That’s indeed a cool little trick, just one of the subtle changes that totally change the scene.
I think ultimately the conversion from small talk to a deep dive into a subject or a person’s mind comes from gradually transitioning from the What? to the How? and Why? ones. Instead of going through a boring conveyer belt delivery of What’s your job? What’s your favorite food? What music do you listen to? dive into the how and why.
Why do you like your job, how did you choose to become a this and that, why did you travel to this country, etc.
Find people’s passions (because they generally have a lot of knowledge about the subject and like to tell you about them as well) and then tell them: I’m curious. How/Why…? This way you will get first-hand knowledge from an expert and cut the small talk as short as possible.