Imran Khan’s been gradually progressing into the league of actors who can transform themselves on screen, no matter how difficult or different the role.
Till now Imran has had the image of being a chocolate hero (notwithstanding Delhi Belly), but director Vishal Bharadwaj has taken the risk of casting him as a Haryanvi — rustic clothes, unkempt appearance, authentic dialect et al in Matru Ki Bijlee Ka Mandola.
Here Imran tells us about his out of the world experience while acting in the movie and his sparkling on screen chemistry with buddy Anushka Sharma.
Were you unsure of working in Matru Ki Bijlee Ka Mandola? Vishal says you were scared during the script narration?
This has definitely been the toughest role of my career so far. While the challenge was exciting, it was also quite scary because once again, you’re wondering if you can live up to expectations, whether you can play the character at that level or not.
Vishal has the ability to change his actors completely; what was your experience?
Vishal’s method is incredibly empowering for actors. The amount of freedom and responsibility that he gave me in this film was unprecedented. I have never got that from any other director. I felt that a director like him would tell me how to do every single thing, but it was the exact opposite. Every single time, before a scene, he would ask me what I wanted to do or how I felt about a certain situation or what I thought was best for the scene… That level of responsibility in your work, in your performance and that degree of self-control and power, no director has ever given me.
Your chemistry with Anushka Sharma is infectious on screen. How did that come about?
It’s not about what we share in common; it’s about what your co-actor is like. The best example I can give you is to talk about a scene and how we went about it like playing a game of tennis. I hit the ball, she hits it back and the volleys continue. If she hits it incorrectly or misses, then one of us has to stop. When the two of us have a good rhythm going with the volleys going back and forth, that’s what makes for chemistry in the scene.
Are you anything like Matru or would like to have his qualities?
What I found very exciting and attractive about this character Matru is that on the surface, people see this rustic character. But the fact is that he is an educated guy who is born in a Haryana village but travels to Delhi.
He is a lawyer who speaks English and is worldly-wise. However, he is a guy who has made a conscious decision to move back to his village because he wants to be a part of his culture, society and improve conditions there.
More than a social message, it’s a character with a social concept but now whether one takes a message from him is up to the audience. The character is more grounded and rooted than the characters that we normally see.
And what about Gulabo?
I don’t think people know what to expect from Gulabo, a pink buffalo. But it’s a relevant part of the story and integral to take it further.