Imran Khan is back with Break Ke Baad, a film the actor describes as "a young, urban love story". Helmed by debut director Danish Aslam, the project sees Imran paired opposite Deepika Padukone for the first time, in a production that has been shot in Delhi, Mumbai and Mauritius. Steven Baker went head to head with the actor to talk all things Break Ke Baad, including the reason he originally turned the part down, why the 27-year-old does not accept he is a star, and how Deepika has left an impression on him.
How does it feel to be releasing your fifth film Break Ke Baad? Do you feel like a bankable star?
Tell us about your character (Abhay Gulati) in the film...
If you see the promos, it is a young, urban love story about a boy and a girl who have been dating for a really long time. The characters are about twenty-three or twenty-four years old and they have been dating since they were about fifteen or sixteen. Within the first twenty minutes of the film, you see them break up and see what happens after they break up – what their journey is, who they become, what they learn. My character is a guy who is not a very ambitious person he doesn't know what to do in life or what kind of career he wants. The only thing he is clear about is that he loves this one girl and he wants to be with her. The girl however, is very ambitious and career minded, and this is what leads to them splitting up. She goes to Australia, and after some time he realises he has to get this girl back and follows her there. In the process of trying to get her back he learns what he wants to do in his own life.
It sounds a bit like Love Aaj Kal. Perhaps a touch of Wake Up Sid also?
Yes there are elements of both of them you are right. Love Aaj Kal for the break-up angle and Wake Up Sid for the fact of the guy who doesn't know what to do in life. At its core, more than that, Break Ke Baad is a love story. It's a film that celebrates the concept of being in love. The guy is a classic old fashioned hero who will do anything for the girl he loves and follow her to the end of the earth.
So quite different to your role in your last release I Hate Luv Storys?
Very different, absolutely. That guy was a player, he was quite shameless.
It seems as if your audience wants to see Imran Khan only in the type of romantic hero role you mentioned. When you have done other types of film they appear to have been less accepted.
Yes you are right about that. Though I wouldn't blame it on an audiences expectation, but on the quality of a film. I feel that if a film has not worked, you can't argue with that. If it has not worked it has not worked.
How was it working with Deepika Padukone for the first time?
I have got to know Deepika over the course of making the film. She has really impressed me personally and professionally. She is someone who really cares about her work and puts in a lot of effort and is very concerned with improving herself and becoming a better actor. These are the kind of people you want to work with, people who care that much. On a personal level she is very humble and down-to-earth and I would say that she has become a very dear friend to me, possibly more than any of my other co-stars.
When director Danish Aslam narrated the film did you accept it immediately?
No, when I first heard the narration I said no to it. I liked the first half but felt the second half was not working. I then went on and signed I Hate Luv Storys. I had shot for nearly a month when I bumped into Danish again and he said he had reworked the script. I took it from him again and he had dramatically changed the second half and it was really good. I called him up the very next day and said 'Listen, it's awesome I am on'.
Has the content of the film been influenced at all by the producer Kunal Kohli?
Not at all. It is very much Danish's film. Kunal has been an extraordinary producer and being a successful director himself, I can imagine that there might have been some expectations from people that he might shape it to his taste, but he never did that. Danish has made the film exactly the way he wanted it and the way he saw it, and I would really commend Kunal for that.
What is your favourite song in the film?
The Break Ke Baad album is not your normal commercial Hindi film music. It is a little off-kilter. The album itself has a modern rock sound, a little bit like Jason Mraz. There's an English track in there called 'Don't Worry About Me' which I really like. The response has been good, and for me, that is the track that I really like.
Will we see any more choreographed moves like ' Pappu Can't Dance'?
Most of the songs are in the background. But there's one song called 'Dooriyan' which is the only lip-synch song in the film, which has a dance and where we are actually singing. It is an awesome track. It was the last song that we recorded for the film and the last that we shot. It has come out really well.
Since making her Hindi cinema debut opposite Shah Rukh Khan in Om ShantI Om, Deepika Padukone is the outsider who has risen to become one of today's leading heroines. The 24-year-old star jetted into London on Monday on an 8-hour flying visit to promote new release Break Ke Baad. The Kunal Kohli-produced film sees Deepika share screen space with Imran Khan in a coming-of-age drama about what happens once a relationship ends. The model-turned-actor spoke to Steven Baker about working with Imran, why she still feels like a newcomer, and her plans to do a stage show with SRK.
You have had hits with romantic, peppy films like Love Aaj Kal and Bachna Ae Haseeno; now you are back with Break Ke Baad. Is this your niche in Bollywood?
I don't want to be typecast as a heroine who does a certain kind of cinema, which is why I experiment with the type of films that I do. But yes, I won't deny that romantic love stories or romantic comedies are what I enjoy doing the most, because as an audience those are the kind of films that I like watching.
Are there similarities between you and your character Aaliya Khan in the film?
In a lot of ways yes, and in a lot of ways no, Aaliya is very ambitious and wants to achieve a lot for herself, which I identify with. But she is also someone who sacrifices her relationship, and doesn't believe in love or marriage, and those are things I don't connect with.
After appearing with senior actors like Shah Rukh Khan, Saif Ali Khan and Farhan Akhtar, how is it working with a younger star like Imran Khan?
I think when I am working with some of the older actors I am in awe and I am often just trying to learn as much as I can from them. Whereas, I think with people like Imran and Ranbir, we are all in the same age group and we are all just learning. I think I am a lot more free to just discuss things, talk and to try out new ideas.
You have studied acting from Anupam Kher's 'Actor Prepares'. How did that help you when you first entered the industry?
