Chef is one of my best works; we have tried to keep the performance natural, says Saif Ali Khan

Seema Sinha

October 05, 2017 14:34:22 IST

Saif Ali Khan is one of the few actors in Bollywood who is quite like his real self. He is easy going and cool rather than serious and obsessed. His matter of fact and pragmatic approach is refreshing, and, of course, his wit peps up any conversation.

Wearing a purple t-shirt and shorts, I meet him in his tastefully done office, which has an artistic cabinet filled with books and a massive portrait of his father, Mansoor Ali Khan Pataudi.  He’s worn a plaster on his ankle and says, “I have just sprained it, nothing to worry.” The day coincides with his wife Kareena’s birthday and the R K Studio fire. “Last night, along with two dogs and Taimur, we lit a cake and had a nice quite dinner. But the RK fire has upset the family, it has set them quiet,” says Saif candidly.

Saif Ali Khan and Kareena Kapoor with their son Taimur. File Photo

Saif Ali Khan and Kareena Kapoor with their son Taimur. File Photo

He is well aware of the attention on his children and that our chat will also revolve around daughter Sara, who is currently shooting her debut film; son Ibrahim, who is also showing keen interest in showbiz, and, of course, little Taimur, who has already acquired the star status at such a tender age.

When asked how involved he is with the baby (I also asked him not to give the clichéd answer of changing diapers), Saif bursts out laughing and says, “It is not very difficult to change diapers these days because now they have an adhesive tape. Earlier, you had these safety pins where you might stab the baby. There was a trick involved in tying diapers. I have done all that. But this is easy.”

Answering the other part, Saif grins and says, “Involved with him?? Taimur is my blood, so there is a very deep involvement.”

Saif may be going through a dull phase with his last releases Rangoon and  Happy Ending not working at the box office, but the actor has some exciting projects ahead. His immediate release (6 October) is Raja Krishna Menon’s Chef — an official remake of American film Chef released in 2014 for which he trained under a professional chef at a five star hotel.

“I enjoyed it. My director wanted me to be comfortable in the kitchen. People usually cheat in movies with scenes of cutting and chopping, but we have done that well. But I found frying relatively easy, I am now an expert at it,” laughs Saif. He claims to have also taken his work home, amusing his family members. “It was such a nice atmosphere, even the dogs were excited wondering what’s happening, why is he in the kitchen. Little Taimur would also wonder what is going on, the cook was also excited,” he laughs out loud.

What attracted him to Chef was its modern take on relationships and its complexities.It shows the relevant issue among urban middle classes and the upwardly mobile people who have work pressures and have trouble balancing family with work. The situation that the character is in, I found to be funny, touching, amusing, interesting. We have tried to keep the performance natural. It’s one of my best works. There is effortless acting. There is drama but we haven’t gone overboard. I like how I have done it,” says Saif.

Saif Ali Khan in Chef. Images from News 18.

Besides Chef, Saif is also excited about his other projects that include, Akshat Verma-directed Kaalakandi, Nikkhil Advani’s Baazaar, Netflix’s upcoming original series, Sacred Games (helmed jointly by Anurag Kashyap and Vikramaditya Motwane) and Navdeep Singh’s Hunterr.

“It is so funny that I didn’t have a good year but I am working with much better directors than I have worked before and for most of them I am the first choice. That is what I want in life now. I want a creative involved cinematic experience where everybody is trying to do something special,” says Saif, adding, "Today, I would like to work with any good director, anybody who is intelligent, artistic and doing something a bit fresh. I won’t take old names; that I want to work with Yashraj or Bhansali.”

With Salman Khan being roped in the third instalment of Race, will he miss doing it considering that he was part of two franchises? (Thinks hard) “No, I don’t feel I am missing out because I am quite happy doing what I am doing. For the kind of film Ramesh ji (Taurani, producer) wants to make, he has the perfect cast. We did discuss various things."

The conversation now veers towards his daughter Sara’s entry into Bollywood, who after many speculations finally opted for Abhishek Kapoor’s Kedarnath, opposite Sushant Singh Rajput. Saif says, “Sara always wanted to become an actress. I am also excited and hope her dream comes true. I am always there to support in whichever way, whatever she wants. She has a good director for her launch.”

Saif Ali Khan in Kaalakaandi.

Considering that a career in movies can be volatile and risky, didn’t he want his daughter, who graduated from Columbia University, to have a stable career? “The most risky thing about this profession is that not everybody makes it. It is not guaranteed. But she wants to take that chance because this is also a great life. (Thinks hard) sometimes I feel it is a great life... depends upon where I am shooting (laughs). But if you live in India this is a great life. Maybe it is boring to live in Washington DC. Lot of people who have gone there have come back,” says Saif.

He continues, “Even Soha (Saif’s sister) is not unlike Sara. She has been to Oxford and LSE (London School of Economics) but would rather do this than work in Citi Bank. Soha likes that life. Same with Sara. If she can bring that education to films, she can be a clever actress; she can be smart. There are lot of opportunities, lot of different kind of things happening in the parallel industry as well, and there is mainstream commercial which is great. Working with Vikramaditya Motwane, Akshat Verma is very rewarding for the actors. They are so talented that it can improve my work.”

So who does Sara go to for advice? “She speaks to all of us for different things but I suspect she would speak to her mother the most on the movie industry. But I am not 100 per cent sure,” he reveals. Saif’s son, Ibrahim is also showing an inclination towards showbiz and was offered an ad but the dad didn’t approve of it at this point of time. “I would not suggest he becomes a model right now. He should concentrate on his academic career first,” says Saif.

Coming back to Chef, one wonders why they chose a date as nondescript as the dull pre-Diwali period? “I only had one film in the last 25 years that released on a festival date which took 12 to 15 crore opening,” he laughs.

“So it would be great to get a festival date because people go to watch movies, and (says with a hearty laugh) it is very unfair that only the superstars of the nation get those dates. They anyway would take a big opening, once in a while they should give those dates to us to release our movies," says Saif.

Updated Date: Oct 05, 2017 14:34 PM