IN A CAREER SPANNING over two decades, Saif Ali Khan has gone from being the boy no one took seriously to a poster boy for the urban Indian man, to a man finding his comfort zone as an actor- producer. His sharp wit, worldly intellect and sobering realness reflect the many worlds he has traversed personally and professionally. The 46-year-old father of a newborn, Taimur, takes time out to discuss his legacy and why acting like a twit to promote a movie is the worst part of his job.
Do you ever think about your legacy? About how you’d like to be remembered as an actor?
I’d like to be remembered as an actor who took some chances. And someone, who did a mixture of commercial stuff as well as films to promote something independent and interesting. (Pause) I’ve not thought of my legacy as an actor, but I think, I do represent a section of the audience, who are not 100 per cent mainstream, but a little more urban.
The reason I ask is that you started off doing ‘masala’ films. Then, in the early 2000s, you were one of the first actors to experiment with ‘multiplex’ films like Ek Hasina Thi, Dil Chahta Hai and so on. But then you turned producer and veered away from a content-driven niche.
I think you’re absolutely right. Perhaps I got a little waylaid, or bored, or side-tracked with other things; my personal life took preference and maybe I did not focus so much on being an interesting actor as I did on the commercials. And I think I have paid a price for that. I had a bit of a wake-up call, and I’m certainly back to thinking the way I was. If you look at my films this year, the first thing I turned to was a Vishal Bhardwaj movie, and thank God I did (chuckles). I’m lucky to get the chance, despite the mess of the years before. To be Vishal’s first choice, Akshat’s (Verma) first choice, Raja Menon’s first choice is like an achievement, and I need to prove myself and the credibility of my acting with these three movies [Rangoon, Kaalakandi and Chef, respectively]. And I think I have the capability of doing it. I know times are changing fast, and nothing can be taken for granted.