I have absolutely no film background. I don't come from a film family and I had never been on a film set until my first film. In a lot of ways, it gave me a little information about what to expect. But at the same time, I think the best education I've had is to actually be on a film set and learn from there.
So, having worked as an actor for three years, do you feel like you are an established star, or do you still feel like a newcomer?
I still feel like a newcomer, and I hope I feel like a newcomer forever. Because I always feel that the minute you feel like you have achieved everything, then you don't enjoy your work as much. So I hope I feel like a newcomer forever.
From 'Love Mera Hit Hit' to 'Dhoom Tana', you are associated with a number of popular film songs. Are there any plans to do a stage show or world tour in the future?
I would like to. I think it is something I would like to do with Shah Rukh because I debuted with him. I mean, we all know how successful all his shows are, and some of my biggest songs are with him and Om Shanti Om. I would love to do a world tour. I love dancing and I like performing, but I want to make sure that I have a bank of songs before I do that. Also, because I am really passionate about dance I want to make sure that I have enough time to do my rehearsals and perfect it before we start performing.
How is Vishal-Shekar's music for Break Ke Baad?
It's nice. It's in a very nice indie-rock space. There are a couple of songs I like. There's a song called 'Dooriyan' which actually talks about how space in a relationship is important. There is another track 'Dhoop Ke Makaan' which is a slightly sad love song, which I really like, but at the same time it is not one of those typically slow love songs. It is the kind of music that I think everyone likes listening to these days.
You have two films releasing almost back to back... Yes, a week after Break Ke Baad I have Khelein Hum Jee Jaan Sey coming out on December 3rd, where I play a very different de-glam role.
We also hear that you are back in the UK next year for a shoot?
Yes. I have just started working on a new film called Desi Boyz. It's with John and Akshay. I have started the Bombay schedule already, and we will be shooting in London for a month in February I think.
There are also rumours that you have signed Race 2?
It is not a rumour anymore, I am doing it. I can't talk about the film right now, but yes I can confirm that I am a part of it and we start in the middle of next year.
Best known for the commercially successful Hum Tum, Fanaa and Thoda Pyaar Thoda Magic, filmmaker Kunal Kohli is back with his latest venture Break Ke Baad. The film sees Kohli taking on the role of producer for the first time, as former assistant Danish Aslam steps up to the director's chair. Steven Baker caught up with Kohli to find out more about this week's big Bollywood release, a romantic drama starring Imran Khan and Deepika Padukone.
Does it feel different to be promoting a film as a producer rather than a director?
I don't know, because honestly I don't what it is like to be a producer. I am a filmmaker and I only look at films from a director's point of view. I feel like I'm pulling a con by being a producer. I think filmmaking for me is all about making a good film. It is not about the production part of it, that's just an operational thing; so I look at films only from a director's point of view.
As a producer, how hands-on were you during the shoot?
I was in Delhi and Mauritius, but not checking if people there were doing their job. I was there to be part of the project, to have fun, to make sure everyone is happy and everything is going well. So I was a very hands-on producer, like going on recces with the director, because Danish is a first time director, and I wanted to help him wherever I felt there were a few rough edges.
Although this is the first production from Danish Aslam, you have previously worked together...
Yes. He was the first AD of mine in two films so I thought he was ready to be a director and that's how I got him involved. It is something that Yash Raj started, Karan [Johar] has even done it, and it is something I am trying to do. I think it is a natural progression, you want to create more and more films, you want to be part of more films, and that is what I am doing, because we are very greedy as filmmakers and want to do a lot.
A new Kunal Kohli release always seems very different from the last?
I love that you can't say 'What is a Kunal Kohli film?' I want to be different in every film, and have been. Mujhse Dosti Karoge, Hum Tum, Fanaa and Thoda Pyaar Thoda Magic are all completely different films. Every film's shooting style is also different, every film's locations, costumes, props. I think that is what is exciting. I never want there to be a typical Kunal Kohli film as that means I am repeating myself. I want to keep experimenting with different styles.
Would you say that your films are targeted towards the youth?
I just make a film from the heart and whoever connects with it connects with it. Fortunately for me I think all age groups have connected with my films, I have had parents connect with my films, I have had young children, people from six to eighty six have connected with my films and I am glad that is the case.
How is the music of Break Ke Baad?
We have 'Adhoore' which is a really nice track, 'Dhoop Ke Makaan' which is really good, as is 'Ajab Leher'. There's a new thought in 'Dooriyan Zaroori Hai' where we talk about distances being necessary. There are some nice tracks in Break Ke Baad so it is really hard for me to choose, but I think these four are the tracks I really like. But of course, I would do my music differently. This music is more what Danish would like, and my music would be completely different.
Your work always attracts big name stars; was it easy getting Imran Khan and Deepika Padukone on board?
I think they were convinced about the script, convinced about Danish and convinced about me as a producer, because you have to have a good script, director and producer to make a good film. I have been pretty fortunate that I have always had big names associated with my films, and I hope that continues. They ensure a wider audience and I would always want that for all my films.
We have seen young directors like Karan Johar, Tarun Mansukhani and Nikhil Advani doing cameos. Is this something that tempts you?
No, I am quite happy. The only time I will go in front of a camera is to do a reality show, or to host a show or judge an event. I wouldn't go in front of a camera for acting. In fact I have had a couple of offers from the UK to host a reality show, and that would be interesting to pursue, because I think after Shilpa Shetty there has been no other Indian that has come on a show in the UK and I think it is time for that.
Break Ke Baad releases November 26th.
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