Archive for the Interview Category

Interview | Saif Ali Khan: I think more like an actor than a star

Posted in Interview with tags , , , , , on January 28, 2018 by saifalikhanonline

Saif Ali Khan is facing a dry spell at the box office, but when it comes to his choices, the actor is making some unconventional moves. After all, not many stars would have attempted something like Kaalakaandi, or maybe jump on the web series bandwagon with Sacred Games. Saif has done all that and despite the misses, he is still raring to go. In this conversation, he talks about what keeps him motivated and why he would like to be labelled as an actor rather than a star. Over to him.

You have time and again visited the dark space in cinema. Does it excite you?

You are right. I have always enjoyed this space. After all, the idea is to do everything and be creative. When you are doing some mad stuff, it’s fun. After that, you just come home and have fun. There’s nothing like it, right? I think a good actor’s need is to be saleable and at the same time, they should be trying to make some out-of-the-box choices in movies. It’s interesting to do that in art. But yes, you do need to keep an eye on the numbers too.

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I don’t take being a nawab seriously: Saif Ali Khan on the comic darkness in Kaalakaandi

Posted in Interview with tags , , , , , , , , on January 11, 2018 by saifalikhanonline

In a casual mood, the scion of the house of Pataudi sat down to speak to reporters about his attempts to change, the world of Kaalakaandi, and why he stays away from the digital world.

Staying calm must come easy to those working under the spotlight. As Saif Ali Khan walks in for an interview in the vast expanse of the JW Marriott in Juhu, it is easy to forget that the actor has spent the best part of the day interacting with journalists answering questions on loop. Despite that, he remains unflustered as he takes on another session to talk about his role in Akshat Verma’s upcoming directorial debut Kaalakaandi.

Khan has given up his usual suave, sober appeal to play a man going all out in the dark comedy set in Mumbai. With Verma providing the biting satire and comical lines, Khan’s wackiness is the highlight of a very oddball film, a quality he displayed with elan at the interaction.

“There have been so many things in the past,” he said of the craziest things he had done, “now I just want to try and keep quiet.” This did not, however, stop him from confessing that he had ended up in the fountain outside the hotel lobby on a couple of occasions.

Last year was a mixed one for Khan. While the period drama Rangoon failed to work at the box office, Chef, a remake of the 2014 Hollywood cult hit of the same name, managed to earn the actor some good reviews.

With Kaalakaandi, Khan is now looking to push the boundaries and return to the form of Omkara (2006) and Being Cyrus (2006), two films which cemented his place as an actor. Excerpts from the interview:

Ever since the trailer came out, the film looks like it is in the same zone as Being Cyrus. However, you had stated that it is a very different film. Can you elaborate on that?

I just think Kaalakaandi is a proper international, sensible, funny, engaging movie. It doesn’t fit the typical ‘Bollywood’ potboiler zone. I think it is a very satisfying film. When you see it you feel that it has got something for everyone. That sounds like I am trying to sell it (laughs).

At least for me, it is a really entertaining movie. It makes you laugh, makes you cry a little. It is a film that comes out of a very relatable India. I am proud.

Akshat Verma said he wants to make different films coming out of India. It is not necessary that you only make a certain kind of movie. There are very different films being made.

What I like about this is that it has got a little drama, a little action. It is not a quiet movie.

How do you describe the title, Kaalakaandi?

You know, first the title was Kaalagaandi and we said, ‘What does that mean?’ People said it means problem. No, it does not mean problem, it means ‘black bum’. So they said, ‘OK, we have to change that!’ So they made it Kaalakaandi. That’s how it changed.

Akshat said it is his estate agent who would often say, ‘Sir, sorry, aaj kaalakaandi ho gaya [Everything is messed up today].’ That’s how he got the idea.

Was it the black humour that attracted you to the film?

No, I just liked the story. I like the way how all the stories connect. Crazy things happen in one night. It is a fun thing to do, you know. I am really happy I did it. People will enjoy this film.

The film was shot at night. Tell us a bit about the shooting process.

It is annoying to do films at night. The system goes crazy. You have to be awake at night and sleep in the day. Luckily, it wasn’t too long.

I loved shooting in areas that are real though. Like Bandra, Juhu. It reminds me of my own life. I relate more when I see people shooting less on set and shooting more on live locations. A lot of Sacred Games [the Netflix series in which Khan plays a starring role] was shot without lights as well. Bombay is very cinematic, and you don’t need so much equipment to make it look amazing.

While you are now the nawab of Pataudi, it looks like the Jat from Pataudi has awakened in the trailers.

