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Saif Ali Khan
Chhota Nawab Saif Ali Khan’s decade-long journey from debut Aashiq Awara may not have been smooth sailing. But with Hum Tum and an earlier solo-starrer, Ek Hasina Thi, he is now being hailed as a star who has finally arrived. Excerpts from a candid conversation:

The Record (TR): After Hum Tum, you are now the star actor who has finally arrived. How does it feel?
Saif: Great! Really great! To be honest, now I really feel secure. And the feeling of being known is too good to be true. Even my performances are now being genuinely appreciated, instead of being just written off. Finally, I am being considered a bankable actor, who can draw in the crowds, by the filmmakers, the distributors, the critics, the trade pundits and fans.

TR: You started as a solo actor in Aashiq Awara, Aao Pyar Karein and Dil Tera Deewana. Now with Ek Hasina Thi and Hum Tum, the cycle is complete. So what went wrong in between?
Saif: Nothing went wrong in the in-between phase. I think everything had gone wrong in the initial stage itself. Yes, whatever solo films I had done had failed miserably at the box office. I had even been labeled as a jinxed actor.

TR: You weren’t disillusioned enough to call it quits?
Saif: No, no way! That would have gone against my nature as I hate being known as a loser. So I fought back and so here I am still holding my own and successfully too.

TR: What steps did you take to overcome the jinx?
Saif: First, I tried to analyse my shortcomings with a thorough introspection. Then I made a final decision to take on the parallel actor’s roles, which were luckily offered to me. I also realised I could cash in on my flair for comedy, as my friends and near and dear ones were of the firm opinion that I was a fun guy to be with.

TR: You seemed to have bonded well with Akshay Kumar and Shah Rukh Khan …
Saif: I know! I Know! Since I did films like Main Khiladi Tu Anari and Main Chor Tu Sipahi with Akshay Kumar and Kal Ho Na Ho with Shah Rukh Khan, this male bonding business has been stretched a bit too far. I have started taking it in my stride as a part of my profession. Phir meri life mein Kal Ho Na Ho, I will never again take up such a role.

TR: Did it affect you when you were hailed as a gay icon after the success of these films?
Saif: No. Not in the least bit. I know how to make a distinctive demarcation between my personal and my professional life. Yet, to be very honest I did enjoy being known as the gay icon, especially after Kal Ho Na Ho. Come to think of it, after I had done films like Main Khiladi Tu Anari and Main Chor Tu Sipahi with Akshay Kumar, the entire gay community of Mumbai it seems was very hurt and upset, had vowed and even threatened to kill me as they had felt I had made a mockery of their sentiments and the kind of relationships they share.

TR: On screen, it was Kantaben who was scandalised by your intimate scenes with Shah Rukh Khan. But while repeating the entire scenario on a live stage, the entire gathering was shocked...
Saif: Oh! Come on! We were just having fun during the awards ceremony. I agree that initially the gathering was shocked out of their wits especially with our pretend lip-lock scene. But then there was a deafening guffaws reverberatingly echoing in the entire auditorium. So I think ultimately everybody present had a great time at our expense.

You can read the rest of exclusive with Saif Ali Khan in the October 2004 issue of The Record Music Magazine available at your local newsagent.

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