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Aamir Khan breezes in for the interview 45 minutes late, blaming Mumbai's traffic. He's unwell, stressed out and tired. It is one of those rare times that I catch Aamir with his amiable guard down a well, almost....
Are you as nervous about Jaane Tu as your other films or more so because it's Imraan's debut?
It's very similar to what I feel when my film releases as an actor or producer. Jaane Tu is my film as a producer. Like all films, a lot of effort has gone into it. We have tried to make a good film.
You are known to ponder and ruminate over a script for months. How much time did it take for you to finalise Abbas Tyrewala's idea?
Actually, I don't take a lot of time over a script. I know immediately whether I want to do it and if it doesn't work for me in its first narration or reading, I know it's not going to work for me. I liked Abbas's film Jaane Tu instantly.
What did you like instinctively about Jaane Tu?
I found the script very fresh, pacy and humorous. I loved the way Abbas has the characters and very moving in places. It's about kids growing up and discovering what love means to them but not a dramatic love story like Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak. It's more like Dil Chahta Hai. I would have loved to have Jaane Tu as my debut film if I had the script.
Did Nuzhat (Imraan's mom) completely trust you with her son's launch?
She trusted me to take the right decisions for the film and what would be good for the film would be good for Imraan. She knows the kind of person I am.
People feel Imraan is similar to you...
People tell me that he looks and talks exactly like me. I don't see the resemblance. I can understand there would be a resemblance as we are from the same family and we have spent so much time together that there will be certain similarities.
You had hidden your marriage initially whereas Imraan is very open. Do you advise him on his personal life?
No. I don't. Also, I wasn't hesitant about talking about my personal life and marriage when I entered. In fact, I spoke about it openly. It's been 20 years since. Just before the release, my uncle (Nasir Hussain), who produced the film, called me and said 'Look, I know you're married to Reena but I don't want you to talk about it.' Those was the producer's instructions and I followed it. I personally don't feel one should hide one's personal life. I didn't feel it then and I don't feel it now.
At Jaane Tu's premiere you patched up with lot of people from Ram Gopal Varma to Akshaye Khanna. Is this your way of building bridges?
Akshaye? Not at all. He's a very close friend of mine. And no, I am not on a bridge-building spree because I don't think I need to build any bridges if I have any problems with anyone in the industry.
There was one with Ramu after Rangeela...
I did have a problem with Ramu but it wasn't something irreconcilable. I don't think I am childish enough not to have conversations with people. He's been my director and while I was uncomfortable working with him, I don't have any problems inviting him to any film I've made. I've invited a lot of people that I have worked with previously.
Amole Gupte has been talking a lot against you. Does it upset you?
I have no idea what Amole has been saying. As far as I am concerned, I am very clear about what happened. After one week of him starting work on the shooting, I didn't like his work as a director but didn't sack him. Instead I offered the script back to him as he was the writer, though it belonged to me as the producer. It's not true that I suddenly took it over from him. He told me he'd let me continue as producer and actor. The decision not to direct was taken only by him. I wasn't part of that decision so he took decision to step down.
Any plans of launching your son Junaid as an actor?
No. I have no idea as yet as to what he really wants to do and he hasn't shown any interest in films. He still has to make up his mind on that but whatever it is that he wants to do, both Reena and I will support him.
On 10 Ka Dum, Salman Khan and you were planning a sequel to Andaaz Apna Apna.
I suggested that on the spur of the moment and on my blog there have been lots of people asking why don't I do a sequel to the film? I think it's a great idea and if Raj (Santoshi) can come up with an exciting script, we can do it. It has to come from Raj as he made the original.
From being media shy today you are now media savvy. Have you really changed or is it a compromise?
There is a conscious change. It's not a compromise but a conscious decision that I wouldn't like to disconnect myself from the process. Though I wasn't happy with the way the media, it didn't mean that I should disconnect from it. I am not happy about the fact that I didn't give interviews during Rang De Basanti and Fanaa and try and communicate with my audience. I realised that by being a part of the process maybe I could help in trying to change things for the better. There were friends of mine from the media who told me not to cut off from them but be a part of the process so that I could have some amount of influence and friends of my own.
People feel that your wife Kiran is behind your new media savvy image.
No. It's a personal decision.
From having a new hairstyle at the Race premiere to cycling in on 10 Ka Dum and doing Rakhi Sawant's show today people perceive everything you do as a publicity stunt.
I don't think everyone thinks that way except some petty-minded people or people who like to attribute an agenda behind every move of mine! I guess there are some people in this world who can't believe that things can happen in a simple manner too. When Ghajini was about to resume where I had to have a shaved look that's the time I did it so. I am not timing my haircut with a film's premiere. I get invited to various events and if I shave my head and go to the event, I can't help that! If Rakhi invites me to her show and I feel 'why not?' (as I like Rakhi), what's wrong with that? I think she's very spunky and been very sweet to me.
On Salman, you said that he can't be Pappu because he can never pass an MBA exam. Was that in jest?
I crack jokes like that all the time with my friends. I can understand the channels and media sensationalising everything but I'm equally sure people can very clearly sense where I am coming from and what I am saying in jest.
Do you regret writing that blog on Shahrukh and your dog?
No, I don't. Shahrukh wasn't upset about it. I am the kind of person I am and will continue to be the person I am. A lot of my fans expressed their unhappiness over my blog and I apologised to those people who were not happy with my sense of humour. They were unhappy that someone like me would make a joke like this. There were 10 per cent of my fans who thought like that but frankly most people on my blog liked it and I am glad that they sense the same sense of humour as me and Shahrukh. He's often joked about me and I have never got offended.