One is a “goody two shoes” and the other is a firebrand, who believes in speaking her mind. But when Imran Khan and Kangana Ranaut visited the HT Café office to talk about their upcoming film, Katti Batti, they seemed pretty much in sync. Accompanied by the movie’s director Nikhil Advani and co-producer Amrita Pandey, VP and Head, Marketing and Distribution, Studios, Disney India, the lead pair spoke about their chemistry, and all things Bollywood, not without a few friendly jibes targeted at each other. Here are some excerpts from the chat.
Kangana, you are probably the most politically incorrect person in the industry, and Imran, you are the exact opposite. How did the two of you get along?
Kangana: It didn’t work out (laughs). The thing is, he is boring, predictable, and is a goody two shoes to the extent that, sometimes, I feel like he has another personality, that of a criminal or a psychopath, because otherwise it’s too good to be true. This whole thing of being prim and proper is unbelievable. When I met Avantika (Malik; Imran’s wife), she told me that she doesn’t know why people think she will be insecure, because the minute he tries to tell a joke, the girl will run away. I felt if Avantika, who knows him well, says so, it must be true (laughs). Imran, I’m sorry, but I really don’t know what to say.
Are you two nervous as the release date of the film approaches, because of the expectations attached to it?
Kangana: I think there are many aspects to it. When the script was narrated to me, it wasn’t what the film is today. What we have made is far better, and that happens rarely. But when you think of other aspects, such as the people in the industry, and how they love to run people down… it’s like how during every exam you have a little bit of anxiety. Though you’re the one who has given the exam, you know what you should expect, even then it’s quite nerve-wracking. And now, I know what Imran’s answer will be. He’s like Saint Kabir, I don’t care types.
Imran: Really for me, this time it doesn’t matter. I’ve seen the film, and I know what we have. The truth is, often when I promote my films, I’ve not seen them. [This time] I’m hoping that it will work out. Many directors don’t even show you the film. There have been times when I’ve watched the film a day before the release, and I go like, “S**t!” That time I think if only I had known, I would’ve stopped the promotion nonsense, and gone on vacation for three weeks. This time, I’ve seen the film, and haven’t booked my vacation until a week after the film’s release. I’m going to hang around.
Kangana, Imran in a still from Katti Batti
Amrita, as a co-producer, why did you decide to back this story?
Amrita: It is such a layered film. People will wonder if it’s a drama, romance or a thriller. Nikhil has directed it brilliantly, and Imran and Kangana have done a fantastic job.
Kangana, how does it feel to have a movie riding on your shoulders?
Kangana: When the film is good, it does not matter how great the expectations are. After Queen (2014), Tanu Weds Manu Returns (TWMR) was filmi. I felt people might be taken aback by the masala, gimmicky film. But they loved it. When you watch Katti Batti (KB), you’ll realise that it’s so nice. KB is a love story, which begins where most romantic films end — the boy meets the girl, they fall in love, and live happily ever after. In KB, we begin where their seven-year relationship has ended, and we see if their love is strong enough to bring them back together.
Imran, you took a two-year break to be with your family when you became a father. What made you sign KB to make your comeback with?
Imran: I had actually signed KB at the end of 2013, when we learnt that Avantika (wife) was pregnant. She was due in June 2014, and Nikhil wanted to start shooting. I couldn’t have missed out on those initial months when the baby would be home or ditch Avantika during the last two months of the pregnancy. So, I asked Nikhil if he could postpone the shooting. Rather than taking a break and thinking of what film to do next, it was more like, I’m doing this film, but I’ll do it after the break.
Buzz is that KB and 500 Days Of Summer (2009) are similar. Have you heard of this?
Imran: This question keeps coming up. When I was asked this question the first time, I was taken aback. The only similarity is that the male protagonist has a break-up. There have been a couple of interviews, where allegations have been put on us, saying, ‘How can you deny it? There are clear parallels.’ And I’m like, ‘Dude! You have not even seen my film.’
How was the experience of shooting for a stop-motion video for the song ‘Lip to lip’?
Kangana: You know, actors are so used to emoting and expressing, that the minute you see yourself being used as a prop, it’s very unsettling. Even your arm is moved by the team. Honestly, I didn’t like the experience.
Imran: I think it’s a very cool technique. I was psyched about doing stop-motion photography and animation. But it is very tedious and boring to shoot for. It takes 40 minutes to move your hand inch by inch. By the end of it, I thought that it looks great and cool, but I’m never doing it again
How close are you two to your characters in the movie?
Kangana: Not much of Payal has been revealed in the promos, but she’s relatable. She has a façade of being a cool girl, who doesn’t care about relationships. She doesn’t want to show her vulnerability to the world. She is a complex character rarely seen in films. She will keep everyone guessing.
Nikhil: Ever since we were kids, we were told never judge a book by its cover. For Kangana, I’d say that what you see is not what you always get. I feel Imran was born to play this role. I have got to know him well in the last one year, and I feel he’s so much like the character in real life as well.
Imran: It was very easy for me to hook into Maddy’s character. This guy is entirely driven by love, and he believes the reason for his existence is his love for Payal. I’d like to believe that I have the same quality in me.
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With Kangana coming on board, given the great run she is having at the box office, were you apprehensive Imran?
Imran: I had signed the film without a co-star. When Kangana came on board, the success of TWMR hadn’t happened. Over the years, she has delivered consistent performances, and it’ll add to the film, so I was excited.
Are you concerned about the money a movie makes?
Kangana: When you make a film like Queen, you don’t, but with a TWMR, you know it’s made for a larger audience. KB is targeted at the urban youth. I want to be a mass actor, and I want my films to be watched in the remotest of places. But no one can predict how much a film makes.