As an actor Saif Ali Khan is choosing his roles responsibly and wants to prove critics wrong. As a filmmaker he feels Bollywood is “self-sufficient” and doesn’t need to impress the foreign audience.
“The population of Indians is so massive worldwide as well as in India that we don’t need to cater to foreigners. We are self-sufficient,” Saif, 40, told IANS in an exclusive interview. He echoed his mother, veteran actress Sharmila Tagore who had recently questioned Indian actors’ clamour for Hollywood.
Saif, who was in the capital to shoot the climax scenes of his second home production “Agent Vinod”, being directed by Sriram Raghavan, is taking special care to make the spy thriller look different from popular international film series “James Bond”.
Wearing track pants, a green t-shirt, shades, sporting ruffled hair and looking relaxed, the actor shared his thoughts on “Agent Vinod” and his aspirations as he completes two decades in the film industry in 2012.
Here are excerpts from the interview to IANS:
Q: How is Delhi treating you?
A: Really nice. It’s always been fun being here. I am going to start shooting “Agent Vinod” climax here.
Q. You shot parts of your debut production “Love Aaj Kal” in the capital. Will we see a different side of New Delhi in “Agent Vinod”?
A: It is going to be completely different from “Love Aaj Kal”. There is a lot of character in Delhi that we would like to capture. The Aurangzeb Road kind of bungalow, and ‘chiks’ tied to the colonial arches of these houses. There is also the old Delhi, and the slightly more crowded – a very Kashmere Gate kind of area. We will capture Connaught Place and the famous Nirula’s.
“Love…” captured an atmosphere of being romantic, fun loving, the gol-gappas and metro rides. But for “Agent Vinod”, we want to capture the power of the central government, the grandeur, beauty of the visuals, things like Rashtrapati Bhavan.
Q: We hear there will be heavy-duty action sequences in “Agent Vinod”. How demanding is it for you?
A: For me, it is extraordinary to be flexible enough to kick a certain way, run and jump and do it all in a particular style. I think the character doing action in the film is somebody meant to be very comfortable doing it. Also, it’s supposed to look good on him. So that is a challenge – to be stylish while doing action scenes in a particular way.
Q: Agent Vinod is supposed to be a spy. Should we expect something like a “James Bond”?
A: Everyone will expect a Bond rip-off out of “Agent Vinod”, and that is something we are being wary of. First of all, James Bond is very debonair and, you know, impeccably dressed and unruffled in situations. Vinod is not like that! Vinod is a little bit Bond and a little bit Tintin!
He doesn’t look like Tintin, but Tintin is quite an adventure – the situations that he finds himself in are quite unique, interesting and larger than life. Vinod is closer to that.
Q: Most Bollywood producers are focussed on making ‘globally viable’ films. What do you think about it?
A: It’s great we are doing different kind of movies. The population of Indians is so massive worldwide as well as in India that we don’t need to cater to foreigners. We are self-sufficient. We are very different from the West in our likes. We can make their form of presentation too, but we as an audience will find it dry. If we want to make a film for the West, we should make it for the West nicely.
Q: What do you aim to do through your banner Illuminati Films?
A: I think at Illuminati, we are talking to Indians globally. Although Sriram feels that a foreigner can also enjoy this film, my target really is India and Indians overseas.
Q: You will complete two decades in filmdom next year. What do you want to contribute to Bollywood now?
A: I think the best is really yet to come. I would like to contribute in terms of doing different kind of films and add whatever value I can, in whichever department I can – whether as a production house trying to make some good movies, or as an actor trying to be involved in stories that entertain and, hopefully, maybe make you think sometimes.
Q: You have also finished the shooting for “Aarakshan” and you are playing an unconventional role. In what ways have your choice of films changed over the years?
A: There is a certain responsibility in choices, especially when you choose a film like “Aarakshan”, I feel I’m doing my duty as a responsible actor. I feel it’s good if we can go beyond something that is only designed to entertain. Choices define you as an actor and we need to do that carefully.
I’m aware that I was given the Padma Shri for contribution to Indian cinema, and I know a lot of people feel it is too premature, if not undeserved. So I would aim in the next 10 years to prove all those people wrong!