I Do Not Want To Be In A Safe Zone As An Actor- Saif Ali Khan
By Jyothi Venkatesh
Your character in Bazaar was different from the usual kinds of roles that you play. Isn’t it?
Yes. My character, Sakun Kothari, was a Gujarati-speaking man, who was not at all classy in the real sense. I think it’s important to sound like a character and not just look like him. The moment you hear his voice, you immediately know what his class, religion, cultural background and family heritage are.
What attracted you to the role that you play in Bazaar?
What attracted me? Nikhil Advani and I were chatting one day when he told me that he was planning to make a film on the murky dealings on in the stock exchange and asked me whether I would like to be a part of it. I frankly told him that I did not know anything about the share market. He just told me that it was about money and what it means to different people like you and me, what it means to a rich man’s wife and what it means to a young guy and his girl friend
Bazaar was not just about the stock market. It had more to it than that. Isn’t it?
They have mythologized the characters and also dramatized them in Bazaar. The film was based on a real life scam. Whatever that happened in the movie is something that has happened and something that will happen in the future too. My role had something juicy to perform because in general people like Shakun are pious and pray to God. It’s really great to get roles that are letting me do that. To be able to sound like a character is to actually become that person.
After Bazaar, I believe you have been offered different films in different genres. Comment!
Yes. Baahubali has completely changed our idea of scale: so we have Ajay Devgn making Tanaji; The Unsung Warrior, which is my next film. Navdeep Singh’s Hunter is also in the completing stages. I’m glad that finally I am actually getting to play characters that are genuinely different — which is great because otherwise, after Omkara, I hardly got any earth shaking role.
Didn’t it deter you that you had to play the role of an antagonist in Bazaar?
As an actor, you need to balance the positive roles that you set out to do with grey shaded roles of the antagonist. You need o be a little aggressive and more cool to be an antagonist. The idea is even if you play bad, if it is well-written, people don’t think actors are being evil or nasty.
It looks like Bazaar was inspired a lot by The Wolf of Wall Street!
Rubbish. The Wolf of Wall Street was a celebration and exploration of the extremes of money and capitalism and you have a guy who is out of his mind on money and drugs, losing the plot in California, within the law, outside the law, nobody knows. Bazaar was nothing like The Wolf of Wall Street.
You do not look down upon commercial films though you have done films which are off-beat like Ek Hasina Thi, Agnet Vinod, Phantom, Being Cyrus, Kaalakandi etc?
I think commercial cinema can sometimes give you an opportunity to do good acting, especially because it is strong and more dramatic. I really enjoyed that experience of making the commercial cinema more believable and play it like it is more real.
What do you think about people who say nepotism is prevalent in Bollywood?
If you think nepotism still exists in our industry, can you tell me how, I, though the son of Sharmila Tagore was harassed 25 years ago and I am still angry about it., Needless to say, I was harassed not sexually, but I have been harassed 25 years ago and I am still angry about it. I have absolutely nothing against Anand Mahendru. It is fine he made me slog in a film from which he threw me out but he did not torture me or harass me at all.
What is your take on the current Me Too movement?
Now, #MeToo has become a very powerful movement. While it is meant to encourage more survivors to come out with their stories of abuse, thereby naming the predators who’ve been shielded so far, it leaves me, and many like me, infuriated because we’re probably not doing enough. You should know how to behave with women. You just cannot call a girl to your home after pack up when you have a wife and kids. I’d address the issue if someone complains to me.
You do not want to be in a safe zone as an actor. Why?
That is because I am ready to do any role that I very ex citing. I do not want to be just in a safe zone as an actor. I chose to be a part of a web series like Sacred Games when people warned me not to do any web series when I am a leading actor in films but I did it and people have reacted very well to the web series
However, you have constantly refused to be part of any TV show. Why?
That is because the value system is different when you set out to do a TV show, because you push the boundaries when you are part of a web series. The attitude towards TV has got to change
A lot of yours films did not work in a row. Like Chef, Kaalakaandi, Happy Birthday etc?
Nothing rankles any more as far as I am concerned. Yes. Though I did a lot of hard work, Chef did not work but then you cannot afford to get too upset every time a film of yours flops.
You daughter Sara is making her debut with Kedarnath. How do you feel?
I am happy that I am not doing a film with Sara because I am constantly worried about her. It is all her choice though she sweetly asks me how she should perform a scene. I am happy that she is not following me, Kareena or her mother. Her manager advises her but she makes up her mind and acts her way.
It is 25 years since you had made your debut with Yash Chopra’s Parampara. How would you evaluate your growth as an actor?
25 years is as long time. I do not feel outdated at all because my mind is International. I get a feeling that with time I have grown better. I want to work like Amitabh Bachchan when I am 76 and I know I am going to be as great as Anil Kapoor is when I turn 60
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