Creature, his Bollywood debut film tanked at the box office last year. Now Pakistani actor Imran Abbas is back with Muzaffar Ali’s comeback film, Jaanisar, set in 1877. Calling it his dream role, Imran says, “When I met Muzaffar Ali sir during the shoot of Creature, I knew that I shouldn’t let this opportunity go. This story is about how my character — Prince Ameer — transforms from a lover to a krantikari.”
The actor’s love interest in the film, Noor, is being played by Pernia Qureshi, who’s making her debut in Bollywood. Imran admits he had some apprehensions about her acting skills as she’s known to be a fashionista. “But I was blown away by her brilliant dancing skills. Her character is strong and Pernia just imbibed it within herself. We also have a good chemistry on-screen,” he says.
Is it imperative for Jaanisar to perform well at the box office? “I don’t think about the box office, while choosing films. Sometimes, you do films that steal hearts and Jaanisar is a timeless love story,” he says. Jaanisar’s release date was changed to August 7 at the last minute, resulting in less time for promotions. “More time would have helped. But all said and done, everyone is aware that Muzaffar Ali sir is making a film after over 30 years, the ones who want to watch will come anyway,” he says. Imran was also offered Aashiqui 2 and Goliyon Ki Raasleela Ram Leela, which he couldn’t do. Any regrets? “I have strong regrets for missing out on Aashiqui 2. I couldn’t do these films because of contractual obligations, otherwise who wouldn’t want to do Ram Leela?” he says.
Imran is good friends with his fellow Pakistani actors, Ali Zafar and Fawad Khan. “Ali and I had studied together in college, so we have a strong bond. I have worked with Fawad in a Pakistani TV show so there’s certainly no professional rivalry or jealousy as such. Due to our hectic schedules, we don’t get time to catch up,” Imran says.
Fawad is known to do films of a certain genre, as he wants to refrain from offending the Pakistani audience’s sensibilities. Does he also keep that in mind? “I know my limitations and standards. I wouldn’t do a film that is offensive to me. See, Pakistani and Indian audiences enjoy the same kind of cinema at the end of the day. Both audiences are emotional and sensitive. If Fawad was liked in Pakistan, he was appreciated in India too and vice versa. Salman Khan, Rahat Fateh Ali Khan, Mehdi Hassan saab — yeh aapke bhi hain aur hamare bhi,” he says.
Imran doesn’t like socialising and admits that he can’t make new friends easily. Is he in touch with Bipasha Basu, his co-star in Creature? “She’s on my BlackBerry so we text once in a while. Pernia’s a friend now,” he says. Imran comes across as a Zen-like person. “I don’t lead the typical starry life. When I am home, my phone’s switched off. I have an organic farm. I live in my own world,” he says. Is he not ambitious? “I want a decent lifestyle. But I don’t get too involved in making more money... I’d rather donate all my wealth to an orphanage or a hospital when I die,” Imran says.