Certified Bollywood cutie Imran Khan is in zombie mode. After a "killer week" of globe-trotting from Delhi to Mumbai to London to New York and then back to Mumbai to peddle his latest romantic comedy, Break Ke Baad (BKB), Khan warns us that his jet-lag may stand in the way of cohesive responses.
Despite his weary tone, tabloid! decided to go straight for the jugular. Was the news of his impending marriage to his long-time sweetheart Avantika Malik a clever publicity gimmick orchestrated to turn up the heat on Break Ke Baad?
No sooner had we popped the question than the I Hate Luv Storys star perked up.
"No, it's not a publicity gimmick. We are getting married in January and it just so happened that our decision to tie the knot happened to tie in with the release. It became a popular story just because people chose to draw parallels between me and my character in my film, who is a serious, committed guy," says Khan, who plays one-woman man Abhay Gulati in BKB.
He also insists that the film — co-starring Deepika Padukone as his lover, Aaliya — can stand on its own merit.
"Come on, rom-coms are a genre in Hindi films that have always worked. Even fifty years later, I am confident that people will love this film because its characters are relatable. We have tried to keep it as real as possible — the break-up, the process of rekindling the relationship, finding each other. It's not a larger-than-life Bollywood film."
The four-films-old actor, 27, adds that the success of his recent hit I Hate Luv Storys, where he played a cynical commitment-phobe, has strengthened this belief. After a stellar debut in the 2008 romance Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na, Khan's attempt to re-invent himself as an action-hero in Kidnap and Luck failed miserably.
It was obvious that playing the quintessential lover boy works for him.
"I Hate [Luv Storys] was a huge relief for me, because the hit came at a crucial time in my career. I needed one badly. I think my stress level would have hit the roof by now otherwise."
He may have managed to keep his stress under control, but while shooting for BKB there was one scene that made him particularly jittery. If you haven't guessed it already, the nephew of Bollywood star Aamir Khan is referring to the endearing peck-on-the-lips scene that he shares with Padukone. Yes, Bollywood has decided to grow up and graduate from symbolic mating signs like two birds pecking at one another or the rattling of bushes.
"It was not one of those full-on kisses and I didn't expect it to be such a big deal. But honestly, it was a bit odd, because we shot that scene within the first two weeks of knowing one another. We weren't quite that comfortable. It was really awkward, but I am glad it looks all right on screen."
‘No glorified prop'
The initial awkwardness with Padukone soon gave way to camaraderie and respect. "I had a great time working with her. I love her approach towards her work. I am one of those actors who feed off the performance of their co-star.
The Om Shanti Om star, whose high-profile break-up with Bollywood royalty Ranbir Kapoor was monitored closely, may speak openly about her role but clams up when you ask her about her personal life. Rumour has it that she is currently dating Indian billionaire Siddharth Mallya.
"They can speculate all they want, but I am not admitting to anything," says Padukone. But she adds that the dynamics of modern-day relationships in India are changing.
"There are no formulas to a successful relationship these days. It's no longer about who is taller than whom. It has nothing to do with the looks either. It's all about the couple's wavelength now.
"Also, the more complicated you make a relationship, the more likely you are going to fail. It's as simple or as complicated as the couple makes it to be."
Confused about this rather verbose relationship mantra? You are not alone. In contrast, her take on break-ups and how different people deal with them is less complicated. Without naming her ex-flame or her current flavour, she says every girl is armed with a unique process of gaining closure after a nasty break-up.
"Everyone comes up with a process of getting out of relationships. I mean, different people deal with break-ups differently. Some get into a rebound relationship, some just get into this non-stop partying or drinking mode or some get depressed and some people immerse themselves in work."
And if we may indulge in a bit of speculation, it will be safe to deduct that Padukone chose the latter option to get over her break up with Bollywood heart-throb Kapoor. By the end of the year, she will have rolled out as many as five 2010 releases. Close on the heels of BKB's premiere tonight, she will release her period drama Khelein Hum Jee Jaan Se on December 3.
"This is not something I plan to repeat, because I don't want to be over-exposed or get burnt out quickly," she says about her jam-packed release roster. But being over-worked didn't stand in the way of having fun during her and Khan's month-long outdoor shoot in Mauritius and Delhi.
"I don't know how we did it, but we worked hard but partied harder," says Khan. "And since it's such a young film, the chemistry between all of us just translated well on screen.
"Every couple out there will be able to relate to the film."
Did you know?
- Deepika Padukone is a die-hard chick flick fan. Her favourite chick flicks include P. S. I Love You, Vicky Cristina Barcelona and Love Actually.
- Imran Khan will head to Dubai for every film if BKB becomes a hit. According to him, both I Hate Love Storys and Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na worked wonders at the box-office after he promoted them in Dubai. "The first two times could be a lucky coincidence. But if BKB is a hit, then I might start to believe that Dubai is one lucky place for me."
- To cut costs, producer Kunal Kohli chose Mauritius as the outdoor location for the scenes set in Australia.
Khan's break-up mantra:
"There is nothing called an amicable break-up. Either the girl or the boy gets hurt. Try not to scream and throw things at each other."
His best break-up formula:
"Be as honest as possible. Don't try to sugar-coat situations."
Don't Miss it
Break Ke Baad is released in cinemas across the UAE Thursday.