Chit Chat

I was very much in control of my temper: Saif

Saif Ali Khan denies reports of a run-in with the media, says he now follows the policy of quiet withdrawal.

This Wednesday, you reportedly vowed never to return to Delhi after the local media at a press conference demanded an apology from you after a four hour delay. You refused saying you were stuck in traffic and walked out. Is that true?
I could never say that. Delhi and Pataudi are in my blood. I was brought up there, I’m deeply connected to the city, my mother lives there.

I can understand that the media, fed up of waiting in the sun and the shabby treatment, made their displeasure clear. In India we tend to get a little rowdy at times and this group was screaming. A mini riot had broken out in a Mumbai showroom when we were promoting Cocktail too.

So you’re saying your anger was justified?
I wasn’t agitated. And when we realised interviews weren’t happening, we left.

That’s not how the incident has been projected in the media?
I respect the media but since it shapes public opinion, it should be a little careful in its reportage. There’s a video online that shows you what happened, check it out.

Last year after you were arrested following a midnight brawl at a posh city restaurant, you had promised to keep your temper in check…
I have. I was very much in control of my temper and quietly walked away from the situation. I’ve understood that withdrawal is the best policy.

Has the earlier brawl case been resolved?
No, it’s still dragging on. If we could sit down and talk, we should be able to sort things out amicably. Tempers were running high that night.

Bullett Raja isnt opening in Pakistan this Friday. Upset?
It’s a shame people living there won’t be entertained. We have a love-hate relationship with Pakistan, they’re still unsure if we’re friends or enemies.

Agent Vinod was also not allowed to officially release in Pakistan.
Yes, they thought Pakistanis were being projected as the baddies despite our attempts to balance out things with a General who was pro-peace and Kareena, a Pakistani agent, who helps avert a nuclear disaster. Director Sriram Raghavan believed it was a genuine representation, but they didn’t. In this case they’ve ordered a blanket ban on Indian films.

After Aarakshan you said you’d stick to your yuppie image and commercial films. So what made you accept Bullett Raja?
In Aarakshan I played a downtrodden Dalit, the make-up and look wasn’t right. This is an action-packed commercial film. I play a tough guy.

After Agent Vinod you’re playing a secret agent again in Kabir Khan’s Phantom which was filmed in the Lebanon-Syria border.
Kabir Khan’s film will be a much better film than Agent Vinod. Part of the excitement is filming in such volatile locations. I love such movies.

You’re learning Kurdish for it?
(Laughs) No, it’s a Hindi film.

It’s surprising that despite being a Bollywood star, you don’t watch Hindi movies…
I like to get away from my job when I’m not shooting. I like travelling abroad anonymously, meeting people, seeing films others make. I’ve always had eclectic tastes. I want to go back to being the person I was before I became a movie star. (Laughs) There’s been no change apart from the fact that I’m more mature now.

Seen Kareena Kapoor’s Gori Tere Pyaar Mein?
No, I haven’t.

It hasn’t lived up to expectations, Kareena must be disappointed?
All actors are passionate about their craft, but a lot of factors determine the fate of a film. It’s not the best news in the world, but after a few days you pick up the pieces and move on.

When will we see you on screen together again?
Kareena’s doing a cameo in my home production Happy Ending. After that I’m don’t know when we’ll work next.

I’m sure the multiplex crowd will love the film and equally sure it will have no chance in the single screens unless Govinda, part of the supporting cast, manages to pull people in.

It’s a happy ending for you too in your personal life, finally?
Happy endings happen only in films, in real life an ending means death and it’s rarely happy. There can be happy moments and with Kareena I have plenty of those. I love being an actor, but I don’t enjoy being a star. You can’t go for a walk without bodyguards. I don’t mean to sound ungrateful, but this lack of privacy can be chaffing.

So you bury yourself in books. You’re quite the reader, aren’t you? What are you reading right now?
Salman Rushdie’s epic saga Enchantress of Florence and Miguel de Cervantes’ Don Quixote, one of our oldest and greatest novels.

Could either be made into a Hindi movie?
Not Rushdie, it has too many descriptions, and a book is the best expression for it. Attempts have been made to turn Don Quixote into plays and movies. But I don’t think you can capture its essence onscreen.


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