In fact, there is a 99% possibility that he can be declared as the sexiest man alive in Bollywood. So there he was; he walks up to the stage with an English walk, wearing the summer cliche white shirt and blue denims. His brown boots, brown sun-glasses and belt make him the ultimate spaghetti western and a true style icon of Hindi cinema. For the genial Indian actor, there is more than usual at stake because Love Aaj Kal is too personal for him.
Not only is Saif inspired by his idol Clint Eastwood, he also recalls what the American actor once said, "The worst step I can ever take is to get into production. So I've named my company 'Malpaso' which means a bad step". Khan quotes, "I think that was very brave and bold." We meet the desi cowboy in videsi style to talk all about Love Aaj Kal, Deepika Padukone, Kareena Kapoor, Imtiaz Ali, his take on life, career and how to play it safe in love. Over to Saif in Love!
As a debutant producer
"You are never hundred percent satisfied as a producer. Every detail has to be organized. Even if you want a glass of water, it has to be organized. We've learnt a lot of things into our maiden venture and my dear friend and partner Mr. Dinesh Vijan has been a great support. Our entire team of Illuminati is fantastic. But it was Imtiaz Ali who told me that he wanted me to only be an actor as he didn't like me to handle the production problems. Yes, creatively, in terms of promos, posters, etc I've been actively involved with. Being a producer is sometimes frightening but it's also exciting. I'm in a positive frame of mind with Love Aaj Kal."
Advice from Karan Johar, Farhan Akhtar
I've been fortunate enough to work in a few very good productions. My only success in cinema came from working with big banners like Yash Raj, Excel Entertainment, Dharma Productions, etc. I'm fortunate enough to have friends in the industry who're producers too. Karan Johar and Farhan Akhtar would be happy to advice me on the finer tips about production if ever I asked them for one. I haven't called anyone to ask for help. I'm not saying that I know everything about production but I believe that everything is a learning process and somehow we've managed to make our first film."
Getting into Production
"My interest really is not so much in production. But after working for eighteen years you feel that it'll be nice to own a little bit of what you're working for and work a little bit more for yourself and be creatively involved. When your own money is involved, the inputs from friends, colleagues mean something else. So I wanted to learn that level of involvement and business that has given me so much. Today, I do feel more ready as a producer, an independent one because there aren't any independent producers left. All have turned into one big production house."
The mystery woman
"There isn't any mystery surrounding the second actress in Love Aaj Kal. Her name is Harleen. She isn't here as a part of the promotion for the film because we felt that the main focus of the movie is Deepika and myself in terms of characters. Harleen isn't someone whom we've kept deliberately away from you. She is very good in the film."
"When you hear a script and hear a vibe from somebody, it works for me. A famous actor once said, 'The clever thing an actor does is not acting, it's the listening he does'. I'm a good listener. So when Imtiaz narrated me the script, I decided that we should go ahead with the film."
Love 1965 to 2009
"I think the experience of love is the same. A lot of cinematic and real life love stories have certain obstacles. In today's time it could be career, distance, etc. The process of falling in love may be different in two different eras but the feeling is the same. That is pretty much what Love Aaj Kal is about. There is a 1965 love kal and 2009 love aaj. So there is a story within the story and it's not really a comparison between two different eras. I'm not playing a double role and Imtiaz Ali isn't going to make a film which is confusing."
Saif Ali Khan - the lover
"I guess everybody has the same definition for love. I mean, I am lovey-dovey kinds but also a bit practical and if you're saying that there is too much love happening in my life, I think it's a little bit unfair. That's got a lot to do with the media (laughs). Yes, I've got a lot of love in my life which is a good thing."
"Deepika's personality grounds my personality on screen; in a way what Rani Mukherjee does because we are different types. I'm a little more western in my things and she is a little more earthy. That mixture makes an interesting chemistry on screen."
Playing a Sardar
"To play a Sardar, I had some responsibilities to it also. We met various members of some Sikh organizations like the Akalis. They were all very happy when they heard about the film and my role. Dolly Tiwari who has done my clothes in the film has been so perfect to dress me up as one. A lot of Sardarji's will be very proud for the honourable representation that this character has given in the film. I had to work on the accent a little bit."
"IIFA is a great platform to promote your film as long as it suits everybody. The main performance slot is the first one or the last one and they both were already taken. The opening act was already booked and the Bachchans are doing the grand finale at this year's IIFA. So we didn't want to dissolve our film somewhere in the middle."
On Salman and Akshay playing a Sardar
"I haven't seen Salman Khan's film Heroes but I have seen Akshay's Singh is Kinng. I thought that it was a very glamorous and a cool kind of a film and I think he looked very good. The outfits were larger than life but the Sardar I'm playing is very down to earth and there is no comparison. You should see a film as a new and a different world and only then you'll enjoy it. We can compare between us but the idea is just to be genuine within that and not really think about others."