There are some who know what they want right from the outset but Saif Ali Khan believes he found his foothold late in life. For someone whose childhood was spent with one leg in the hills of Himachal Pradesh and another in UK’s Hertfordshire countryside, the actor says he has spent a lot of time in introspection rather than focusing on the world outside.
“I think I’m a late bloomer in some ways. My acting is getting better and better today. And I think acting is something that grows with time — something as an understanding and maturity… To know what to do what not to do,” Saif said.
The eldest child from a high-profile interfaith marriage, the actor recalls spending his formative years with the Westerners, whose laid-back, outdoorsy lifestyle he identifies with. But living in Bombay, the actor says being introspective has now become a way of life. “When I’m abroad, I’m out all the time, running around Taimur or going out to lunch and dinner, not in a very touristy way, but quite chilled out,” Saif says. “Living in Bombay, I don’t go out much. In Bombay, no matter how much money you have, it’s better to be inside, at least, for me. I’ve spent a lot of time inward looking rather than outward looking. So I read, I think and I read more. And I listen to music,” he adds.
The actor will next be seen in “Baazaar”, which is based in stock market with a mentor-protege relationship as its spine and he dubs the film as the rise of the anti-hero. Saif plays a seasoned stock trader, Shakun Kothari, who unlike his previous suave-oozing roles, is a “bit crass in places”.
“There might be a little grace to the character. I think when I was a kid I used to watch Alain Delon movies. He was the best looking guy that’s ever been. This French actor used to play these slightly darker roles but he used to give it a little style and in my head I thought, that’s cool. I’ve always been slightly intrigued by darkness more than the light side of things. I find light to be misleading or boring. But as one gets old, even light needs strength to be reflected or to play Ram or to play a hero properly. You have to tap into different things. It’s just something I enjoy. I actually wouldn’t mind cornering the market (of anti-hero). It would be good fun to be known as that. Whereas earlier, people used to be like ‘Oh, you are playing negative roles’. Now, it’s becoming more grey.”
Besides “Baazaar”, the actor will also be seen in period drama “Tanaaji: The Unsung Hero” alongside Ajay Devgn, who plays the title role. Saif is reportedly set to play Udaybhan Rathod, the Rajput officer and fortkeeper appointed by Jai Singh, chief of the Mughul army under Aurangzeb.
He says the kind of roles he has been finding are some negative roles, but he believes they are actually anti-heroes. “‘Tanaaji’ director said, ‘You’re like Imran Khan or Shahid Afridi. It’s like you are the cricket captain of Pakistan. You’re amazing but you’re on the wrong side.”
And yet his filmography finds space for a struggling, good cop, Sartaj Singh in “Sacred Games”. The actor is floored by the reviews of the show and is excited for the second run of the Netflix India original. Saif also has projects such as Navdeep Singh’s “Hunter” in which he plays a Naga sadhu and family comedy “Jawaani Jaaneman”, which he will also co-produce.