"I was very surprised with his directing style. Since he is an experienced director, I was under the impression that he would sit on every single detail of my performance. But the kind of freedom he gave me, no other director has ever done," Imran told PTI in an interview.
The 29-year-old actor spent a lot of time taking dialect classes, doing workshops and meeting locals to understand the milieu of the film, which is set in the backdrop of land acquisition issue in Haryana. "Vishal would give me lot of material during the rehearsals, like things to read and watch. They were basically tools to create my character but from the day we arrived on the sets, he told me 'Go ahead, I have given all the tools to you, they are in your pocket, you decide which one to use and how to use'," says Imran.
The actor, whose fan-base is largely urban thanks to hits like Delhi Belly and Mere Brother Ki Dulhan, says having so much freedom at the sets was "scary but empowering". "That kind of freedom increases your responsibility, puts a lot of pressure on you and is very scary but at the same time it is very empowering. I had a sense of accomplishment at the end of the day. Really, no director has given me that kind of confidence that Vishal did," says Imran.
Another challenge that the young actor faced was matching up to the performance of Pankaj Kapur, who plays his boss in the movie. "Pankajji is the sweetest, kindest person you would ever meet but as an actor he is completely different. When the cameras roll, he turns into a powerhouse, a volcano and then you have to face that. You have to ensure that your part is not falling apart in front of him," says Imran while sharing his experiences of working with the veteran actor.
Imran says Kapur never advised him or gave any tips on acting but his presence was inspiring. "The actors who are very talented, they understand that the process is different for each actor. He did not give me tips or advice but the kind of focus and dedication that he brought on the sets everyday was inspiring," says Imran.
Though the village setting was entirely new for Imran, he says working on the film was fun because his sensibilities matched with Bhardwaj. "The funny thing is that Vishal called me for this film only after watching Delhi Belly. These two films are world apart. His style of humour is very much in tune with my sensibilities. That being said, the character itself was hard for me to play," says Imran.
The actor is currently busy shooting Once Upon A Time In Mumbaai 2. He begins working on Tigmanshu Dhulia's Milan Talkies by the end of the year. Imran, who made his debut with Jaane Tu... Ya Jaane Na in 2008, says he is happy with the way his career has shaped up. "I think I have a record that any actor would relish as the last five or six films of mine have been hits. I am very happy with the way things have shaped up but that does not mean I can sit back and relax. The pressure is on me to do more," he says.