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I was a misguided youth who didn't know what to do in life - Saif Ali Khan | Exclusive Interview
Around the same time, last year, actor Saif Ali Khan was busy promoting Tigmanshu Dhulia's Bullet Raja. The film may have failed to hit the bulls eye, but the actor, who was appreciated for his performance, quickly moved on to his next project, Humshakals. This one too, unfortunately, failed miserably. But the suave Nawab that he is, Khan accepted the failure of his last two projects and gracefully moved on to promote his latest flick, Happy Ending, which has hit the cinema halls today. Apart from playing two roles in the film, Happy Ending also happens to be his production venture under Illuminati Films.
While talking to us on a quiet Saturday afternoon, at the good ol' Mehboob studios, Khan sounded extremely positive. "We are just bringing the real genre of romantic - comedy back, without any experiments. I am not just saying this because it is my film, but this is good stuff," he stated. Dressed in his casual best and a beret cap to go with an otherwise relaxed outfit (taking a cue from his look in the film, maybe?), Khan settled down to chat with us about his role in Happy Ending, working with Govinda, the sequel to Go Goa Gone and why he doesn't want to play second lead roles anymore.
I am curious to know about the two characters that you will be seen portraying in this film. How are different are they?
They are very different. Yudi is a writer who lives in Los Angeles. He is a lazy guy, who keeps getting stuck in some funny problem or another. In a comedy like this, you enjoy the character and his problems, because they don't appear drastic and hence, one doesn't take them too seriously. There is a little vulnerability to the character, which is different for a romantic-comedy, because is losing his job and money to a girl, who he later falls in love with. The second character, Yogi, is more of an alter-ego. So, the two have different rhythms of talking and several scenes are shot with the two of them together. So, while shooting the film, it was just me, but when you see the film, you will think of it as two different people having a conversation. It was great fun.
Was there a certain level of comfort while working with directors Raj Nidimoru and Krishna D.K after Go Goa Gone?
Oh yes! And its not because of Go Goa Gone, but because of the kind of people that we are. We connect to each other's sense of humor and well, are not very mainstream. But, the use of humor is quite mainstream. They are smart guys and I like working with them. Since our sense of humor is common, when they write the dialogue and I enact the scenes, the result is very natural. Nothing looks forced.
So, can we expect a sequel to Go Goa Gone anytime soon?
Yes, it will definitely make for a good sequel. We are still working on the script. I think, the whole zombie thing was a little alienated. So, we want the sequel to be a little more universal. Maybe, a more adult comedy.
How would you describe the experience of working with Govinda for the first time?
He is amazing and I personally believe that people will enjoy watching him on screen in this role. He is a genius where comedy is concerned. But, there is something special about working with him this time, because since the last time we saw him on screen, we are shooting films a little differently. The colors are brighter, the cameras have advanced, so he is looking better than ever. Also, dancing next to him in G phaad ke was an interesting experience, because he makes every piece of choreography look very easy and I really love watching him dance on screen. In fact, back in the 90s, we were supposed to work together in a project helmed by Sanjay Chhel. But just after two days of work, the film got shelved.
Yes, it (Go Goa Gone) will definitely make for a good sequel. We are still working on the script. I think, the whole zombie thing was a little alienated. So, we want the sequel to be a little more universal
You recently mentioned that you watch very few Bollywood films. True?
Yes. The reason is quite simple, because I think of it as work. I don't want to come back home and put on a Hindi film, after being on the sets of a Bollywood film all day. If I do, I can't enjoy it just like a film. I will end up looking at the technical aspects or just think, "Oh! Even we should do something like this." But, having said that, I love watching television and I live for films. I remember, as a kid in Delhi, I would make it a point to watch every single English film from my video library. Sajid (Khan) and I have that in common, as we have almost seen every single film, but then, he has seen the Hindi ones too. I haven't (smiles).
Since you loved watching films as a kid, was Bollywood always on the cards for you?
No, not at all. In fact, I was a misguided youth and wasn't a very good example. I wasn't serious about studies, nor did I know what I want to do in life. I wasting time and was more interested in partying, girls, than serious work. It maybe normal and fortunately for me, things worked out as I grew up. But, there was never a specific aim that, "hey, this is what I wanna do."
Any particular reason why you stay away from Masala films or entertainers?
I don't know. There are so many different types of films that are being offered today. But, I think I have an appeal in at least a niche that is quite wide. I remember Aditya Chopra telling me that the kind of stuff that I am doing is fit for a multiplex hero. Today, the multiplex hero is a big slot. So, it is difficult to judge. Personally, I like to maintain a balance of light-hearted and artistic films. Like, the period between 2005-2006 was very good, because I had films like Salaam Namaste, Parineeta and Omkara releasing around the same time. All of them belonged to different genres, but it wasn't like I didn't fit the bill. The milieu of a Bengali character Shekhar suits me just as well as the urban vibe of a guy like Nikhil Arora living in Australia. And of course, something like a Langda Tyagi is never going to happen again.
I was a misguided youth and wasn't a very good example. I wasn't serious about studies, nor did I know what I want to do in life
Will we see you collaborate with Shah Rukh Khan or Vishal Bhardwaj again, since you have delivered great hits with them in the past?
Well, right now, working with Shah Rukh Khan would mean settling down with a small role. I would rather play the main role in a film produced by Illuminati. I don't think I will ever get a role like the one in Kal Ho Na Ho, along with Shah Rukh Khan. It was almost my film. It took a lot of work, in order to get out of working as the second lead in films. It is okay for actors to feel important in our own universes. So, I don't want to go back to doing that. As far as Vishal is concerned, he has to write something that will take us beyond Omkara.
What's next for your fans?
I have got a film with Reema Kagti, which will be produced by Excel Entertainment. Then, there is also Phantom. And right now, I am looking forward to the response that Happy Ending receives.
I don't think I will ever get a role like the one in Kal Ho Na Ho, along with Shah Rukh Khan. It was almost my film
-- By Priya Adivarekar --