The fourth Khan of Bollywood is ready to woo audiences in his all new rustic avatar and while there is the pressure of joining the Rs 100 crore club, Saifu isn’t worried – he says that he will be happy even if his film doesn’t cross the century mark…
Saif Ali Khan has charmed many with his loverboy image, but with Tigmanshu Dhulia’s Bullett Raja the Nawab is moving into new territory. We recently caught up with Kareena Kapoor Khan’s hubby, who looked royal in every sense in a blue long kurta and white pants. We had to wait a bit to start chatting, since Mr Khan wasn’t comfortable sitting on a chair and so had a sofa brought in. Truly nawabi, hai na? But the wait was worth it, coz Saif was more than willing to answer questions and did speak his mind, unlike most celebrities who think twice before making any kind of statement. Did he talk about his daughter’s filmi plans? Was he willing to comment on his rivals? Is he hoping to enter the Rs 100 crore club with Bullett Raja? Find out…..
You have a very western persona and yet you pull off Indian roles like Langda Tyagi in Omkara and now Raja Mishra in Bullett Raja. How do you manage that?
Omkara was something I worked really hard on and Vishal Bhardwaj gave me a great role and it helped me a lot. I have grown as an actor; I understand my job well and have little more control over what I do. I like the feeling of being versatile. But there was a time when I was not doing too much work. I used to look for stuff that excited me, and was trying to be selective. But then I realised I was wrong. I felt that even if I made a mistake, I should keep working and try different things. If I like a film and its director, I don’t need to really read the whole script to convince myself. And I felt Bullett Raja was really interesting; it was something new and different. Moreover, if you keep doing what is comfortable and what comes to you easily, after a while it gets boring. I am lucky I could do a film like Bullett Raja. Further, you need to have a slightly tough demeanour, a rough attitude, to carry this part and there was a time when I felt I was too young to do it or too boyish to pull it off. It is really exciting that times have changed now.
Did you ever think of producing the film?
I don’t know if this genre has a sure shot success rate. But I don’t know if I would really produce a film like this, somehow.
How did you get into the character of Raja Mishra?
Sab kuch Tigmanshu ke dimaag mein tha. When he narrated me the story, we first sorted out the costumes. Coz my character transforms from a simple guy to a gangster. So first you see me in normal shirts, jeans and ganji, but when I turn gangster, I start wearing shiny shirts, trousers and all. Though they are flashy clothes, they look good. Kuch cheezein lucky bhi thi, coz I did Go Goa Gone before Bullett Raja and I had dyed my hair blond – I shouldn’t have, I should have just worn a wig (smiles). So I made my hair brown again and there were a few streaks that looked great for Bullett Raja. Though it doesn’t look good personally, it was great for the character. So once the clothes and look were decided, I worked on the diction and body language, but that wasn’t really tough. I just had to get the basics right.
You have your own fan base, but when we talk about being a ‘Khan’, you’re in a different league. Why do you think that’s so?
I don’t know… har ek aadmi ki apni ek personality hoti hai and destiny hoti hai. Shahrukh Khan, Aamir Khan and Salman Khan have always been superstars and I respect them a lot. I have maintained friendships with all the three Khans. I have spoken to them a lot and they all think differently. Even my thinking is different. If you’re lucky, you get what you want. And I want to work, I want to go on holidays, I like fishing and I want to travel around the world. I think I am most comfortable right now in my life. I am better now than three years ago, or five years ago. I think Happy Ending will do better than Hum Tum. Bullett Raja will be better than Race. So I think I am getting better.
There is the Rs 100 crore pressure on every A-list actor and people are hoping that Bullett Raja will enter the Rs 100 crore club…
I don’t think Bullett Raja will cross Rs 100 crore – not every film does so. And more so, it’s a Tigmanshu Dhulia film.
But at a recent event he said this film would change the face of commercial cinema…
See, I love his attitude and he has been saying amazing things, that I am like Amitabh Bachchan and Sonakshi Sinha is Rekha and he is changing cinema. It’s really nice what all he is saying and I wish him luck. But I don’t think we can change cinema. You can try and change, but we exist under the umbrella of cinema. You don’t change it; you function within it. Or you change cinema like Steven Spielberg does by making movies like Star Wars. So I don’t know if this is changing cinema. But I think what he means is that the definition of ‘commercial’ is changing – like Barfi! made Rs 100 crores. That’s not normally what you think of as a commercial film. Tigmanshu’s films – coz he is a little artistic – I think are a little somehow niche. This is the most commercial film he has made. But not every film can make Rs 100 crore. Certain films you expect should, like in my career I think Race 2 should and maybe Happy Ending should. But I don’t expect the same with Bullett Raja.
Shahrukh, Salman and Aamir have broken records – now you’re the ‘fourth Khan’, so people are expecting the same… maybe 200 crore or 500 crore…. from you!
Good, even I am waiting (laughs out loud)! I hope one day it happens. But I don’t think Tigmanshu’s film has all the elements for that. He doesn’t make Rs 200 crore films, you know. Probably Sajid Khan will make a film like that, or if I work with Prabhu Dheva you can hope it will be something big. They make more masala type movies. Tigmanshu’s films are little more sensible, not potboilers. So I will be very happy with less than Rs 100 crore, but more than a certain amount. It should make money; it should be a hit.
When you stepped into this massy entertainer space were you consciously aware that your film would be pitted against those which make a lot of moolah?
It’s obvious that not every film made mints so much money and you should know that as producer/ director, or as an actor. When people come to see a Tigmanshu Dhulia film, they are obviously not going expect it to be a Rohit Shetty comedy. Both filmmakers are from different leagues and thinking. Every film has its expectations. You can’t compare them with each other.
Tell us about your co-star Sonakshi Sinha…
I don’t know how she manages to promote two films at the same time! I feel so tired. It’s amazing how she does it. And she is very nice and down-to-earth and I really enjoyed working with her. She’s very grounded and that makes our film grounded as well. She is easy going and I feel I have known her for a long time, which I haven’t.
There have been reports of your daughter Sarah Ali Khan wanting to enter Bollywood…
Sarah is studying in America and she will be there for four years, coz she has to complete her education. Once she gets her education in place, she can do whatever she wants to do. She can live and work anywhere in the world; or if she wants to come back and join films, I will support her. But if she wants to do films, then she surely needs to lose weight. But she can’t let go her pizza (laughs)!
Maybe Kareena Kapoor Khan will help her….
Well, nobody can help her – not even Kareena… She has to do it herself!