convent Garden called La Tasca. You get some great tapas food and Spanish dishes. It's an awesome place to have a nice dinner. On the other hand, my girlfriend loves Wagamama food. We have to have one meal a day in Wagamama if we are in London. You get some good noodles and salad there."