Imran Khan's second film Kidnap sees him move away from the usual cute 'boy next door' roles he has cornered the market in. Bollywood columnist DEVANSH PATEL reports from Mumbai on his exclusive meeting with the actor who shot to instant stardom with Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na
Q What rules are you going to set for us while we watch Kidnap?
A What rules do I set? You'll have to wait and see this one man! This is a really tricky film, in that I have to be very careful with every question that I answer because I might give something away. So much of the film relies on mystery and the audiences not knowing what's going on. It's like a minefield. Every single question you ask has to be analysed.
Q Is the battle inevitable? Drona v Kidnap and Abhishek Bachchan v Imran Khan?
A Every single Friday a film releases. There are many Fridays where three to four films are released. This comparison business is inevitable. There are going to be clashes, there will be films releasing on the same day. You make your film and promote it the best that you can and make sure that it is the best you can possible make and hope for the best. That is what is going to happen when two biggies meet on October 2.
Q Kidnap's scripting has been five years in the making. Don't you think the film is releasing a bit late?
A Two things. Firstly, it's a tremendous bonus for me. It gives me a chance and a challenge to stretch myself to the limit. Secondly, when it comes to late, I don't think so. Jaane Tu also took a long time coming together. We had a lot of problems while we were making that film. The project got stuck and then it got restarted. But in spite of that the film touched success because the product was good. We all feel the same way about Kidnap. Certainly you have to update a few things. Now, say from 2003 to 2005, a few things changed. Technology changes a little bit and you have to update those little things. But the base story of the film never changes.
Q Why did you go for a tanned look in Kidnap?
A Thanks to Vicky, my make-up artist, I looked perfectly tanned. My director Sanjay Gadhvi had a particular look in mind. He wanted me to look harder and meaner. You can see my hair cut. It's buzzed on the sides. That made my face look different, it made it look sharper, and the darker skin colour gave me a tougher look.
Q What did you learn from a 'father figure' like actor Sanjay Dutt?
A I didn't learn anything from him. He doesn't preach. If you know him at all and have tracked his career, you'll come to the conclusion that he is a guy who has walked his own path. He is very much the rebel, very much the rock star. He does it his way and the way he wants to do it. Sanju baba is not one to go around telling people how to live their lives.
Q Tell me something interesting about Sanjay Dutt.
A Here you go. We are doing a scene together and I'll sit with my dialogues for 45 minutes before I get ready. I'll march up and down the stairs, reciting my lines this way and that way. Sanju will walk on the set and the assistant director will hand over the dialogues to him. He will sit and read through it once. We then do the scene where I say my lines, and he'll say his line and look at me with such sheer intensity that I forget the rest of my lines. Such is the weight of this actor. The gravity he brings with him shocks you.
Q The cute Minissha Lamba is out and the sexy Minissha Lamba is in. What do you think?
A She is definitely sexy. But having said that, she is not a damsel in distress. There is a major confrontation scene between me and Minissha. She is very much Sanjay Dutt's daughter: she is fearless and fights back with a vengeance. Sanjay Dutt's character is a very tough and a fearless guy. Like father like daughter. She doesn't submit that easily and looks for a way out to escape, she looks for a way to hurt the kidnapper. So, yes - a tough and a sexy Minissha for the first time on screen.
Q Tell us a bit about the tattoo you sport in the film.
A That's a permanent tattoo. I got it when I was seventeen. It's just that in Jaane Tu, it didn't suit my character so we tried to cover it with make up and my costumes. That's why I was seen wearing lots of collared T-shirts in the film. The shot where you see my tattoo in the trailer was in fact the last scene we shot for the film. Sanjay Gadhvi decided to use the tattoo because he knew that it was covered and hidden in Jaane Tu. He liked the look of the tattoo and he thought that it would add to the character of the kidnapper.
Q Were you hesitant to play a kidnapper, knowing your 'chocolate boy' looks?
A I was a little hesitant to play a kidnapper. I mean, I loved the character but was a bit unsure. But at the same time I really wanted to do it. It was a tricky role and it was tough too because I couldn't find a common ground with this guy. In Jaane Tu, the guy was so much like me. I understood him very well. In Kidnap, I was fumbling and trying to hold things together. Sanjay Gadhvi helped me through this. I wouldn't have been able to do this role without his support and backing.
Q What research did you do for your character in Kidnap?
A There was no research which I could do for this character. There was a closed room on the fifth floor of the Ashtavinayak office where Minissha, Gadhvi and myself thrashed out our characters. For my own part, to find the aggression for my character, I changed the music I was listening to on my iPod. For about a year, I was only listening to metal and rock to get the darkness and the aggression.
Q Tell us about the time when you thought that Kidnap was not going to be made?
A The entire film took about 12 months of shooting time because Sanju (Sanjay Dutt) went to jail midway through and we thought the film was not going to be made. We had shot for about five months and we were in middle of one major shoot with Minissha and me when we got the news that the judgment had come out and that Sanju had been jailed. Suddenly everything stops. We didn't know what was going to happen. I am panicking as it was just my second film. It was Minissha's big film too and it was Sanjay Gadhvi's dream project. Plus the producers had made a huge investment too. So all of us were sitting there and went mute. We asked each other: what do we do? The worst thing was that there was nobody who could take Sanju's place. The only thing you could do was just sit and pray and hope that he comes out.
Q Is Kidnap a bigger burden on your shoulders than Jaane Tu?
A I wasn't nervous during Jaane Tu at all. This time I am very nervous because I don't know how I have done in my role. I have not seen the film and have only seen my parts during dubbing. I don't know if it's good and I don't know if other people will think it's good.
Q Any message for your fans in the UK who loved Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na and are eagerly waiting to see you in Kidnap?
A Do you know Jaane Tu didn't fare that well in the UK? It's hard to give a good reason why one should go and watch Kidnap because it's quite subjective. This time around I'd ask them to be kind because I'm really nervous about Kidnap. I hope it does fare better than Jaane Tu in the UK.