Imran Khan stayed out of the limelight for almost two years (after Gori Tere Pyaar Mein; 2013) to spend quality time with his newborn (his daughter Imara Malik Khan was born in June, 2014). As he returns with a film, the actor talks about all things Bollywood, and more.
Were you missing the spotlight?
No, I wasn’t. When I don’t have a film, I don’t know what to talk about, since my life is so simple. I have a wife, a kid, and eight to 10 friends, who have been with me for 20 years. Outside of that, what do I tell people? I am happy living a peaceful, quiet life. I don’t need publicity.
And what about work?
Yes, I was missing my work. I missed waking up in the morning and going to the sets. Imara was born in June last year, and I started work on my upcoming film in September-October. By that time I got back on the sets, I came in with a big appetite (for work).
You and Ranbir Kapoor started your careers at the same time. Do you ever feel you have lagged behind?
I don’t think about other people’s careers. Every actor functions differently, and has different goals. I have never thought that "I have to earn so much money" or "I want tags like Badshah or Ikka". My goals are very personal, and a major part of my happiness comes from work. It matters to me whether I am proud of the work I am doing or not.
Imara has turned one. How has life changed for you?
Her birth has made my priorities very easy. Suddenly, my time has become much more valuable to me. The other interesting thing is that I have started to look at myself through Imara’s eyes, with the thought being that whatever decisions I make, I want her to be proud of me.
Have you learnt the skills of a good father?
That I had learnt a long time back (laughs). I grew up in a joint family. So be it Mansoor’s (Khan; uncle) kids or Junaid (Aamir Khan’s son), they were born in front of me. Since I was 10, I have been feeding babies with bottles or changing diapers.
Why didn’t you do any film after Gori Tere Pyaar Mein! (2013)?
Actually, I wanted my upcoming film (with Kangana Ranaut) to be my next back then, but since Imara (his daughter) was due, I didn’t want to start shooting. So, I asked Nikhil (Advani; director) if he could give me three months after my baby was born, and he was fine with it. In between, I didn’t want to pick up a film and do it quickly. I wanted to do a movie the way I like to work (when all the attention is on one film). That’s how we made Jaane Tu... Ya Jaane Na (2008), Delhi Belly (2011) and I Hate Luv Storys (2010), and they all worked out well. When I moved away from that style of working, my films didn’t work.
As there is a surge of new actors in the industry, do you ever feel insecure?
No, because the reality is that if you are a working actor, you have to think in terms of 15-20 years. What did I do in three years? Jaane Tu... Ya Jaane Na, Luck (2009), I Hate Luv Storys, Kidnap (2008), Delhi Belly and Mere Brother Ki Dulhan (2011). Everything went well, but there were ups and downs. I have been working in Bollywood for seven years, but still, there is so much to do and learn as an actor. You can’t be like, "One new guy has come in, and given a hit. Now, I am insecure." You have to think long-term.
Are you more careful about your film choices now?
The idea that I wasn’t careful earlier is ridiculous. Two years back, the industry and media were patting me on my back for my genius film choices. I did a movie with Vishal Bhardwaj (film-maker), Once Upon Ay Time in Mumbai Dobaara! (2013) and a good-looking rom-com with Karan Johar’s (film-maker) company. But what happened to my "intelligence?" I was extremely careful, cunning and intelligent then too.
Have you signed more films now?
Aamir mamu (Khan; actor) also asked me, "What’s your next film?" And I said that I am still working on it. He said, "Good. Wait around. Don’t sign till your next film releases, because I am confident that it will do a lot for you." His words gave me a lot of confidence.
Watch: Katti Batti trailer
Imran on Ranbir's 'Failures'
The shortsightedness of people never ceases to amaze me. You take an actor of Ranbir’s calibre, and if two of his films don’t work, you start saying, “Lagta hai khatam ho gaya (it seems he is over).” Are you insane? Name an actor, including Salman Khan, Aamir and Shah Rukh Khan, who hasn’t had three flops? So, be it Ranbir or me, you can’t say, “Khatam ho gaya.” Anyone who says that is a real fool.
Imran on Aamir’s involvement in his career
For the first time, I have felt that I have made a film, as an actor, that is worthy of being seen by Aamir mamu. Prior to this, I was never this confident, because I know he will be my harshest critic. Even while shooting, I told him, “Mamu, I feel I am doing good work, and I would really like you to watch this one.” For the first time, he has praised me as an actor. It’s deadly feeling (smiles) to get him to critique my performance.
Read: Katti Batti is like repeating my personal life, says Imran