As long as it is the Jat with the lighter J. As long as it is pronounced right (laughs). I played a Jat in Omkara as well. This is just a similar sounding character, you know.

I think part of growing up in Pataudi and Bhopal is to be in touch with people. People are very different in cities. Bombay is like a potboiler. People come here from everywhere.

This country is quite different, in the farms, in the villages. I am quite aware of that as well.

I don’t take being a nawab very seriously, apart from looking after my family home and other things. I would rather be an actor than a nawab any day.

This year will see a lot of films clashing at the box office. Your film is opening with Mukkabaaz. What do you think of it?

There are so many films being made. I think finding dates has become a big thing. I have only had one film in my career which was released on a holiday. I wish I had more holiday releases. But they are all taken usually by other films. Race 2 was released on a holiday, and we had a Rs12-13 crore opening. It helps. Release dates are very important.

There was some delay before you agreed to come on board for the film. Any reason?

I don’t know. At that time it wasn’t something I was looking at. And nobody picked it up. It had been around for two years. Vishal Bhardwaj said, “You should read it. You will like it.” I read it. I did like it. So, I did it.

What did you find most challenging in the role?

Well, it is about a guy who is boring, and he has never done anything wrong in his life. That was quite challenging.

There is also a part about how he takes a drug and goes crazy. To do that properly, and not stupidly, was quite challenging.

You talked about Vishal Bhardwaj suggesting this script. Is there any other script of his you are looking at, after Rangoon?

Yes, of course. Why not? He is a great director. Some of Vishalji’s ideas I love. Some I don’t love so much. If there is anything I love, I would do it.

What’s the craziest thing you have done?

There have been so many things in the past. Now, I just want to try and keep quiet, and be well-behaved.

I think I have ended up in the Oberoi fountain a couple of times. In my youth. In the lobby (laughs).

You have been considered a bankable actor for the longest time….

By whom? Some Martian? That can be very stupid if they think of it.

Do you still feel you hold that position?

No. You are saying that. I don’t think I am.

Why not?

It is obvious why not. Films have to run at a certain level at the box office.

Are you doing something different to change it?

Yeah. I think so. I think the biggest trick is to not take it personally. The first thought would be that maybe people don’t like you. But it’s not that. I don’t think I am so important that people would say I don’t like Saif. You have to do the film that they have to say wow. It is the trailer they have to like. They have to like the world of the film. That is always challenging for me because, maybe, I have slightly niche tastes. The things that are exciting for me, for the filmmakers I like, may not be the most popular choices. Sometimes they are.

Inside commercial cinema to find challenging things is the answer. I think Baazaar is a more commercial film than Kaalakaandi.

Many directors and actors say they avoid reading reviews saying everyone is a critic. Do you agree?

No, I think reviews matter. I like to read reviews, and if there is something negative… Sometimes, if I have worked slightly hard also, reviewers like me. For Rangoon, I got really good reviews. I think my acting changed last year.

People said after Omkara I have done some really good work in Chef. I have had good reviews. That also doesn’t matter.

The bad reviews, you try and understand what they mean. In Phantom (2015), I had some bad reviews saying I was very wooden. Maybe because I was trying to play this character very seriously, but I forgot to give it any life. These things happen.

I learnt from the reviews.

Do you feel that marketing is a big thing in today’s times? Chef got good reviews and praise, but sadly was not a hit at the box office.

Absolutely. I think marketing is the main thing. It costs a lot of money to market films. So people think if the actor runs around and goes on TV shows, you can save money on publicity if the actor does it. But people are not interested in my opinion.

People want to see the trailer. They want to see the poster. They want to sample the merchandise. They want to feel whether they want to see the film.

And marketing is huge. Most people don’t understand it. They do the same thing for every film. You are doing the same questions, we are doing the same answer, and the same set-up is happening.

People will read this and realize he is trying to sell the movie. Whether they want to see the film is not related to this interview. This is to make the producer feel good that we are doing something.

Have you watched any Hindi films? Which was the last one you saw?

Yeah. The last one I saw was Dangal (2016). I don’t watch every film. I think Baahubali and Dangal are the last two films I’ve seen.

But I should watch more. I keep thinking I will watch first day, first show. I really want to.

Honestly, I have done a lot of work last year. My way of dealing with these films not running is to just keep quiet and just work.

Sacred Games is really tiring, and then there is Baazaar. We also shot Kaalakaandi and parts of Chef last year.

Your last few films did not do well. Did that upset you or add to the pressure on you?

