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Saif Ali Khan: Working on Humshakals was tiring

Last updated on: June 17, 2014 19:02 IST
Saif Ali Khan

Saif Ali Khan, on how he had to move out of his comfort zone to work in Sajid Khan's upcoming multistarrer comedy.

Known for playing urban characters set in urban, upscale milieus, Saif Ali Khan is gradually moving out of his comfort zone and trying to experiment.

In a radical departure from the kind of films he is usually associated with, Saif enters the Sajid Khan school of comedy with the director's upcoming multistarrer Humshakals, in which he plays not one but three roles along side costars Riteish Deshmukh and Ram Kapoor.

The 43-year-old actor-producer speaks to's Sonil Dedhia about this transitional phase in his career, why he agreed to do Humshakals and his plans to make a documentary on his father's (Mansoor Ali Khan Pataudi) life.

You had a lot of expectations from your last release, Bullett Raja. But the film failed to impress critics and the audience.

Bullett Raja was a lot of fun.

I found it interesting to watch. I don't know what went wrong. People say it felt like it was neither here nor there.

The film made the money a Tigmanshu Dhulia film is expected to make.

I have experimented with films like Go Goa Gone and Being Cyrus, which people say a lot of nice things about.

But the numbers haven't really been that encouraging. It would be nice if those films did better at the box office.

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'Sex comedies can be a little dangerous because there is no dignity and respect'

Last updated on: June 17, 2014 19:02 IST
Riteish Deshmukh and Saif Ali Khan in Humshakals

You seem to be experimenting with roles now. Was that a conscious decision you have made?

Yes, it is. It is not easy to experiment.

I have reached a stage in my career where I can do different kinds of roles with confidence.

It took time for me to learn that art. I don't think I could have done a film like Humshakals 10 years ago. Today, I can do a film like Bullet Raja with confidence too.

Whether it works or not is not in my hands. I think it is the duty of an actor to do something entertaining, yet different, for his audience. And that is what I am doing.

Would you like to do a sex comedy?

Why not?

It will be nice if it is not vulgar, and it should be funny.

Comedy is a liberating thing. But sex comedies can be a little dangerous because there is no dignity and respect sometimes.

Also, people are nervous to talk about sex and pretend as if it doesn't happen.

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'Sajid works very hard to entertain people; his films are pan-Indian comedies'

Last updated on: June 17, 2014 19:02 IST
Saif Ali Khan and Esha Gupta in Humshakals

Were you apprehensive about doing Humshakals since your brand of comedy is quite different from Sajid's?

No, not all. I wanted to work with Sajid and that's because I think we should all get out of our comfort zones and try something different.

Sajid works very hard to entertain people; his films are pan-India comedies. His films, Housefull and Housefull 2 made more money than my films.

One wants to do films that have a wider appeal and reach. So if you want to make a big comedy with a pan-Indian appeal, who do you do it with? Sajid Khan is among the top names in this space.

That said, it was very tiring to do Humshakals. I had to play four different roles -- a girl, an effeminate boy, a normal hero and a brain damaged person.

An inexperienced actor cannot do a film like this.

Normal things do not interest Sajid. He is either laughing or not happy at all. He laughs more than any person I have known. I laughed more with him than I have in my whole career.

Would you say that Humshakals has been your most spontaneous performance in a long time?

Yes, that's right. Though Sajid insisted on preparing beforehand, I told him not to give me a narration because I knew he would change it on the sets.

I told him that I am going to imitate him. I told him to tell me what I must do on the day of the shoot.

But isn't that difficult to do for an actor? 

Sometimes, while we were performing, Sajid would cut the shot and say 'Mazaa nahi aa raha hai. Ab aise karte hai… (It's no fun, let's try something different)' and change everything.

Initially, that was taxing and frightening. But after a point you begin to trust him. The overall experience of working on Humshakals was liberating.

