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'Hiding Avantika would be disrespectful to her'

Called ‘cute’ and ‘adorable’, he’s handling adulation with gratitude and a sense of wonderment. Here's Imran Khan in conversation with Roshmila Bhattacharya.

entertainment Updated: Jul 21, 2008 12:44 IST
Roshmila Bhattacharya

No heavy duty introduction needed. All those who love the movies are aware that a new hero has hit show town. Called ‘cute’ and ‘adorable’, especially by the campus crowd, he’s handling adulation with gratitude and a sense of wonderment—aah, this has happened to me. Without much more ado then, here’s Imran Khan in conversation with Roshmila Bhattacharya.

You’ve scored one of the year’s biggest hits. Surprised?
Yeah, especially when I’m told that tickets are selling in black. I thought black marketeers had gone out of business. It’s a simple, small film, almost like a student film.When we watched the first rough cut with Mansoor (Khan) and Aamir (Khan), at the end of three hours, Abbas (director Abbas Tyrewala) and I looked at each other in horror, we thought, “We’re dead!” Aamir reassured us, “You don’t see it yet but you’ve made a very good film.” But that night Abbas and I didn’t sleep. We slept only after the second cut when the film began taking shape. <b1>

To think it would be a blockbuster?

You’re driving a BMW these days. Were you overwhelmed by the gift from mamu Aamir?
It was a shock. Aamir had messaged, asking me to drop by with my parents and Avantika (girlfriend Avantika Malik). He needed to discuss certain changes he wanted to incorporate after the release. After 10-15 minutes, he walked me to the balcony and pointed down, “What do you think?” It was a white BMW. It was one of those slo-mo moments. Aamir smiled, “It’s for you.” I refused to believe him till he gave me the keys.

What changes did he want to discuss?
The new song that has been inserted? Two versions of Jaane tu mera kya hai by Aditi and Jai had looked good on paper but in the film, they interrupted the flow. So we’d snipped it out. After the release, those who’d seen it asked about it. Aamir wrote about it on his blog, we were encouraged by the response.. so the song’s back.

Do you sing it to Avantika?
(Smiles) How I wish I could sing.. or play an instrument. I can’t.

So how do you romance her?
I’ve only done one romantic thing in my life. I filled her room with 200 candles, all lit up.. and proposed to her. With the windows shut tight and the fan off, it was stifling hot. But she accepted.<b2>

Unlike Aamir, you haven’t hidden your girlfriend.

Aamir didn’t want to either, but since so many careers were at stake in the case of

Qayamat se Qayamat Tak

, my


(Nasir Husain) suggested that he should keep his marriage a secret. Two weeks later, he came out in the open with Reena.

Hiding Avantika would be disrespectful to her and Aamir agreed.

Is she your first girlfriend?

No, I’d been through four-five heartbreaks before I met her at a party. We got talking. We met again and talked some more. Over five-and-a-half years, the relationship developed.

Do you fight?

The only time I had no arguments with a girlfriend, the relationship ended badly. I think it’s healthy to disagree occasionally.

What makes Avantika special?

She’s very intelligent. She’s a creative executive with Studio 18. She reads scripts.. handles projects.

Do you debate on career decisions together?

No, that’s entirely my call.

Studio 18 has picked up your next movie,


, because of the Avantika connection?

I don’t think a corporate company would take a decision based on whom I’m dating.

What did she think of

Jaane Tu..?

She liked it but she knows me too well to be objective. She could see all my flaws. I cringe when I see that scene with Aditi’s parents when they’re talking of marriage and I think they’re offering me a job. It’s not a good performance. I’m okay in intense scenes but the lighter ones stump me. I also lack flamboyance.. and I don’t know how I fared in

Pappu can’t dance saala


Manjari Fadnis believes you will make a brilliant director some day.

I’d like to direct some day.. a film that’s entertaining and intelligent. I made a 12-minute film

Happy Birthday

. The shot taking was amateurish but I still like my script.

Apparently, a channel ripped off two of your scripts.

Just one, a stand-alone one-hour episode. I’d met a couple of channel heads, they expanded my idea into a screenplay and even cast a friend of mine.

Will you ever venture into TV again?

Not unless there’s a major change in content. I don’t watch TV, I don’t even have a TV set. Aamir seems to be taking a personal interest in your career.

He went the extra mile for

Jaane Tu..

since he was producing it and it had no star value. He wasn’t involved when Jhamu Sugandh was producing it. Early on in the shooting, I had issues with the director. Aamir told me that it was my responsibility to support the director who’s like a lone ranger battling the odds. He also told me then that if he didn’t think I had potential, he wouldn’t be wasting his time on me. (Smiles) That boosted my morale but now I’m on my own. <b3>

Aamir spoke to Kamal Haasan for Shruti who’s paired with you in Soham Shah’s



Aamir hasn’t even met Soham. And I recommended Shruti. Soham was looking for a new girl. I’ve known Shruti since we were kids, I thought she’d fit inwell.

Have you seen

Love Story 2050


Not yet, but I intend to.

How do you react to the talk that Aamir sabotaged Harman Baweja’s film?

Aamir tends not to react, but I do. He’s a man of integrity, he would never stoop so low.

Are you doing

Delhi Belly


No, the dates are clashing with


. And Kiran Rao’s film? She hasn’t offered me a role. She was our AD for four days. She’s a very good assistant director.

What did your dad Anil Pal and your British grandma think of

Jaane Tu..?

I translated it for grandma.. she doesn’t understand Hindi. She loved it, dad too.

Your mother, Nuzhat, has been through two divorces. Did they affect you?

Neither of them were acrimonious.. there was no ugliness. Dad stays with us when he’s down from the U S. Mum, dad and papa (Raj Zutshi) were very concerned about my well-being.

Your mother wasn’t too keen on you joining movies, right?

My grandfather was kicked out of home for wanting to join this profession.. which wasn’t considered respectable. That’s why mum, who’s a therapist, was wary. But by the age of 18, I knew it had to be movies. Since the industry has given us all that we have, it couldn’t be that bad. At 19, I joined the NewYork Film Academy in LA. At 22 I signed

Jaane Tu..

At 25 I’m a movie star.

And mum..?

(Laughs) She was a nervous wreck before the release, now she’s euphoric. Avantika and she are handling the attention better than I can. We don’t have a landline, thank god, but I have to put the ringer off when I sleep. Even at 1.30 am there’s someone calling to say they liked

Jaane Tu.. <b4>

Karan Johar wants you in his next movie?

He messaged to say he liked the film but there hasn’t been any offer.

And Vidhu Vinod Chopra and Rajkumar Hirani?

We haven’t even met. I’m haven’t heard any script yet. My next step is


which releases in September.

Supposedly, your role in the film is being increased.

We’ve finished dubbing for it and are close to the final edit. Sanjay (Gadhvi) wouldn’t risk tampering with the script at this stage and if I were asked I’d refuse. Sanjay’s finessed some of the rough edges. Hopefully, this time I won’t cringe.