No, not really. It is upsetting, but it did not add pressure. That’s not the right way to think. It is easy to take that pressure. It is not personal rejection. They [the audience] want to see you in a certain film in a certain way. It is difficult to define what that is.

Do you analyse what went wrong?

To a point, a little bit. For example, in Chef, people would have liked a much more energetic movie. With more cooking, and New York, and more drama. I think Indians like masala and more drama. But a lot of makers want to avoid that, because they want to be different. At that time, you think it is a good idea, but later you realize you should not try and change cinema. You should try and give people what they want.

Sacred Games marks your first venture on the digital medium. You have stayed away from any form of online interaction, even during promotions. Is there a specific reason?

I like to stay in the real world. I am wary of the digital world. You know, people can get lost in this thing. People are losing the art of conversation. The importance of whether people like what you are doing can be a little dangerous.

Also, I find things like Instagram would be me showing off, you know. What would I do? This is my house. This is my horse in Pataudi. This is my son.

Your son is quite famous though on social media.

Yeah, he is. So far. He is a superstar baby.

The attention is shifting to Sara and Taimur.

Well, attention is something that people give for various reasons. The attention that is earned is of a different quality. The love you have given the baby is very kind so far. Let’s see what happens later.

When can we see you and Kareena both together again?

Well, come home some time (laughs).

In a film.

I don’t know about that.

Several films have had issues with the CBFC [Central Board of Film Certification] recently, and this one as well. What do you have to say?

Nothing. The film has bad language, it has got a little risqué stuff going on because it is an honest, proper film. So I am happy that even if the censor board said you can’t make this film, you are going to have 73 cuts, there is an FCAT [Film Certification Appellate Tribunal] that could see the film is an honest film.

Akshat Verma is not an opportunist who is riding on bad language. They understand that it is a proper movie. So they passed it.

It just created one-week extra work, so it is no problem.

If you have content in the movie, you can make any film. But you have to be careful. On the internet, some of the films they are making, because there is no censorship, it is almost pornographic. You need to be careful in India because someone will abuse the freedom.

What other projects do you have lined up?

There is Baazaar, which is a nice, commercial potboiler. Apart from that, there is Sacred Games, which we have just wrapped up. But the film I am excited about is Navdeep Singh and Aanand L Rai’s next, with R Madhavan. I am also working with Nitin Kakkad at some point later on this year.

What kind of genres are you looking at now?

Anything. Changes. Films are quite tiring. If you are doing a heavy-duty action kind of movie then I suppose it would be nice to do a comedy in a better atmosphere.

Ever thought about taking up hosting offers on television? You must be getting a few.

No, not really. I am quite happy doing movies. TV (like Bigg Boss, interjects someone), that is for very special people.

You recently said Ibrahim and other youngsters aspire to be ‘Bollywood’ stars and not really actors.

I am glad you asked me that because I don’t remember mentioning Aarav. I have a great deal of respect for Akshay Kumar, and I don’t even know if Aarav wants to join movies. I might only have said Sara, and someone heard Aarav.

I am saying that Sara wants to be an actor and she has my support, obviously. If Ibrahim says he wants to be an actor, I hope it is because of wanting to be an actor, and not the lifestyle of a star or the vibe of a star. If he sees Salman Khan and says ‘even I want to be’ [like him], it should be for the right reasons. But, as my wife said, even for me it was that first. Only recently it became about acting.

So many actors get rediscovered on the web: Saif Ali Khan

Posted in Interview with tags , , , , , , , , on January 9, 2018 by saifalikhanonline

Saif Ali Khan, who will be seen in the series Sacred Games, on how the digital space gives a new lease of life to actors who are long forgotten.

Saif Ali Khan has exciting things to look forward to in 2018. Besides the black comedy Kaalakandi, which releases on January 12, the actor will be seen as a cop, Sartaj Singh, in Sacred Games.

Speaking at length about the web series, which is based on author Vikram Chandra’s bestseller by the same name, Saif is all praises for its directors Anurag Kashyap and Vikramaditya Motwane. Here, he tells us how the digital space has redefined entertainment viewing:

Web series is the present
Web series is not the future, it is the present. It is a very creative space. And budgets are huge. Netflix has a lot of money and they spend it on their product. They are quality conscious.

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Kaalakaandi director Akshat Varma: Saif Ali Khan took just five minutes to come on board

Posted in Interview with tags , , , , , on January 8, 2018 by saifalikhanonline

Writer-director Akshat Verma on his upcoming film Kaalakandi, learning to navigate Bollywood and living with the pressure of performance.

