One of the most anticipated flicks this season is teeny-bopper love story Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na (JTYJN) directed by Abbas Tyrewala.

The film, produced by Bollywood star Aamir Khan (known worldwide for his inspiring turn in Oscar-nominated cricket epic Lagaan), marks the debut of Aamir's nephew Imran Khan. But was it his association with such big names that delayed Khan's arrival to our scheduled interview in Dubai?

One look at this down-to-earth, handsome young man and you immediately forgive him. “I am really sorry for the delay," he says.

“I just arrived in the morning from media interviews in London. Ever since I landed in Dubai, I haven't caught up with sleep and I was busy giving interviews non-stop. That probably made the scheduled time-slots go haywire," says Khan in a sincere apologetic tone.

Generation next

With an i-phone in one hand and the iconic James Dean on his T-shirt, every inch of Khan epitomises generation next. At the same time he is very much the friendly, boy-next-door. “I am still not nervous or excited. I suppose these emotions will probably set in one day prior to release of the film."

So is he confident? “Yes, I am confident about the film and not scared about its outcome. I am so busy with the film's promotions that I hardly had any time for such thoughts. Probably if I didn't have anything to do, I would have got some time to think and get nervous".

Khan says he never thought he would become an actor. “I never wanted to act. I always wanted to direct films and did a course at the New York Academy of Film Making.

Acting happened only because I met Abbas and fell in love with his script and my character. That forced me to become an actor," explains Khan.

So what was it about the film's script and character that made him plunge into acting?

“My character is very unlike a typical Bollywood hero. He is neither a stud nor a typical cool guy. I play Jai Singh Rathore, a simple college student and an average middle-class boy-next-door. It is the simplicity of the character that makes my role interesting and exciting. It is the journey of how the boy turns into a man it is coming of age stuff. Since the character is similar to how I am in real life, I felt Abbas knew me when he wrote the script."

On Tyrewala, who is making his directorial debut with this film, Khan says, “There was never an iota of doubt about each other's capability during the making of the film. I
doubt there was any hesitancy or nervousness during the shoot as we were always excited. It was like two guys who started their journey together having similar thoughts.
Abbas and I have come out like brothers as we spent so much time together. It is really exciting to start our careers together and I am sure Abbas will go places once the
film releases."


Judging by the film's promos Khan seems to share a crackling chemistry with actress Genelia D'Souza, who plays Aditi in the film.

“I believe onscreen chemistry cannot be created. If it's not there, it simply doesn't exist. I hit it off with her from day one, scene one. I have shared an amazing rapport with Genelia. It is such an intoxicating feeling that everyday in the morning when I wake up I couldn't wait to go to work and act with Genelia on the sets," he says excitedly.

Apparently, Aamir didn't plan to launch his nephew. He only stepped in when the film's original producer, Jhamu Sughand, changed his mind. Khan explains, “Aamir mamu
[uncle] does not believe in launches. His basis is to make a sensible film and make actors fit into the characters. When things didn't work out with Jhamu Sughand, Abbas and I approached Aamir to produce the film. As soon as he heard Abbas's script he agreed to produce the film and that is how he came onto the scene."


So do Aamir's acting skills influence him? “As a kid I loved Aamir mamu's films simply because he was my uncle. As I grew up I realised my uncle's range as an actor and
watched him grow as an actor. If there is one quality that I want to inherit from my uncle, it has to be his integrity towards his work. His commitment is impeccable. Probably
that is why he has achieved so much."

So which Aamir film had the biggest impact on the young actor?

“It is definitely Rang De Basanti. I was simply bowled over by his performance and the film was amazing overall."

Generally debutants try to hide their personal relationships until their film's release, but not Khan. He was seen a number of times in public with girlfriend Avantika.

“I do not feel being single or not has any effect on my work. What matters is the quality of my film and performance. I think it is disrespectful to my girlfriend if I have to pretend that
she is not my girlfriend just for the sake of my career."

JTYJN's tagline is “So when do you know it's love?" So I ask when he knew it was love in his real life. Imran blushes and responds, “I don't think there was one particular moment because my relationship with Avantika grew over a period of six years. The relationship just kept developing until we realised that we love each other."