Like I said, this kind of entertainment is not for inexperienced actors.

It's like swimming in the deep end. This is not a safe zone, and anything can happen.

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'I don't think I am a good mimic'

Last updated on: June 17, 2014 19:02 IST
Saif Ali Khan and Tamannaah Bhatia in Humshakals

You have mimicked a lot of actors, including your father-in-law (Randhir Kapoor) in the film. Has he or Kareena seen it?

It is difficult to do mimicry. I don't think I am a good mimic. I think Riteish does it well.

Sajid is also good at imitating people and I just followed his instructions.

I did not inform my father-in-law about this (mimicry part in the film). He hasn't seen it yet.

Imitation is the highest form of flattery. It's a compliment. Kareena has seen it and she thinks it is funny.

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'You can't control your kids beyond a point'

Last updated on: June 17, 2014 19:02 IST
Riteish Deshmukh and Saif Ali Khan in Humshakals

You were planning to make a documentary on your father's life…

Yes, I am still working on it.

We are trying to find as much footage as we can. There was not much footage available when he played cricket. I have some videos but that isn't enough.

Which period of your father's life did you like the best?

I think the 1960s was the best, when he was in his best form as a cricketer.

His life revolved around cricket and he enjoyed it. He was a little unhappy when he couldn't play.

But at the same time, I have also heard that he was bored of cricket.

He was a different person. He wasn't attached to things. He was capable of saying that he doesn't want to play cricket because he has played too much.

Do you think you're like your father?

I think I am. I think I am detached like him. I enjoy the idea of living life properly rather than doing what people think I should be doing.

I think it is important to go on holidays with one's family or by myself or read a book.

In the afternoon I like to spend the day watching the rains rather than running around and being crazy. I think that is like him.

Could you share some memories of your father?

He was an amazing role model for us (he and his siblings Soha and Saba).

He never told us what to do. He had high expectations and we tried to live up to it.

He had a great sense of humour.

My father always lived like a prince. He was a dignified and down to earth person who valued people and money.

Are you like your father as a parent?

A little bit.

I give them a lot of space and don't interfere in their lives too much. I think you can't control kids beyond a point.

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'My daughter is a fan of Parineeti and thinks she is the best actress'

Last updated on: June 17, 2014 19:02 IST
Saif Ali Khan in Race 2

There is speculation that your daughter Sara will soon become an actress.

I don't know about that yet.

She is currently in Columbia (USA) and has just finished her first year of college. I will support her in whatever she wants to do.

I think she wants to work in some form of government agency, I don't know exactly. I think she wants to do political science.

Tell us about the film that you are doing with Kangna Ranaut and another film with Parineeti Chopra.

My daughter is a fan of Parineeti and thinks she is the best actress.

The film with Parineeti is a romantic comedy.

My film with Kangna is a love story which will be directed by Reema Kagti. Kangana is the perfect choice for that film.

I am also doing Race 3 and I am really excited about it.

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'I don't think I am fit for Hollywood'

Last updated on: June 17, 2014 19:02 IST
Movie poster of Humshakals

Kareena said in an interview that you would be a better fit for films in Hollywood.

I hope she didn't mean it in a sarcastic way (laughs).

Personally, I don't think I am fit for it. If you are good looking and interesting, people think you can get work abroad.

But there are thousands and thousands of people abroad who are amazing looking and they are not getting work.

Your company Illumanti Films is launching Kareena's cousin Armaan Jain in Lekar Hum Deewana Dil. Is mentoring new talent the next step for you as a producer?

I don't know about mentoring. We just like making films.

There are some films where I don't fit, so the company should make movies with other people as well. It's a normal thing.

There is a perception that you are launching him because he is Kareena's cousin.

Of course not! He is doing this film because he looks like a bright prospect.

Nobody is here just to support members of the family.

It's just that this family has so much talent. Each one of them has delivered more than a few super hit films. It's an amazing thing.

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