The best things about Imran Khan besides his irresistible looks — his smarts and quick wit — will be on display in his next film, “Ek Main Aur Ekk Tu,” which opens Feb. 10. Directed by debutant Shakun Batra, the UTV romantic comedy finds 26-year-old Las Vegas architect Rahul Kapoor (Khan) unexpectedly unemployed. Fearful of his parents’ reaction, he concocts a scheme to keep the truth from them.
But when he meets Raina Braganza (Kareena Kapoor) and gets married to her after a night of booze-soaked revelry, he finds he has an even bigger secret to hide from his family.
Khan spoke to India-West last week from New York, the latest stop on his whirlwind global promotional tour for the film.
Q: According to the trailer, the film seems to be very dialogue-heavy and it looks like it has a lot of banter.
A: Shakun is a first time director but he’s very Woody Allen-inspired. He and Wes Anderson, these are guys he really looks up to. Films like “The Royal Tenenbaums,” “500 Days of Summer,” “Garden State,” “Annie Hall” — these were all used as reference. There’s a lot of walkie-talkie, it’s more of a dialogue- and character-driven film than a plot-driven film.
Q: You seem to be sort of a natural for that style of film.
A: I love it. For me, there is something about the new generation of actors and directors and writers in the Hindi film industry. We tend to watch a lot of the slightly offbeat stuff coming out of Hollywood, and for me, I especially liked Aaron Sorkin before he was cool. I remember watching “Sports Night” when I was in high school in the States [Khan attended Fremont High School in the San Francisco Bay Area]. You watch this, you watch David Mamet, and you see how dialogue can carry a scene, even if it’s irrelevant, like the talk about the foot massage in “Pulp Fiction”! It’s inane conversation, but it’s gripping because of how sharply, and how well, it’s written. I put a lot of weight on that.
Q: You are talking about the new generation, and of course “Delhi Belly” was important in that way, regarding pushing the boundaries of what is acceptable or tasteful. When I see the trailer of “Ek Main” I see a lot of drinking.
A: Funny enough, the drinking wasn’t what caused any problems with the censors, but there are a couple of scenes. She says “You have a pretty good bum,” and the censors had us remove that scene from the trailer. There is another scene in the trailer where the lawyer is asking us, “Have you had sex?” and I say no and she says yes, and “No, wait, not with him.” They didn’t like the use of the word “sex” and they also didn’t like the implication that this girl has had sex with someone who’s not her husband — weird stuff like that.
Q: Are you a fan of Las Vegas?
A: I’d never been a fan before I went to shoot the film, and to be honest, most of the things don’t appeal to me. I’ve never had any interest in gambling, I hate nightclubs. What I enjoyed in Vegas was the shows. I saw every Cirque du Soleil show that I could.
Q: I’m curious about the numerology and spelling of “Ek Main Aur Ekk Tu.” Is the title spelled that way because a numerologist told the producers to do it?
A: Yeah, it’s a numerology thing. I had no involvement with that. I think it’s a crock. (laughs)
Q: Tell me more about this film and the way it’s different from other Hindi films.
A: Apart from it being a character-driven film, generally our films have an overarching, grandiose plot, with a huge obstacle that must be overcome. In this case, it’s not much of an obstacle but it’s a guy’s journey of self-discovery, figuring out who he wants to be. There’s that, and there’s the relationship between these two — it’s not the kind of rom-com you expect from the trailer. The relationship between this boy and girl, the way it’s developed over the course of the film, and where we actually leave it by the time the film ends, is very unusual in a Hindi film context. Most Indian rom-coms have a predictable relationship graph. You know how the boy and girl’s relationship is going to develop and where it’s going to end up. The relationship in this film develops differently. If you are looking at a family audience or an older audience, it might not go down very well. But for a younger audience, they will find it very relatable, very fresh, very modern.
Q: It’s not a remake of a Hollywood film, is it?
A: No, there’s been a lot of buzz about “What Happens in Vegas,” but that was ultimately about a guy and girl who get married and spend the rest of the film trying to con each other out of a jackpot. This is different.
Q: You were talking about independent Hollywood filmmakers and I wonder if you’ve seen anything lately that you liked.
A: I’ve missed so many movies in the past few months, but I have been itching to see “Drive.” That’s on my must-watch list.
Q: How is your “Ek Main Aur Ekk Tu” video travelogue going?
A: The travelogue is on UTV Motion Pictures’ channel on YouTube. It’s been pretty cool: I shoot stuff on a Flip video and another camera so that we can intercut between the two POVs [points of view]. Stuff of me in Bombay on the way to the airport, getting stuck in traffic, like that.
Q: Getting your bags lost at Dubai Airport …
A: Getting my bags STOLEN. It was an honest mistake, but the airline was not helpful. They told me, “We know who the guy is, because you’ve got his bags, and his name is on there. We know where he is. But if we contact him, it constitutes ‘tracking’ him, which is an invasion of his privacy.” I said, “But you know who he is and where he is!” “Yes sir, but we have to wait for him to contact us.”
Q: I hope you tweet that and don’t hold back.
A: I’m not on Twitter anymore, so I put it on YouTube. I had to go out and find new clothes and new underwear and stuff.
Q: Sorry about that!
A: Ehhh, it happens.