Imran Khan doesn't want to call Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na his launch vehicle. “Please, don't look at it as my launch vehicle; Abbas (Tyrewala) didn't want to make a hero-heroine-oriented film. He took a lot of care to ensure that my co-stars are not relegated to side roles, you know," Khan said.

Apart from Khan, the film also stars Genelia D'Souza, Manjari Fadnis, Ratna Pathak, Arbaaz Khan, Sohail Khan, Paresh Rawal, Naseeruddin Shah and Anuradha Patel. The romance saga, releasing this week, also marks the directorial debut of Bollywood scriptwriter Abbas Tyrewala.

Talking about the film, made with a campus backdrop, he said that it was a film made by young people for young people.

“We made this film keeping in mind that young people should connect with it. The older crowd will get nostalgic... their first crushes, their first break-ups."

Asked about his expectations from the film, he said, “I don't have expectations, just hopes. We made a film from our heart, a purely light-hearted film, which we hope people will come and watch. I hope the film touches the viewers' hearts. Please don't watch the film from an intellectual's perspective."

Abbas Tyrewala, the talented screenplay and dialogue writer of films such as Asoka, Munnabhai MBBS, Main Hoon Na, Maqbool and Salaam Namaste, is making his directorial debut with Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na (JTYJN). He shares his emotions with tabloid! ahead of the release of JTYJN in the UAE.

What made you opt for a candy floss love story set on campus?

I had few scripts ready when I wanted to direct my first film. But I chose to direct JTYJN first as I found the script to be viewer-friendly. It was kind of film that you could see having good commercial prospect with good story, lots of fun and excitement, which any producer would be willing to fund. Moreover, I didn't want to spend too much time convincing producers with an offbeat script.

But despite opting for a viewer-friendly subject you had to wait for at least two to three years before JTYJN was completed. What was the reason for the delay?

True, the film did get delayed and it was such a frustrating period. In spite of planning everything in advance, I had to wait for a year for the project to take off because my previous producer Jhamu Sughand could not make the film for various reasons.

How easy was it for you to rope in Aamir Khan as a producer considering he is very picky about his name being associated with any project?

It was actually very easy. It took one narration of the script to convince him about the film. He told me that he wanted the film to be made exactly the way I narrated it and not to change it. He knew that Imran was already part of this project and once he agreed to produce the film he never looked back.

Did you ever feel the pressure of having Aamir, his cousin Mansoor, another accomplished director, and Kiran Rao (Aamir's wife) on your sets and probably influencing your
directorial abilities?

Aamir never came on the sets because he was busy directing Taare Zameen Par. Kiran visited the sets only a few times as she played a huge role in pre-production —
taking care of the film's budget and scheduling the entire resources. The only person on the sets was Mansoor Khan and that wasn't a pressure at all because having someone like him on the sets gives you the extra confidence. He is one of the India's best directors and he guided me. So it was indeed a blessing to have him around.

How satisfied are you with Imran and Genelia D'Souza's performances?

I think Imran is perfect as Jai Singh Rathore because he simply had to be himself. Just like his character he is easy, likeable and sweet person in real life. He has slipped
into the character so well that the audience, after watching JTYJN, will identify him as Jai Rathore.

Genelia has done a couple of films before but audience never got a chance to see how fantastic she is as an actress. When I auditioned her for the role of Aditi, she was totally livewire on the screen. For a while, I delayed casting her because I wanted a newcomer for this film but no one came close to Genelia.

What do you have to say about JTYJN's amazing tunes composed by A.R. Rahman?

I always wanted to work with A.R. Rahman and I fulfilled this dream with this film. We wanted young and fresh music and Rahman surpassed our expectations. When we recorded the first track, Aditi, we knew that we had a winner. I was confident that irrespective of whether the film clicks or not, the music will definitely be appreciated.

Finally, could you share your first shot as a director or any other memorable moment during the making of this film?

Well, I can't forget my first shot as my entire family was there along with Imran's family. My parents blessed my film, which was a special feeling. The entire filmmaking experience is an amazing journey. It's a special film as I met my life partner, Pakhi. I got married to her during the making of this film.