Excerpts from the interview:
Your look in 'Matru Ki Bijlee Ka Mandola' has been the talk of the town. Tell us about the transformation of the romantic hero to the Jat hero of Matru?
Imran: It is the toughest thing that I have done and it was very, very scary because here you are entering a world that you don't know anything about. I have never travelled to Haryana, I have never met anyone from Haryana, I don't know the language and suddenly you have to bring this character to life and it's a character that you know nothing about. So starting with the dialogue that Vishal has written, you start to build a little bit up from there; but then there's an accent, there's a particular speech pattern, there is kind of voice modulation that is inherent to people from Haryana- all of these are extra things that you have to learn. You have to learn a new way to stand, a new way to sit and your body language has to change. It's hard for you to imagine how you would do it, how you would learn something like that but it's invaluable because the moment you see something false, you would know it.
How is Bijlee different from the other characters you have played?
Anushka: Bijlee is a far more complex character than the ones that I have played so far. There are many, many layers to this character; in fact, it took me some time to understand that. I thought her character was very linear, it was while we started working on the film, doing the readings, I started to discover more and more about the character. She is one character in the film whose journey is constantly changing through the course of the film. She is far more complex and a bit eccentric. All the characters that I have played are actually sorted girls but this one is not sorted at all, she is far from it.
How was it working with Vishal Bharadwaj? Were you under a lot of pressure?
Imran: It was easier than expected, strangely. I had a certain expectation in my head that being a guy who makes a very particular kind of film and being such an experienced director, I felt that he would micromanage us and tell you every last detail and he would be very controlling. And he has actually given me more freedom than any director that I have worked with. He was so open, so free-flowing, his process is really about empowering the actor. He gives you everything that you need, all the tools that you need to do the job and then he leaves the responsibility up to you. So, he will not tell you how to sit, where the camera will be, he will say you do the scene and we will capture it somehow, we will move the camera, we will adapt to you.Anushka: Initially I was a bit tentative before I got on set. When you are working with somebody like Vishal Bharadwaj, it is different. He makes films of a certain kind; his world is very different from the kind of movies that I have been a part of. I was just worried whether I will be able to fit in to his scheme of things and the way he functions. He has a very unique way of working; you would imagine that Vishal Bharadwaj being the director that he is, he will micromanage everything. He will preset the frame and you just go and blurt your dialogues out there and you are done but that is not how he is. In fact, he gives you a lot of freedom as actors to play with your character, to play with the scene, to change it if you want. In fact, he would keep telling me that lines can be written, don't go by the lines, you say how you are saying it, if it seems right, you should continue speaking like that. You know, he is someone who listens to your suggestion, there is no ego that you cannot argue with him, he always listens. He was a very open director and that is very nice because as an actor I need space because if something has to be done in exactly a certain way, then I get very stressed out and in the bargain end up spoiling everything.
This is the first time both of you are working with each other. How was the experience?
Imran: I found Anushka to be tremendously easy to make friends with and that stems from the fact that she doesn't take herself too seriously. She is very good at her work but she doesn't take herself seriously. I have been around and I have seen actors who take what they do so seriously that it becomes a massive process and it's very difficult to work with someone like that. Anushka is very uncomplicated in her work.
Anushka: I knew it wouldn't be tough working with him because there wasn't anything negative, I have never heard anything bad about Imran. He is a very decent guy, he is very nice to work with but what I discovered about Imran is that he is extremely intelligent. Imran has a great sense of humour. (Imran adds that she is the first co-star who has appreciated his sense of humor).
You have 'Peekay' coming up with Aamir Khan. Did Imran have any advice for you?
No advice really but Imran talks about Aamir a lot and I have spoken to him about the role. I have grown up watching Aamir's films and I wanted to know more about Mr Perfectionist.
While the two of them got ready to leave for the mall visit, I realized Matru and Bijlee are all set to strike.