Saif Ali Khan has received many nicknames during his career – the other Khan and the fourth Khan being just the two. The actor, however, is not bothered by any of this. Saif is on a different trajectory and is enjoying perhaps the most rewarding time of his Bollywood career. “I never saw the point of doing that,” he said, referring to the competition. “I’m doing a lot more than I expected. And I’m just happy. The versatile actor claims to be at a position in his career where he can afford to play characters “as crazy and interesting” as possible without any fear.
Saif Ali Khan has carved out a niche for itself and found its comfort zone with the genre of cinema it has been associated with in recent years. These include projects as diverse as Go Goa Gone, Kaalakaandi, Laal Kaptaan and his recent hit Bhoot Police.
“There is a kind of lack of fear that leads to great things. I think I am at a good point in my career where I continue to enjoy and learn my job. I have people like Al Pacino as gurus. He’s my standard for good acting. And I’m still a struggling newcomer. This is how I see it. But I love being one, ”Saif said in an exclusive conversation with indianexpress.com.
From capturing zombies in Go Goa Gone to capturing ghosts in Bhoot Police, this has been an interesting turn of events for Saif. Thinking back on the progression, he said with a smile: “Go Goa Gone was made with a very independent film spirit. I literally didn’t get paid for it and they said it was a really bad idea, you shouldn’t make movies like this. But we did and we were appreciated. So I think the history of cinema is full of stories of crazy people who want to tell stories and finally find love.
Saif’s character of a ghost hunter in Bhoot Police named Vibhooti has received a lot of praise for his punchlines and comedic timing. Comparing the two films, Saif agreed that it was a progression towards “mainstream entry”.
“Bhoot Police was a more commercial idea, deeply rooted in Indian culture. It’s a script and a character that I was crazy about from the start. In fact, it is quite attenuated. If we do a sequel, which we plan to do, I would suggest the writer bring in some elements from the old drafts. Unlike that, Go Goa Gone was a small niche. For me, it’s always about how to entertain audiences. As I saw The Mummy with my wife and my son. When you snuggle up while seeing something a little scary, it feels warm. And I think that’s the Bhoot police area.
Saif has revealed that his second son, Taimur Ali Khan, appreciates Bhoot’s font despite the spooky portions. He added, “Taimur saw me get excited about the movie. He wondered why I was coming home with that kind of makeup on. He knew what the movie was about. Bhoot Police is actually funnier than scary. It would be nice if we could do some kid-friendly supernatural adventure comedies.
In a career spanning nearly three decades, Saif Ali Khan has more than once been called the “Fourth Khan”. He even made second-third films like Main Khiladi Tu Anari, Dil Chahta Hai and Kal Ho Naa Ho, until Omkara turned it around for him in 2006. “Dil Chahta Hai was the third role. You never know what people will like. I see these songs that Katrina (Kaif) and I did. You have a different energy in your 30s and luckily it worked. I wanted to do Omkara and things like that. Now the Choices do something commercial and interesting, while finding reality in performance. Just know if you can carry an entire film or not and be brave to choose a path. “
Saif was the first major Bollywood star to go the OTT route with Sacred Games (2018). This was even before Indian audiences got used to streaming platforms. He was also seen in Tandav earlier this year. Sharing his take on how he sees the digital space, Saif said he didn’t enter the web because he wanted to be the first. “It’s because I wasn’t afraid of ‘Oh, it’s the TV or the small screen.’ I understood early on that Netflix is a revolutionary idea. Small-scale entertainment is less valuable than the big screen. Netflix internationally is able to put more money into a project than a lot of movies because they want to change that idea. A kid with a phone can have a more intense cinematic experience than a bunch of guys in the theater. And that’s a crazy idea, that’s what Netflix was trying to achieve, to challenge the notion of people.
Calling Sacred Games “the best and most adventurous writing” he has ever participated in, Saif chose a scene between Kubbra Sait Kukoo’s character and Nawazuddin Siddiqui’s Ganesh Gaitonde and said, “When Kukoo reveals his gender to Gaitonde, this scene is so disturbing and adorable. I’ve never seen anything like it in international cinema. I think that’s why we were nominated for an Emmy.
Does that mean Saif doesn’t take the “superstar” label too seriously? Dissecting his definition of a superstar, Saif said, “My parents were superstars but they didn’t behave like that. And it’s very easy to take yourself too seriously, whether it’s having a group of bodyguards around or that vibe. You can’t blame someone who doesn’t know better. You just don’t have to get carried away with success.
Being the son of yesteryear diva Sharmila Tagore and legendary cricketer Mansoor Ali Khan, Saif was first pushed into a parenthesis with the burden of carrying on his legacy. He said the main thing any actor wants to do when entering showbiz is survive and “don’t want to be made fun of.” And he was no different. He explained, “You don’t want people mistreating you or throwing chappals at you at Gaiety Galaxy. That’s why you come into the movie industry. I didn’t have the mental approach like my contemporaries. Some were reigning superstars, others are superstars from their first film until now. My success or the fact that the public appreciates me has been a mirror reaction to my mental state. I have a very international outlook on things due to my upbringing and upbringing. And a westernized anglicized approach is the opposite of a Hindi movie hero. They are not very macho. They speak softly. It was a different standard. It didn’t really suit me. “
Saif’s choices might be a point of reference for many new age actors, but he said he didn’t take himself too seriously at the time. It still worked though. “When I watch my old movies, I think there was a sympathy. I was trying. You could see there was a lack of inhibition, decent attractive quality. But I chose the best from what was on offer. It was also bread and butter for me.
Saif also revealed his enthusiasm for his next mythological project, Adipurus, where he plays Lankesh (Raavan) against Ram de Prabhas. Adipurush is his second costume drama starring director Om Raut, after the historic Tanhaji.
“I think Adipurush will be part of the history of cinema. And I think Om Raut is the rebirth of K Asif! He is absolutely passionately mad. But it’s also exhausting with people doing your beard, five people touching you all the time, fiddling with your costume. Sometimes you are like a piece of meat in front of the camera. I would love to make a movie like Vikram Vedha where I can look like a normal guy. I can’t wait for something like this, ”he concluded.
Saif will also be seen in Bunty Aur Babli 2 which is set to have a digital premiere on Disney Plus Hotstar on November 19.