Saif Ali Khan finally has a hit after a long time! That is, if you discount his first ‘solo’ hit earlier this year – the infamous brawl at a Mumbai restaurant – as some detractors had mockingly termed the unsavoury episode. At the time of going to press, Cocktail, Saif’s rom-com starring Deepika Padukone and newcomer Diana Penty had garnered healthy numbers at the box office and was on its way to becoming a certified hit based on its weekend collections. But has the movie actually done wonders for Saif’s seemingly shaky career is the big question critics are asking.
Over the last few years the Nawab of Pataudi has always been the quintessential underachiever – nearly at the top but never quite getting there! With his talent and charisma, he could have easily broken into Bollywood’s Top Five Club (currently dominated by the Aamir-Salman-Shah Rukh troika) but this temperamental Khan has been pushed back by the likes of Akshay Kumar and Ajay Devgn. Also, his personal life, though steady, has seen its own share of ups and downs. So where is Saif going wrong? Masala! analyses…
• Sticking To The Same Formula
Saif is known for his urban, suave, metrosexual image ever since Dil Chahta Hai, Kal Ho Na Ho and Hum Tum. While he has managed to create a unique niche for himself, critics think it’s an overkill. A few years ago, he astounded us with his brave choices – Ek Hasina Thi, Omkara etc – and proved that he could play roles that were diametrically opposite to his image. However, the new Saif seems to seek comfort in familiarity. Instead of pushing the envelope the way his counterparts and younger heroes like Ranbir have been doing, Saif is sticking to the formula. His experimentation (if it can be called that) in the form of Aarakshan and Agent Vinod, both resulted in failure. While hits and flops are a part of an actor’s life, there is no excuse for an indifferent performance!
• Losing Out On Endorsements
An actor’s popularity and box office standing are directly proportionate to the endorsements he has in his kitty. There was a time when Saif was giving tough competition to even Shah Rukh with his popularity in the ad world. While girlfriend Kareena is still the darling of the ad industry, Saif seems to be losing out. His most recent one is for a hair product brand and it’s with Bebo! So does he still get ads only as a package deal?
• Lacking An Identity
Salman has his fixed base – the masses all over the world; Aamir’s appeal lies mainly among high-brow intellectuals; Shah Rukh still has a massive following among NRIs and urbanites, Ajay and Akshay have gone into the action and comedy mode with a vengeance… where does that leave Saif? He is too old to play a loverboy – Imran, Ranbir and Shahid have beaten him to it. And despite his talent, he looks too sophisticated to play the desi, masala hero roles (like Akki and Ajay). Sure, Omkara bust several myths about him but it was no way the run-of-the-mill potboiler like a Singham, Rowdy Rathore or Bol Bachchan. Saif needs to remember that he cannot continue playing the slick lover anymore. And while he has been on an overdrive explaining and defending his choices, it’s a fact that mass-based entertainers are the hot trend in Bollywood today.
• No Films To Look Forward To
Are production hassles (his company Illuminati Films had two releases this year Agent Vinod and Cocktail) taking a toll on his acting career? Or does he not find scripts that suit his image in a day when single-screen, 100-crore blockbusters seem to rule the roost? Whatever be the reason, Saif doesn’t seem to have too many exciting films on hand. While being choosy suits an Aamir Khan, we hope the Nawab isn’t losing out to younger, more enthusiastic actors like Ranbir and Imran!