Saif Ali Khan is currently biding his time like a bull in a bear market. This was a given after two of his big budget films— Tigmanshu Dhulia’s action drama Bullett Raja and Sajid Khan’s slapstick comedy Humshakals—crashed at the box-office, leaving him high-and-dry as a film star in an increasingly competitive industry. However, Saif shows no hint of jittery nerves, neither is he afraid of being written off. Perhaps, this is the effect of having struggled as an actor for a long time and having been written off many times. “As long you are enjoying the kind of work you do, it is all good,” he says.
Khan is at Mehboob Studios in Bandra, a popular haunt of Bollywood actors for interviews and film promotions. He has arrived in his sleek red Audi, and the vehicle is making more heads turn than his presence is. He smiles as people gather around his car to admire it. He exchanges hellos with his erstwhile business partner Dinesh Vijan and gets into his vanity van, which is also painted a bright red hue. Red, then, seems a favourite with the Nawab of Pataudi. Or it could be wife Kareena Kapoor’s choice.
He starts rehearsing his lines for a television show as part of a promotional appearance for his just-released film Happy Ending. Unlike many actors, who don’t enjoy the film marketing drill, Saif Ali Khan is taking it in his stride. He is in an upbeat mood, making conversation with almost everyone who approaches him. After his round of official meetings, he invites me inside the van for the interview. His upbringing is immediately evident. He apologises for making me wait outside, stands up to greet me, and sits down only after I have taken my seat. He is very much the person one wishes most famous people would be: unrehearsed, and well-mannered.