No one likes anyone in the industry: Saif Ali Khan
Saif Ali Khan is presently reading the essay On The Shortness Of Life from Moses Hadas’ The Stoic Philosophy Of Seneca. No wonder he’s celebrating his perfect life’ to the hilt. Apart from being grateful for a gorgeous wife and family, he’s even restored bridges that were once wrecked. Today, he enjoys an easy equation with ex-wife Amrita Singh – children Sara and Ibrahim being their mutual concern. He’s reworked the dynamics of his alleged acrimony with partner Dinesh Vijan only to re-emerge as a producer. What’s more, he’s even made up with dear friend Sajid Khan post Humshakals. And all this he’s achieved with utmost earnestness. As Saif lets you into the truth behind the conjectures, the room is filled with a carefree vibe. Dressed in a crisp white shirt over well-fitted black pants, he looks every bit the royal he is. It wouldn’t be wrong to call him a conversational guru coz heck, he takes on every contention … and answers without pretence. He comes clean on all… frailties, his foibles and even his insensitivity at times… Excerpts:
Most believe that you have it all – a royal lineage and a glamorous life as an actor…
(Smiles) It is a perfect life ya. They are right. I’ve nothing to complain about, really. I have a cellar stocked with good wine. A lovely lady at home (Kareena Kapoor Khan). I love my mother (Sharmila Tagore), my sisters (Soha and Saba Ali Khan) and my wonderful children (Sara and Ibrahim). Now even my ex-wife (Amrita Singh) and I are getting along. We are discussing our children’s future.
But you always got along with her, no?
Ah… well, at this moment everything is in place.
Was it not in place earlier?
There’ve been times when certain elements were not in place. But at this point, everything is just right.
Anything you ever get insecure about?
Sometimes I worry about not achieving what I have to. A lot of people are dependent on me today. I’m alright as long as I keep working. But it would be nice to have a fixed income, which is not dependent on the movies.
But you are producing too…
Still… I think of myself as an actor. I haven’t made any money producing films. (Laughs) I have made exactly ’20 from producing films.
Is that the reason you split with long time partner, Dinesh Vijan?
(Laughs) It sounds like a good reason, no? But we haven’t split. Illuminati Films is a production company I formed to make movies for myself. Somewhere Dinesh has to grow and make films for himself as well. I don’t necessarily want to produce films with other people. So he must do it on his own. I also work for other production houses. He can’t sit around waiting for me to be free and then begin work on something.
So everything was amicably settled between you two then?
There was a rough patch in the middle because I’d walk into my office and catch another actor sitting in my cabin. I didn’t know what he was doing there. Apparently, he was working in my production. That led to friction. But we’ve sorted it out. We have Illuminati together and he has his own company to do everything else he wants to do.
Of late, you’ve not had a great run at the movies…
When you’re doing well, you get offered different kinds of movies. You believe you’ll be able to do them… Maybe you can’t…
But you’ve never been one to follow the flock.
Yes. But when you get offered different stuff, you believe it will be nice to work with different directors. The most epic and most painful flop would be something you believed in.
I didn’t. Now I don’t want to upset Sajid Khan again, who I am fond of.
You patched up with him recently.
In a rather public and ridiculous fashion. He was upset with me.
That interview you gave post the film’s release was public too…
Yeah, now I don’t want to reverse all the good I’ve done. Usually, I do mean what I say when I say it. I felt the way at that time. I hugged him now because I love him. Our relationship is beyond the movies. I missed him in my life immensely.
Did he feel bad about that interview?
Yes, he did. Because he takes these things to heart. There’s a difference in the way we both saw that situation. Perhaps it was a bit insensitive…
But you don’t regret it?
No. I felt like that at the time. If it came across like I was abandoning the film, it wasn’t what I meant. All I meant was that in retrospect, we should have done something better and it was a bit of a mistake’ doing this film in this particular way. You know, some actor even told him if I felt that way about the film, I shouldn’t have promoted it. But that’s even more criminal. You have to promote your movie. People talk s*** . Who cares! No one likes anyone in the industry. I actually do like Sajid.
So will you work with him again?
This time, I will have to love the script. Last time it was on his conviction. This time, it will be mine.
People said they were disappointed that you did such a film…
Sometimes you just back a director’s conviction and go with it. The honest truth is that Sajid meant to entertain. He didn’t mean to insult people. He got flak for it. Poor guy. Maybe he rubs people the wrong way… Plus, once so much negativity is out there, it snowballs into something huge. (Laughs) People look at you like you don’t know a film from a hole in the wall. You get lectures on how to choose your films even from the staff in your office.
Romcoms are your niche. You agree?
Yeah. I like the conversational style of acting. So I can offer it as competition to others and say, This is what I do best’. I have a certain spirit and energy, which if used well on screen, can be unique.
Being the romcom king, has your definition of love changed over the years?
(Pauses) Now I know that love is verb. It has to be practised. It’s not just a word. You are your actions.
Recently, your love jihad letter in a publication won you raves…
Well, for some, I’m suddenly the expert on love jihad. Though most liked it, this one guy, wrote a letter saying that I’d missed crucial points in my essay. Like the fact that my mother married my father (the late cricketer Mansoor Ali Khan) and converted to his religion and that she deserved credit for that. This is true. I wrote just one point of view. That’s why I love the Internet. There’s give and take. You can learn so much.
One lesson you’ve learnt…
That a situation can be fixed if you try. And that people are forgiving.
Tagged Saif Ali Khan