Imran Khan was born as Imran Pal on 13 January 1983 in Madison, Wisconsin, United States to Anil Pal, a software engineer, and Nuzhat Khan, a psychologist. Imran’s grandfather was a Bengali who married a British woman. Imran’s father is a Bengali Hindu who works as a senior manager at Yahoo in California. Imran’s mother is a Muslim from a film family, daughter of the director-producer Nasir Hussain, sister of director-producer Mansoor Khan and cousin of actor Aamir Khan.
Khan’s parents divorced when he was still a toddler, after which his mother moved to Mumbai. In an interview, Khan called his step-father, Raj Zutshi, as the father figure during his growing years. He was enrolled at Bombay Scottish School, where he developed a stammer due to corporal punishments such as caning. According to Khan, his grades fell and his academic career went into a “strong decline” due to his inability to cope with his new environment and radically changed family situation; he became nervous and developed facial tics. Meanwhile, his mother married again and found it convenient to send him to a boarding school, choosing Blue Mountain School in distant Coonoor, Tamil Nadu. After a period of depression in Coonoor, Khan adjusted and grew into the environment; he later described his experience there as “phenomenal,” although his grades remained poor. When the principal of that school left to start his own school, Khan and several other students followed him to a Gurukul in the jungles of Ooty. The new school had no electricity, the students were required to wash their clothes in a creek and they even grew some of the food they ate. Khan later admitted that frequently changing schools made him independent but also a loner.
Khan then moved to Sunnyvale, California, where he lived with his father and attended Fremont High School. Upon graduation, he aspired to become a film director, and went to Los Angeles to pursue a degree in filmmaking at the Los Angeles branch of the New York Film Academy. Studying direction, writing and cinematography, Khan was inspired by writer Roald Dahl. After receiving his degree, he ventured into market research and advertising.He eventually returned to Mumbai and trained at the Kishore Namit Kapoor Acting Institute.