It was his first day as an intern in a newspaper office in Delhi. There was a shooting in the swish Greater Kailash neighbourhood and Akshat Verma, assigned to the crime beat, was asked to rush to the spot. Two boys had been “encountered” and the circumstances seemed suspicious. Today, when 47-year-old Verma looks back at the incident, all he can remember is brains splattered across a flower bed while the owner kept moaning that the two boys had to come die there.

Verma soon quit the profession for a career in advertising but the visual that stayed with him is just the kind that define his movies — surreal. The writer-director seeks out and collects such news clippings. His second film, Kaalakaandi, which comes six years after the success of the comic thriller Delhi Belly that he wrote, is also born out of something similar. Ahead of its release on January 12, the writer-director talks about the external and internal chaos that defines his characters and the frustrating need to prove himself over and over again in the film industry.

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Saif Ali Khan: ‘ Better to make Baahubali than Mahabharat’

Posted in Interview with tags , , , , on January 8, 2018 by saifalikhanonline

PARALLELS were drawn to Delhi Belly, specifically its excessive use of verbal profanity, when Saif Ali Khan’s Kaalakaandi arrived at the Censor Board for certification. With the makers refusing to oblige to an alleged request of > : cuts, fearing it may deplete the quality of the film, the team eventually tapped on the doors of the Film Certification Appellate Tribunal ( FCAT). In an interview to mid- day, Khan talks about the passing of his film after it arrived at the FCAT, and reflects on his life after being in the industry for almost three decades.

After facing issues with the Censor Board, Kaalakaandi is finally up for release.

Yes, I think going to the Film Certification Appellate Tribunal ( FCAT) was great. They passed The movie with one cut. See, not all bad words are offensive. When you show two mafia members, you have to show them as they are.

They’re crude. And that’s how they talk. You can give the film an A certificate if you don’t like the language. That will restrict the audience. But, it would be terrible to have candy floss movies where everyone speaks in the same way.

The film has gone through a bit of red tape, but it’s worked out well. I don’t feel like a victim of censorship.

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If you’re in the right film and look the part, people are interested: Saif Ali Khan

Posted in Interview with tags , , , , , , on January 6, 2018 by saifalikhanonline

Ahead of Kaalakaandi’s release next week, actor Saif Ali Khan talks about his next comedy, working on technique, and rediscovering Mumbai.

What’s Kaalakaandi about and how did you get interested in it?

When I was shooting for Rangoon, its director-writer Vishal Bhardwaj suggested that I read the script of Kaalakaandi. I liked the script which takes a very entertaining look at Mumbai. It offers an exciting story with a good arch for the lead actor. I play this man, who after finding out that he has stomach cancer, takes some ‘acid’ (a drug called lysergic acid diethylamide) and has the time of his life. By the end, his character undergoes a change. As an actor, it was interesting to have these small cameras shoot on live locations in Bandra and other parts of the city.

Did the movie help you rediscover the city?

If you take the camera around Mumbai, you will discover different set-ups and people. That’s exciting. Barring one day, we shot mostly at night. It is like Macbeth, in that sense. It has only one day scene. However, I discovered the city more while shooting for Sacred Games (produced by Netflix). It took us to places like Punjab Society, Andheri, Dharavi, lanes of south Mumbai and red light areas. We shot in grunge and felt Mumbai for what it is — the enormity of the city and the number of people trying to survive in it. What I am most excited about Kaalakaandi is that the language used in it is very true to the characters speaking it. The characters of Deepak Dobriyal and Vijay Raaz speak in Bombaiyaa Hindi. Sobhita Dhulipala and Kunal Roy Kapur speak a different Hindi compared to them, while my character speaks a bit more English.

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Saif Ali Khan: We’re a schizophrenic nation, civilised on one level and medieval on another

Posted in Interview with tags , , , , , , , on January 6, 2018 by saifalikhanonline

Not that old at 47, Saif Ali Khan – these days occasionally better known as Taimur’s dad – is still game to experiment and to learn from 25-year-old co-actors. Rigidity ages you, not years, he explains as he speaks on ageing, censorship, and how it’s difficult to frame rules for a society that is civilised and medieval at the same time.

Among other things, ‘ Kaalakaandi’ has also been talked about for, what, 73 cuts?

That’s what you started with, okay! So, 73 cuts. And then it went to the FCAT, and came out with one cut. One cut! It got a U/A rating. It got U/A on the trailer. It is some bad s*** in there.

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