Saif Ali Khan is currently in the best phase of his life or so he says. With films like Chef, Kalakaandi, Bazaar and a web series on Sacred Games in the offing, the actor is looking at a busy slate to close the year. We caught him for an interview while he was on a promotional tour for the film Chef.
Which book has had a profound effect on you?
Ayn Rand’s The Fountainhead.
Is there any real life personality whom you would like to play?
I would love to do a biopic but can't think of who. There are so many ideas but we are limited. We can't keep doing films bashing Pakistan, it's like America making war films against Germany. A real life character like Dr Bhimrao Ambedkar would be great. I would certainly love to play him.
Tell us about Chef, it's a remake of the Hollywood movie The Chef?
It was quite easy and director Raja Menon is a wonderful, balanced person and passionate to work with. It's not a remake per se but Raja has adapted and made it in his own story. It's about a divorce and its aftereffects. Often divorce is treated as somebody ending up as the villain in a relationship, like another woman. Sometimes you can get job in another country and you have no time and balancing time can be a problem. The film is set in different places, like the U.S, Kerala, Amritsar, Goa and North India. The hero is a North Indian and married to a South Indian girl and it's also about cultural differences and food. I had to train as a chef for a few hours a day and get comfortable in the kitchen. By the way, now I can chop garlic very well.
Do you cook in real life and what do you cook?
I do cook and I have started doing that. I feel cooking is peaceful and therapeutic. I make kebabs, Dal, bhurjee and pastas. My Mom is an amazing cook. She makes fish and heavy duty Brinjal as she is a Bengali.
You play a father who is separated from his son did it bring back memories of your son who was at the same age?
Yes they were roughly the same age. It did bring memories but I was not away from my children for long. I didn't miss their growing years, if that's what you mean. I have always been around with them.
You have become a father for the third time, has the birth of Taimur calmed you at this age?
Nothing about parenting can make you calmer. It makes you hyper. It comes with age and maturity and understanding. Things slow down a bit. The difference is I am much more calmer at this age however I am the same though when it comes to upbringing. Taimur is tinier and they are sixteen but they are like the same person I am dealing with at different stages. He's in a baby form, one is a female adult and one is a young male.
It's like they are different forms of one plant. Different manifestations of God, It's like dealing with a baby Krishna, a young Krishna and Radha, I think that's a better metaphor.
What have you discovered about yourself after the birth of Taimur?
I can't crawl faster without getting tired. I am discovering things about myself all the time. He is sweet and someone whom I am responsible for. Given the age Sara was born I was a young father and with Taimur, I am bit older. When he is 20 I will be 67. When he is in school I will be a bit old that is, if I am alive. When I am old he will be ready for life and I will have to teach him lot of things. It's like dealing with the final project (smiles).
Chef is about father son bonding, did it bring back memories of your bonding with Ibrahim? Did you ever discuss the film with him?
Sara likes to discuss films, but Ibrahim doesn't. He says he loved it and laughed throughout, but I think he is just being nice.
Sara is all set for her debut, she is the third generation of actor in your family, did you give her any advice?
I think acting is a great job and also the best job in the world. My advice to her would be to concentrate on being a good performer, and don't get caught up in negativity, competition and rivalry. Try to focus and think of being a better actor. None of us thought about these things when we were new as we always wanted to be hero. We learnt things on the job and as we grew.
Do you think you are in the best phase of life now?
I think so. But it would be nice if some of my films also ran and made money too. If my films make money I will be happy or else I will be in trouble, I am kind of happy and I like my age and like the way I am feeling but sometimes I am scared when I dream I have become old because I am not 25 anymore.
I worry at times. My father died quite early in life and I worry and think of life because of Taimur. I am at an open and interesting phase. I want to celebrate my life. I like good food, wine and like travelling. I have an understanding and positive partner in Kareena. I don't want to change this phase.
You must be missing your Father a lot?
I miss him and feel bad. He died at 71. My father is such an amazing person, and it would have been good for him to relax and enjoy more of life. I really miss him and his advice.
So how do you deal with emptiness?
I have always been working if I am not working it might lead to that emptiness. To deal with emptiness you have to work harder and not take things for granted. Also going to the gym and being fit is very important.
Do you analyse life when you are in this lonely space?
I analyse my life everyday while driving to work. Some of it is little chaotic but that's ok because life is unpredictable. You can't live life one way. Sometimes you want to have fun and do certain things and be careless. What if I die at least I am happy I did things that I wanted to do.
In your forthcoming movie Kalaakandi, we are going to see you working with actors like Vijay Raaz?
We didn't see each other during the shoot as they are three different stories in the film. He is a great actor. Mumbai is very rich culturally, with different diversities. I like Kaalakandi, as the film shows what Mumbai is like. It's about all people making money, and those who are desperate for money which happens in any big city and there is a unique character of the city which is shown nicely in the film.
Your next Bazaar also seems interesting as it is based on stock trading?
This is about market It's about dreams and an ambitious guy. It's an old story in that sense. There hasn't been a film on stock trading so far. I liked my role. I play a Gujarati businessman, very ruthless.
Do you enjoy the learning process that comes with every role?
I like learning the basics while doing a particular role. During Chef, I had to learn to cook and chop. I have always loved cooking not just because of the film, but because I have seen my mom cooking and wanted to do what she did. I like that vibe. Cooking in London is different. In India the kitchen is hot with all those hot masalas. I have put an AC in the kitchen so that I can cook at my own pace. My cook doesn't use it though. I like to have a glass of wine, not too much so that cooking gets ruined and listen to music when I am cooking.
What about taking up direction?
I don't have the mental capacity to direct there's too much commitment. When I read a scene I understand how the scene will go about and I think a lot like a director but sometimes they think differently and I say oh maybe I should think differently too. I can direct a one off scene . Direction is like orchestration of emotion and the pacing has to be right. I do write where I can put down my thoughts but I haven't written a script as yet. I wrote poetry in school. I am sure I could write a script but haven't given it a try as yet.