He’s been around for over 25 years and only gotten better with time. Creating a niche for himself with some brave choices and outstanding performances, Saif Ali Khan has just proven to be something else with time. Ask him about the change in him, and he confesses, he doesn’t even remember the person he used to be.Guess what? When you speak to him about cinema or just life – you realise the experience he brings to the table. He continues to be charming in the most casual avatars and always makes for an interesting conversation, courtesy – his intellect. Excerpts from a rendezvous with him.

From the likes of your earlier films like ‘Main Khiladi Tu Anari’ (which also, by the way is cult), to those like ‘Dil Chahta Hai’, ‘Hum Tum’, and the ones you are doing now. Isn’t there quite an evolution? Also, in terms of how people perceive you?
Absolutely; and that’s also co-related to how I’ve evolved as a person in life. At one point you are just trying to survive and do something. At another point, you are trying to add something to it and be creative. The more experienced and evolved you are as a person, the more depth you can bring to the roles you play on-screen. So, yes, I’ve grown up by huge amounts from that boy who did ‘Main Khiladi Tu Anaari’ to this guy.

It’s also a different experience to see you now though….what has lead to that?
I think it’s having the courage to follow my heart and to make changes in my life; to end up in a place where I’m personally happy. Having walked slightly wild paths also, and experience things for myself, I’ve come to a wisdom and understanding of what’s healthy and what’s unhealthy and why it’s unhealthy. Earlier I remember, Mahesh Bhatt messing with my hair and telling me, you don’t know anything. You haven’t done anything, you’ve not experienced the guts to have lived life. At that point, I was too young to understand that, but I don’t think anyone can mess with my hair now (laughs), because I’ve lived a life also. You can’t do everything but you can do some things. And that was important to me, to have experienced things for myself. You tell your kids but everyone has to experience things really for themselves. You can try and keep them safe, my parents were trying to keep me safe, but if I’d just done that, I’d have too many questions that what is it out there, how is it like to go and do those things. I think education plays a huge role, and I don’t mean Howard and Oxford. If you are lucky enough, you can go to these universities. I never went to a university but I mean education through reading, understanding and thinking and feel a little enlightened. Although, enlightenment is a strong word. Culture is important. I just need a good book at the end of an evening.

Are you talking about being emotionally intelligent?
Not emotional actually. A lot of people who know me feel I’m not empathetic. Intellectually also, I’m not as intelligent, but I’m curious. I want to know things. So, I read. Also, I think, spiritually healthy people, or emotionally healthy people have understood that there is something larger than them, at play. The unhealthy ones are people who think, that they are it. So, whether it’s God, or knowledge, or anything you say, or cinema, or something bigger than you happening. There are many things which one has become aware of. Also the human brain is basically an amazing thing. If you are calm, and you give it time, things come to you. But, I don’t even recognise myself. I don’t remember the person I was. Gradually, there’s been a change happening, until it’s something else I feel. And, that’s good. It’s better to be that way. You’re more interesting at 48, if you’ve developed. If you’ve not developed, it’s not happening.

“Now there’s a renaissance of good movies again”

Creatively as well, do you think it’s been an ascending order for you, in terms of this phase being the best?
Absolutely. The films I’m doing are slightly different. The basic atmosphere on sets, is giving you a chance to work slightly more in an international way. The films were different back then. Everything was happening, you, the camera work, it was all slowly happening. There was also a terrible time in movies in the late 80s and 90s. There were great things in the 60-70s. And now there’s a renaissance of good movies again. So, it’s all happening now. Once you are older, and learnt the craft, you know how to give a shot. It’s more satisfying.


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