Saif Ali Khan: ‘I don’t take the Nawab title seriously, I'd rather be an actor anyday’

Seema Sinha

Jan,11 2018 17:19:19 IST

Saif Ali Khan has completed 25 years in the industry and though he finds his journey interesting, he is aware of the fact that his “slightly niche taste”, at times, doesn't go hand in hand with the box office.

While he has been appreciated in films like Hum Tum, Omkara, Dil Chahta Hai and Go Goa Gone, he saw a rather rough year in 2017. Saif was seen in the period drama, Vishal Bhardwaj’s Rangoon, and Raja Krishna Menon’s remake of Jon Favreau’s Chef. Both films failed to impress, registering losses at the ticket windows. However, Saif is excited about his next, Kaalakaandi, which is said to be a black comedy on life, death and karma. Whether it will revive the actor’s sagging career, remains to be seen.

The first look of Kaalakaandi

The first look of Kaalakaandi

While refuting rumours that Kaalakaandi was in the Being Cyrus zone, he says, “Kaalakaandi is like an international film, it’s sensible, funny and an engaging movie. It doesn’t fit the typical Bollywood kind of pot-boiler but it is a very satisfying film. It has something for everyone. That sounds like I am trying to sell it (laughs). But it is an entertaining film, something that makes you laugh, sometimes it makes you cry a little bit. It is a film that comes out as very relateable. I’m proud to be part of it. Akshat (Verma, director of the film) says he wants to make different films coming out of India. It has little drama, little action. It is not a quiet movie, it is quite crazy. I liked how the stories connect. It is a story of crazy things that happened in one night.”

Despite the failures last year, Saif is happy about his performances being praised by the critics. “I got really good reviews for both, Rangoon and Chef. My acting has changed and I think from last year, I gave more thought to my acting than before. Rangoon, Chef and now Kaalakaandi are much better performances. People are saying that after Omkara I have done good work in Chef and that it is a very confident kind of performance. I have been learning constantly," he says, furthering, “My upcoming film Bazaar is a nice commercial potboiler on the stock market. I am playing a slightly dangerous guy in it so it will be fun. Then, I am also excited about the film with Navdeep Singh and Aanand L Rai.”

Though Akshat wrote the script with Saif in mind, it took him around two years to get to the actor. To this Saif says, “Yes, I took time to decide. Maybe at that time it wasn’t something I was looking at. Then Vishal Bharadwaj told me to read it, he said that I would like it, and I did like it. It’s about a guy who is really boring and he has never done anything wrong in his life. It is about how he takes this drug and goes a little crazy. I had to do that properly and not stupidly which was quite challenging as well.”

While Saif is the Nawab of Pataudi, but looking at the Kaalakaandi trailer, particularly when he’s seen dancing to the Punjabi folk song Kaala Doreya, it seems like the Jat from Pataudi has awakened, to which he interrupts, saying, “I played a Jat in Omkara as well. This is just a similar sounding character. I think part of growing up in Pataudi and Bhopal is to be in touch with people. People are very different in cities. Bombay is like a potboiler. People come here from everywhere. I don't take being a Nawab very seriously, apart from looking after my family home and other things. I would rather be an actor than a Nawab any day,” he chuckles.

Failures don't give him any kind of pressure, as he says, “It’s upsetting, but I know that it’s not a personal rejection and hence I don’t take the pressure because that is not the right way to think. It’s just that the audience wants to see a certain film in a certain way, which is difficult to define. People don’t wake up and say, ‘Okay, now we don’t like Saif’s movie anymore'.”

“The first thought would be that maybe people don’t like you. No, it is not that. And I am not so important that people would say that they don’t like Saif. You have to do films that they want to see. They have to like the trailer, they have to like the world of the movie. That has always been challenging for me maybe because I have slightly niche taste. The things that excite me and the things that excite the filmmakers I like might not be the most popular choices sometimes. Inside commercial cinema to find a challenging thing is the answer,” he adds.

From the poster for Chef

From the poster for Chef

But Saif does sit down to analyse what went wrong: “In Chef, people perhaps expected a more energetic movie with more cooking in New York, more drama... I think Indians like masala and drama in their films. But lot of makers want to avoid that because they want to be different. But I feel, you should not try and change cinema, you should give what the audience wants,” he says.

Saif is the one of the first Bollywood stars to do a web series — Sacred Games, which is Netflix’s first original series in India — and yet, he has stayed away from social media. “I like the real world. I am wary of the digital world because people can get lost in these things and it can take your time looking around and not talking to people. People are losing the art of conversation also. I find Instagram akin to showing off. 'This is my house, this is my horse in Pataudi, this is my son'. What do I put on Instagram?” he laughs.

He also jokes about his son Taimur: “Yes, Taimur has become quite famous. Taimur is the superstar baby.”

Talking about his children entering the limelight, Saif shares an interesting thought. “Sara (who will debut in Abhishek Kapoor's Kedarnath along side Sushant Singh Rajput) has all my support, obviously. If Ibrahim (his son) says he wants to be an actor then I hope it is because of wanting to be an actor and not just for the lifestyle of a star or the whole vibe of a star. If Ibrahim sees Salman Khan, and says that even he wants to be an actor, it should be for the right reason. But as my wife Kareena says, even for me that was the reason (to become a star first), and only recently it became about acting,” he laughs. Honesty seems to be his best trait.

Updated Date: Jan 11, 2018 17:19 PM