Actor Saif Ali Khan talks about belonging to a family of celebs, his acting career and Kareena, of course!

Despite several ups and downs in his acting career, the suave, sexy and stylish Saif Ali Khan has proved his staying power for about two decades in Bollywood. The actor, who has 50 films to his credit, opens up on films, endorsements, Kareena and more in an exclusive interview.

Parampara to Race 2… list three things in your film career that you can never forget?

There are a few lines my directors taught me that I will never forget like Sooraj Barjatya telling me ‘When in doubt let the background score do the talking’, Mahesh Bhatt telling me ‘When in doubt think about your son or daughter and keep it simple’, and my mum telling me ‘Think of the camera as the most beautiful woman looking at you’.

Fifty films and counting… which films are closest to your heart and why?

Some of the films that are very special to me are Dil Chahta Hai, Omkara, Parineeta, Hum Tum and Kal Ho Na Ho, as they transformed my career graph. If you want me to show off I would say Omkaara, but I liked my work in Parineeta. Though it was perhaps not a realistic film, it did allow me to add a lot to my character. It was a paradigm shift from the comic roles I am usually associated with to a serious one. I gave it my best and thoroughly enjoyed the experience.

Coming from a family of legends, how have you handled the pressure and managed to carve a niche for yourself?

I have been lucky to have made a contribution to the industry in my own way. I am happy that I have never felt the need to copy anyone, and the challenges have only been from within. I would say work-wise it’s the same for everyone, except maybe the expectations people have of me because of my parents. But this too is changing, especially among the current generation which only perceives you for what you are.

Did you ever consider pursuing a career in sport? Also, besides acting and producing films, could we expect to see you don other roles?

Of course, I would have loved to have been a sportsperson. I would have been the third-generation sportsperson in my family, but thank God I am an actor, else my career would have been finished five years ago. No, I don’t think there are any more roles I would like to take up. All I want is to continue to do good work — make interesting movies that are of international calibre.

You are yet to venture into television…what is holding you back, especially when so many of your co-stars have already done so?

I have been getting a lot of work but, while it’s tempting to make more money it should not be the main motive. What matters is that the work you do should be of high quality. Besides, I have not come across a show I would like to do. I have been sensible enough not enter a market that is altogether financially driven.

Stars today endorse products. How do you choose your endorsements?

I think there’s a certain kind of brand fit that is important. The brand itself did a lot of research — they wanted a boy-next-door image similar to mine in Dil Chahta Hai, Hum Tum and Salaam Namaste. I happened to fit the image of the colourful, fun-loving and fresh character required for the ‘Lays’ ad.

You have always been known as a prankster on and off set. You even play such roles in films. Does it help relieve stress? Tell us more about your pranks...

I don’t remember the last time I played a prank but yes, playing a prank is so much fun. You have nothing else but impish thoughts on your mind. Fun at other people’s expense sounds great. But, yes, I’d love to do horror movies; let’s see if such a role takes shape.

Bollywood calls you and Kareena the sexiest couple around. What is it that keeps your relationship ticking?

Touch wood! It’s a combination of individual achievement and making time for each other that keeps our relationship going. It’s all about striking a balance between doing your own work and having your own life, and living a life together. We enjoy spending time together and like the same things. Yet, we are very independent and like pursuing our own careers.

As an actor do you feel it is essential to relate to your role? If so, how do you choose your roles?

Yes, it’s something inherent in me as an actor. However, a few things that I do consider when I choose a role are — would it be fun to watch the movie if I were not in it? What is the situation the character is in? Is it a remarkable one and would it be fun?

How does your lineage add to your responsibilities?

Thankfully, the democratic country we live in has done away with titles; I would rather be a movie star any day. That’s because we have to re-invent ourselves all the time. My father was a cricketer and my mother was an actor, and I am happy to be actor too. Yes, we do have family traditions and a beautiful home in Pataudi, but that’s it. It’s something I take seriously but it’s not something to show off to others. To me, it’s about doing a great job and being a good husband and a good father at the end of the day.

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