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Saif Ali Khan on ‘no concept of India before British’ comment: ‘From now on, I’d like to stay away from such conversations’

Saif Ali Khan has made a rule on not getting into ‘a situation which might divide people’ after his comment on India’s identity drew flak recently.

Updated: Feb 16, 2020 12:14 IST

By Juhi Chakraborty and Titas Chowdhury, Hindustan Times New Delhi

Saif Ali Khan poses for photos on his arrival at Filmfare Glamour and Style Awards. (PTI)

From playing a boy-next-door in his initial films to dissolving his identity to disappear into myriad roles in the last two decades, Saif Ali Khan has gone through a sort of metamorphosis. Besides a cracker of a start he has had this year with two back-to-back successes — Tanhaji: The Unsung Warrior and Jawaani Jaaneman — he also landed in trouble with a statement he made that backfired. We get talking to the 49-year-old.

Your comment that ‘there was no concept of India until the British came’ drew a lot of flak. How would you like to clarify that?

There are a lot of questions that one gets asked, that you have to answer over a long conversation, about history and politics. But, I’ve also learnt that (with) a lot of these questions, the answers tend to divide people — either they agree or disagree — which isn’t really our job. My job is to unite people, and I do that with the kind of films I do. So, I think it’s wrong to get into a situation which might divide people. So, from now on, I’d like to stay away from such conversations, and focus more on the positive things of my profession that’s bringing the country together.

Mumbai: Actor Ajay Devgn accompanied by co-star Saif Ali Khan, addresses at the trailer launch of their film Tanhaji: The Unsung Warrior. ( IANS )

The past few years look like Saif version 2.0. Was it all planned?

I think it’s a combination of a few things — the kind of films being made, roles being offered and the audiences, which has made things more interesting. The brackets are changing. It has given an opportunity to play varied characters. I really enjoy acting and I’m enjoying the kind of roles I’m getting.

After quite a few intense roles, did you do Jawaani Jaaneman to step away from that zone?

It’s true. You want to mix it up a little bit as an actor. I’d like to try and do a little more comedy, generally. I enjoy it. Also, I’ve had my share of intense parts. People also enjoy a variety, and I’d like to deliver that.



You introduced urban romantic comedies in 2000s. Would you call yourself a trendsetter?

I remember talking to Adi (Aditya Chopra; filmmaker) about that. He introduced the genre in India. I was part of the wave. At that time, multiplexes were coming up, so we changed the kind of films we made. From Amitabh Bachchan’s angry young man films to the movies that were made when Khans came in, to witnessing films like Hum Tum (2004) and Salaam Namaste (2005)... I’ve been involved in these changes.

Also read: Filmfare Awards 2020 full list of winners: Gully Boy’s 13 wins make history, Alia Bhatt and Ranveer Singh take top awards

Do you find romcoms to be an easy genre to pull off?

They’re breezy! The crisis happens when something isn’t making you happy. They can be really funny also. So, as an actor, it’s both easy and difficult to pull them off. But, it doesn’t come naturally to everyone. I do enjoy romcoms; people enjoy watching them.

Would you say subtlety is an art?

It’s not easy to be easy. It needs control to look effortless. I suspect that our audiences like a bit of louder stuff before they call it acting. So, it’s difficult to be subtle. Chef (2017) didn’t do well; I believe it had a subtle performance by me. I worked so hard. But, may be audience believed that in this kind of a film, we aren’t really acting.

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