May 31, 2010

Lover boy

Imran Khan on the importance of IHLS and why he actually hates typical love stories

Last time we spoke at the time of the release of Luck, you had assured your fans that I Hate Luv Storys will bring back the Imran they loved, the Imran of Jaane Tu... Ya Jaane Na...

I do feel very good about I Hate Luv Storys but actually it’s not the same guy from Jaane Tu... The general sweetness that is there is carried over. The guy is still likeable but he is a bit of a player. He is also kind of a slacker and not averse to lying. He will make up elaborate lies which Jai of Jaane Tu... will never dream of doing.

IHLS is a Karan Johar production. Is it more the KJo of his early days or the KJo of recent years?

The last few films that Karan has produced, have been very different from his trademark style. IHLS is very definitely a step back towards that style. Karan had made his mark with Kuch Kuch... and the defining characteristic of that film was that it was cool. So IHLS is the new cool. Obviously the definition of cool has changed... the waist size is different and the fit of the clothes is different.

What does debutant director Punit Malhotra bring on board?

He is actually the guy who has made the film closer to reality and kind of taken away some of that gloss. The standard gloss that you expect from a Dharma film that is there. But Punit has been careful about grounding the film and the characters in reality. Just to give you an example, when Manish Malhotra would bring the costumes, Punit (Manish’s nephew) would say, don’t iron them; dirty them up and repeat the same costumes three different times in the film. That’s the kind of balance Punit brought, which I appreciate. So we had a scenario where Punit and I were on one side and poor guy Manish was often traumatised by us!

How real is the world of Bollywood as shown in I Hate Luv Storys?

It’s not as grounded in reality as a Luck By Chance. Anyone from the film industry watches LBC, that’s exactly how the film industry is. In this one, we have given it a slightly more entertaining feel. That basic element of realism is there but the volume is turned up on.

You play an assistant director in the film. You must have worked as a production assistant in film school. Did you use those bits of experience?

After I graduated from film school in LA, I worked as a camera operator on a TV show. Honestly I couldn’t bring a lot from that to this film. Whatever I have used in IHLS is mostly from Punit’s life. He has been an assistant director for six-seven years, starting with Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham all the way through Kal Ho Naa Ho and Dostana. He’s worked on My Name is Khan also. So, he’s brought a lot of personal insights and experiences into it.

But do you hate Bollywood love stories like your character in the film?

For me, I can relate to a lot of what the character says. My take on romantic films is that I like to watch something closer to reality. A lot of the romantic films that we make or even Hollywood makes, give us a very warped idea of love, this perfect concept of love, which I don’t really think exists. For me, something like Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind gives us a more realistic idea of what love is. There is no perfect love story. There are no perfect people. You love them anyway despite the fact that they are imperfect.

So you don’t like any of the Yash Raj or Dharma love stories that have been spoofed in IHLS?

I love Dilwale (Dulhania Le Jayenge). In fact, we have borrowed a lot from the Yash Raj and Dharma library. All said and done, we enjoyed some of these love stories. I loved DDLJ... I loved Maine Pyar Kiya.

Was it weird to get into those costumes and do parody versions of those films?

That was really weird, really weird. There’s that one song where we have acknowledged those famous films. The first day of the shooting of that song, I was like, what are we doing here? It felt very weird. Then you realise that if you are doing it half-measure, it was never going to look quite right. So I went the whole hog. I had to. There was no other way we could sell it.

Bollywood in the coming years would revolve a lot around you, Ranbir Kapoor, Deepika Padukone and Sonam Kapoor. That does make IHLS an important film as to how you and Sonam look together. Would you agree?

Yes, I would be inclined to agree. Because it’s me and Sonam and also the fact that it’s produced by Dharma Productions does make IHLS an important film and I am sure there will be a lot of expectations.

Personally what was it like working with Sonam?

I enjoyed it. I really liked her in Saawariya and so I wanted to work with her. There were scripts which had come up in the interim that she didn’t like or I hadn’t liked. This was the first project that both of us read and I knew her well enough to call her up and ask what she thought of it. She had read the script before me. And she said, I liked it, I am on. I met Punit a couple of days after that and I liked the script too.

That both Kidnap and Luck didn’t work and you have to depend on a rom com to bail you out, does that bother you?

Not really. Long before Luck released, I was feeling a little angsty. I spent the last two films in a darker grittier action zone. Honestly the kind of fun you can have with a romantic comedy, you can’t quite do that in other films. The interplay with the dialogue and all that stuff. So I was feeling like doing something lighter anyway. It’s not like I did IHLS because Luck and Kidnap didn’t work. I was more like I have had enough of this darkness, let me try something light. It’s more of a creative decision. The way to approach it is how you are feeling like at any given time. Whatever the script maybe if you are not in that space, you won’t be doing justice to it.

How do you feel that in the same time period Ranbir has scored two hits in Wake Up Sid and Ajab Prem Ki Ghazab Kahani?

I don’t think it’s only about Ranbir and me. There are more good actors and more stars. If there’s a position where there’s only one star and everybody else is secondary, then we are in trouble... the industry would not have enough movies. Even the way Hollywood functions — in the category of an A-list leading man, you will have no less than 15 or 20 options. And here we are struggling to reach double digits. The idea of competition doesn’t really make sense to me. How many films will Ranbir do in a year? Three? Four? Then you add me to the mix. Let me do four films. That makes it eight films. We make more than eight films every year.

Are the two of you friends?

(A little pause) We are friendly. I have only met in the time post the release of our films. Prior to that, he was actually a year senior to me in school but I didn’t really know him because of that one-year age gap. Yes, we have become friendly but I can’t say that we know each other well enough to be best friends. We have a mutual liking and respect for one another but this concept of competition has neither entered his head nor mine.

Pratim D. Gupta