Recently we got candid with the cool and calm Saif Ali Khan – who spoke to us about his forthcoming film ‘Kaalakaandi’ as to how interesting the story is that comes out of a very relatable India. He is humorous and poised even when he talks serious business!  Here is what he has to say – uncensored, unapologetic and straight from his heart. Excerpts

Could you tell us in what zone ‘Kaalakaandi’ is?

I just think ‘Kaalakaandi’ is like a proper international, sensible, funny, engaging movie. It doesn’t fit the typical Bollywood kind of potboiler but it is a very satisfying film. Like when you see it you feel that it’s got something for everyone and it’s a very entertaining movie. I mean it is something that makes you laughs, sometimes makes you cry a little bit and it is a film that comes out of a very relatable India. I am proud that Akshat Verma said that he wants to be the only guy who wants to make different films that are coming out of India. It is not necessary that we only have to make a certain kind of movie; there are lots of different kinds of movies being made. What I like about this is that it has got drama, action. It’s not a quiet film but it’s quite a crazy film.

What do you have to say about the title of the film? Who decided Kaalakaandi as a title?

You know, first, the title was Kaalagandi but then somebody said what does that mean? People were like it means problem, so we said, “no, it doesn’t mean a problem” (Laughs). “It means black bum!” (Laughs). So they said that we have to change it. They said Kaalakaandi kar do! That’s how it changed.

Was it that black humour that attracted you to do this film?

No, I just liked the story, I liked the way how all the stories connect, all the crazy things which happen in one night. And it’s a nice fun thing to do and I am really happy that I did it. Everyone will enjoy this film.

Your film will be clashing with films like ‘1921’ and ‘Mukkabaaz’ anything that bothers?

There are so many films being made, so I think finding dates has become a big thing. I had only one film (Race 2) in my career that was released on a holiday. I wish I would have more holiday releases. But they all are taken usually by other films. ‘Race 2’ released on a holiday and it had an opening of 12-13 crore. So, it helps; release dates are very important.

 You took a lot of time to decide to do this film. What was the reason behind it?

I don’t know. I think at that time, it wasn’t something I was looking at! And then nobody picked it up, it’s been around for 2 years. Vishal Bharadwaj said that I should read it, I would like it. So I read it and I did like it.

Would we see you doing a film with Vishal Bhardwaj again soon?

Yes, sure! I would love to! He is a great director. Some of Vishal ji’s ideas I love and some of I don’t love as much. So, if I love it, I would love to do it.

What did you find so challenging in the role?

It’s about a guy who is really boring and he has never done anything wrong in his life. So, that was quite challenging. Then it was about how he takes this drug and then goes a little crazy. So, to do that properly and not stupidly was quite challenging.

You have been considered as one of the most bankable actors for the longest period of time…

By whom? I don’t think I am! Films have to run at a certain level at the box office.

Are you working on it?

Yes, I think so. The biggest trick is not to take it personally. Like the first thought would be that maybe people don’t like you but I think it’s not that. You have to do a film which they want to see. They have to like the world of the movie and that’s always challenging for me because I have slightly niche taste in films. The things that excite me and the things excite the filmmakers I like, might not be the most popular choices sometimes. Like ‘Bazaar’ is definitely more commercial.

Do you feel that even marketing is a big thing in today’s time? Like your film ‘Chef’ got good reviews but the buzz of the film was not that much…

Absolutely! I think marketing is the main thing. And it costs a lot of money to market films. So, the people think that if an actor runs around or goes in TV shows, but 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, posters, they want to decide for themselves, they want to sample the merchandise, and they want to feel whether they want to see a film or not.

“I had only one film (Race 2) in my career that was released on a holiday. I wish I would have more holiday releases”

Most actors say that public review doesn’t matter to them anymore as today everyone has become a critic. So do you feel the same?

No, I think reviews matter. I like to read reviews to see if there’s something negative. But the most times if I have worked slightly hard, reviewers like me. For ‘Rangoon’, I got really good reviews. So I think my acting has changed this year. People say that after ‘Omkara’, I have done good work in ‘Chef’. So, I have had good reviews. That also doesn’t matter. The bad reviews, you try and understand what they mean. Like ‘Phantom’, I had some bad reviews; people said that it’s very wooden. Maybe because I was trying to play that character very seriously but I forgot to give it any life. So, these things happen. I learn from the reviews.

Your last few films didn’t work at the box office. So does it upset you and did that add pressure on you every time you work on a new film?

No, not really. I mean it is upsetting but it doesn’t add pressure because that’s not the right way to think.

You are entering the digital world with a Netflix series, ‘Sacred Games’. But we have seen that you are far away from the social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram. What is the reason behind this?

I don’t know I like the real world; I am vary of the digital world. Because people can get lost in it and it can take your time, looking around and talking to people. People are losing the art of conversation. The importance of whether people like what you are doing, if that becomes more important, then it can be dangerous. Also I find things like Instagram would be me showing off! What would I do? It’s showing off, I will say this is my house, this is my horse in Pataudi; what do I put on Instagram? This is my son he is quite famous! He is a superstar baby. The love that you have given to the baby is kind so far, let’s see what happens later! (Laughs).

There had been censor issues with this film and it got delayed too; why so?

Nothing! The film has a bit of bad language; it’s got a little risky stuff going on because it’s an honest proper film. So I am happy that even if the censor board said that you can’t make this film and you are going to have 73 cuts but there is a body, FCAT, who could see the film that it’s an honest film. They understand that it’s a proper movie. So they passed it. There’s a process to everything and I am not bothered because it’s not going to hurt me in any way.

The last film you watched was?

I think ‘Baahubali 2’ and ‘Dangal’ are the last 2 films that I have seen. But I should watch more. I keep thinking that I will watch first-day first show, I really want to. But honestly, I have done a lot of work this year- ‘Sacred Games’, ‘Bazaar’, ‘Kaalakaandi’ and parts of ‘Chef’.

 What’s next now?

Well, there’s ‘Bazaar’ which is a nice commercial potboiler on the stock market. There is ‘Scared Games’ and the film that I am excited about is Navdeep Singh and Aanand Rai’s next with R Madhavan.

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