In most of his films so far, Imran Khan has portrayed the urban, boy-next-door with much élan. However, in his latest film Matru Ki Bijlee Ka Mandola (MKBKM), Imran has gone in for a complete makeover while playing a Haryanvi character for the first time. From growing a beard, to attending theatre workshops for 2 months in Delhi, to getting the accent right, Imran seems to have challenged himself for this particular film directed by Vishal Bhardwaj. On the eve of the release of MKBKM, Imran talks to Bollywood Hungama‘s Nikhil Ramsubramaniam about the USP of the film, becoming the Haryanvi lad Matru and working with veterans like Vishal Bhardwaj and Pankaj Kapur. Read on…
Not much can be ascertained about the film from the promos, what’s it all about?
It’s a conscious decision to not reveal much. Vishalji was very clear that he wanted to prepare people for the world of the film and hence the first promo didn’t really give out much. Normally people think if it’s a Vishal Bhardwaj film it will be a dark, intense and serious film but MKBKM is a comedy, it’s a very funny film. While the film’s backdrop is one of land grabbing, the situation is treated with humour. With the kind of scams and politicians we have in this country, sometimes resorting to humour is the only reaction (smiles).
MKBKM sees you in your most drastically different look yet. What was the most challenging thing about becoming Matru?
While playing a character like Matru you can’t just memorise your lines from a piece of paper. You need to adapt a different body language, style, accent and dialect all of which plays an important part. Before starting shooting, for nearly 2 months I joined a theatre group called Act One in Delhi and worked with N.K. Sharma who is a fantastic guy. In his group I got a chance to meet and work with couple of guys who were actually from Haryana and observing them and being around them helped me a lot. I was alone in Delhi for this workshop almost 3 months. I was cut off from the entire industry and all the trappings of stardom got thrown away. It was a refreshing experience.
You’ve worked mostly with new directors of your age group, how was it working with a veteran like Vishal Bhardwaj?
It was surprisingly liberating. Vishalji gave me a degree of freedom which I frankly wasn’t expecting and have never got from anyone. He was a very hard taskmaster especially during pre-production stage. He gave me various tools- like some books to read, some videos to watch to help me get the nuances of the character right. Then of course I had to attend the theatre workshop in Delhi for almost 3 months which I just mentioned about. Once my training was done and the actual shooting began, he just told me to run wild. On set he would let his actors to run wild. He is very keen that actors improvise on the moment.
How’s been the experience pairing up with Anushka Sharma for the first time?
The great thing about Anushka is that she takes her work very seriously but doesn’t take herself that seriously. Her work is flawless but beyond work she is very easy to become friends with. She doesn’t have any issues or hang-ups. With Anushka, what you see is what you get!
Any tips that you picked up from veterans Pankaj Kapur and Shabana Azmi?
Pankaj Kapur is a powerhouse of talent. He is dramatically different as a person off-screen and as an actor on-screen. As a person, he is shy, quiet and soft spoken, as an actor he is like a volcano waiting to erupt. What I found inspiring about him is that despite being such a senior actor he still approaches every scene as though it’s his first big break in life. That dedication that he has towards his craft is admirable. I didn’t get to share screen space with Shabana Azmi.
The film has a Haryanvi setting but how much of the film was actually shot in Haryana?
We didn’t shoot in Haryana. We wanted a specific location for the film which we couldn’t find in Haryana. So we shot mostly in Rajkot and a fair amount in Chandigarh, Punjab.
What’s this whole deal about the Gulabi Bhains (Pink Buffalo) being called the film’s item girl?
I hope people are not expecting Gulabi Bhains to do an item song. The Gulabi Bhains is a relevant part of the story and actually takes the story forward. It’s not just a marketing gimmick.
MKBKM seems like a quirky, irreverent film. Sometimes films with a quirky, irreverent plot can backfire, wasn’t that a worry while making the film?
Yaar any film can backfire. That is something which you can never predict as it’s not in your control. For me, I found the story very entertaining and that’s the reason I decided to do it. The USP of the film lies in its humour. It’s a damn funny film.
You have quite a few films lined up in 2013. Tell us about your forthcoming projects
I am currently shooting for the sequel of Once Upon A Time In Mumbaai (OUATIM). We’ve finished about 50% of the film. It’s been a blast. The setting of the film is in an entirely different time period so from the language to the styling to the props one has to do complete justice to the time period. Milan is one helluva director; he is a solid director for an actor to work with and has this knack of extracting superb performances from his actors. Akshay is a remarkably chilled out guy. You don’t sense that he is a big star and that is very refreshing. Then I start Punit Malhotra’s film with Kareena sometime in March or April. It’s a nice, romantic film with a great deal of humour. After that I have Tigmanshu Dhulia’s Milan Talkies which is a classic old-school romance.
Watch Promo: Matru Ki Bijlee Ka Mandola