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'Esha took a risk working with me'
Ronjita Kulkarni | January 27, 2003 16:53 IST
"Some filmi dance steps look funny and stupid. But you have to get over that. You have to convince yourself to just do it. It might end up looking nice."
Zayed Khan, 24, has come to an understanding with his profession.
He loves dancing to Kylie Minogue at nightclubs, but his dancing skills in his debut film Chura Liyaa Hai Tumne has him grinning apologetically: "Synchronised dancing is different. There are so many people dancing behind you screwing up most of the time. I had to work hard on my dancing."
Son of yesteryear actor-turned-director Sanjay Khan, films and film personalities were a way of life for Zayed. A regular on his father's sets, Zayed still remembers his father's last film Kala Dhanda Gore Log (1986). "There was a lot of energy, huge sets and busy people. I remember Sunil Dutt was doing an emotional scene; he was crying. I could not understand why. It made me very upset. I kept asking my father why he was crying."
"People say I chose my father's trade," he says, reflectively, adding, "I think acting chose me. I don't know when the [acting] bug bit me. When you are a child, you are like a sponge absorbing everything. I knew all my life that I would become an actor.�
He explains he did not have an easy entry into films: "Most producers thought I was young and not well built enough. I told them I wanted them to capitalise on me as I was so passionate about films. I said that passion will be there only for some time. I wanted good producers to take advantage of that. They were amused and sceptical. No one signed me."
Chura Liyaa Hai Tumne happened to Zayed on the sets of Vikram Bhatt's Aap Mujhe Achche Lagne Lage, starring his brother-in-law Hrithik Roshan [who is married to Zayed's sister Suzanne]. Zayed was supposed to do Aitbaar with Bhatt but it fell through (the role eventually went to John Abraham).
"I loved the script [of Chura Liyaa Hai Tumne]. It is the kind of film I would want to watch. It is an action thriller with romance as a by-product," he says.
Acting also meant Zayed had to get used to the media. "A section of the media covered the first day of shooting. I was very media shy then. There were so many people watching you perform with expectations the size of Mount Everest! I was nervous, anxious yet excited." All this for a shot as simple as walking [costar] Esha Deol to her hotel [supposedly in Bangkok].
He met costar Esha for the first time on the sets of film, "She's very kind to do a film with a newcomer like me, especially since she has worked with the best actors. Working with me was a risk for her. She played her character very convincingly. And that helped me to be convincing too. I just reacted to what she did."
Earlier, Zayed spent two years in London studying filmmaking. He specialised in acting and directing. That is why he relates to the director of Chura Liyaa Sangeeth Sivan very well. "He is technically perfect, an adventurer. He's in love with his camera. He loves to experiment and go beyond certain norms, just like me," states Zayed.
Even before the release of his first film, Zayed's diary is full. His next film is Farah Khan's directorial debut Mein Hoon Na, starring Shah Rukh Khan. Zayed cannot stop raving about his namesake. "Shah Rukh is fantastic! The experience and broad framework of acting that he brings to the sets is unbelievable. On the sets, I had a few ideas about acting, but was sceptical about doing them. I thought people would not take to it kindly, since I was new. But Shah Rukh agreed with my views and put my fears to rest.
"You can learn volumes about acting by just observing him [Shah Rukh Khan]," Zayed continues. "Shah Rukh brings the scene to life. He taught me not to be mechanical, to look at things straight and do it differently, to add a new perspective. He's a Pandora's box, full of innovation."
Zayed looks to his father Sanjay Khan for tips too. "He gives me tips on body language and dialogue delivery. There is a certain ada [style] in the way yesteryear actors spoke. It was so melodious. It comes from reading a lot of poetry. My dad has that. I tried to learn that from him. He also taught me to say more with less [words]."
No one in Zayed's family watched him act on the sets or has seen Chura Liyaa. But Zayed says Sangeeth and Esha "loved my comedy, action and screen presence."
Zayed says, about his performance, "I don't actually 'see' myself, I see how long the scene holds," he claims. "Is the scene holding my interest? Because if it is not, no matter how well I acted or how many days it took me to learn the dialogues, the scene is chopped. I find the film very entertaining.
"One must always consider oneself as a student. Most actors -- be it Amitabh Bachchan or Shah Rukh -- still consider themselves to be students, learning every day. Acting is not a job. It's a never-ending process. One must also be open to criticism always."