What was the response in Toronto? How does it feel to represent Indian cinema on the global platform?
Well before the movie released in Toronto, there was all this talk about the north American press was a little apprehensive as trivializing beyond serious situation like 9/11 but we had two screening one for the North American audience and the other for the Asian audience predominantly Pakistani afghani and Indian and all I can say there was a standing ovation after both the screening. It was outstanding and its great to represent India on the global format and itís a great that a movie like Kabul express has gone global simply because very few people know that Kabul express is the only movie to is completely shot in Afghanistan post the Taliban regime. No movie has been shot there. And can you imagine a matter of timing, we have just got out of there and when we were there the Taliban started regrouping and when we were out of there and well you have a Taliban resurgence and have more then one and a half thousand troupes killed again so we were there I mean god had created that gap for us to literally shoot and get out it was dangerous.
What motivated you to take on a film like Kabul Express?
Well I remember Kabir Khan coming and telling me that I am an award documentary film maker. This is a movie which is based loosely on my personnel likes its called Kabul Express, I would like you to read it. The minute he said Kabul Express my ears perked up because I thought about Afghanistan and I said wow this is an opportunity to go to a land that you have only seen on CNN and BBC but maybe I would get a different perspective to whatís happening there once I go there and thatís exactly what happened I got a completely different perspective once I went there and I read the script and I think before he reached home I told him that I wanted to do the movie.
Is it a co-incidence or a planned decision to work with first time directors?
I go by my gut feel, let me be very honest. When I picked up Kabul Express there was no producer similarly when I chose to do Anurag Kashyapís script there was no producer so I go by my gut feel and I donít believe in anything called parallel or commercial cinema. I think actors make it as commercial as it is and I think its important for us to draw the balance. Speaking for myself I like doing films that are on the edge and are kind of crazy and I enjoy the process.
You do all kind of cinemas like regular, commercial and offbeat like KB which do you prefer?
I prefer good script if the script is good thatís it I donít decide I think those are terminologies made by people I donít think itís important because a good movie is always watched discerningly by an audience
What was the experience like, to share screen space with Arshad Warsi?
For Arshad Warsi I go once again on record to say that Arshad is the most under rated actor. Heís brilliant, has been used for his comic timing in a lot of places and he does that brilliantly but all in all heís a complete actor. There is a lot that I have learnt from Arshad Warsi in Kabul Express he helped me with a lot of my scenes and a lot of my dialogues heís an absolutely outstanding person and heís very addictive once you work with him you want to work with him all the time. We are doing another film together which is tentatively titled ĎGoalí. Its on soccer so this time heíll have to listen to me and thatís important.
What was the experience of shooting in post Taliban Afghanistan?
Superb, for the people out there and for the press that this is going out to and for the people who are reading this, the Indians have done a lot for Afghanistan. If you see the roads that are being built by Indians, educational institutions, hospitals, art and museum all is built by the Indians so the Afghanis love the Indians to death and its not just about movies but they just love Indians. After God there is Hindi movies there nothing stands in the way of Hindi movies and thatís like religion for them they know every song, every dance, every action, every dialogue of every movie. And it was shocking when I went there, that there was a John Abraham haircutting salon, John Abraham hairat, John Abraham photo studio in mazar-i-sheriff but conveniently my name had been changed to Ibrahim because for some reason they believe I am the son of the soil there because my mother is Irani so there is a kind of affinity towards me.
In this film you are portraying somewhat Kabir Khanís character because its his experiences that you are portraying, what was it like?
Superb! Kabir is basically an atheist he does not believe in God, he does not believe in boundaries he believes that we are born to walk freely across the world he believes in getting his job done even its in the most difficult place like Arshad said once which is really true that Kabir will ask which is the most dangerous place and if it has a 5% survival rate then he will go and shoot there so Kabir has got a different affinity for danger and he loves dangerous places and well I think I am the same I ride a bike I am on two wheels rather then four, I am bohemian by nature, I am an agonist I believe in the presence of a supreme being but we donít necessarily need to call him god, I do believe there is some one out there but I am also human I pray when I am in trouble so I think there are a lot more similarities between me and Kabir in a lot more ways then one.