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Erratic journey

HARSHINI VAKKALANKA
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film Zayed Khan, in a career spanning a decade has learnt to say no, and discovered why he likes being an actor

doing a rethink on how to approach films photo: Murali Kumar K.
doing a rethink on how to approach films photo: Murali Kumar K.

A ctor Zayed Khan has come to another pivotal point in his “roller-coaster” Bollywood ride. His pet project, “Love Breakups Zindagi” will hit theatres on October 7. What's new is that that movie is also co-produced by his production company, Born Free Entertainment that he started along with co-star Dia Mirza and the movie's director Sahil Sangha.

“‘Love Breakups Zindagi' is a story about contemporary relationships, breaking taboos and a journey to discover true calling. The story relates to all our lives, it has its roots firmly established in the ground,” says Zayed.

Born Free Entertainment was born over a year and a half ago. “Dia, Sahil and me wanted to make films of our generation and its issues. It is a company that values a democratic culture and has its doors open to creativity,” he explains.

Zayed's career in the industry spans close to a decade, during which he has done a mixed bag of over 15 films including, “Main Hoon Na”, “Dus”, “Blue” and “Fight Club”.

“My journey as an actor was very erratic. I think it was because I was a bull-headed, young, talented, aggressive guy who used to think it was either my way or the highway. I made some good decisions, some of them turned out lucky and some not-so-lucky. But after I got married, I had to re-think the way I approached films. I needed to get more focused. I felt that I had so much more to give.” His first film, “Chura Liya Hai Tumne”, did not do too well at the box office. But then his second film, “Main Hoon Na”, was a raging success. “I was 22. I had just returned from my studies abroad and I was preparing to be an actor. A gentleman from Pantaloons called and asked me if I wanted to act in his company's film. I said yes immediately. And then one day, I was sitting in Shah Rukh Khan's office with Farah Khan, and he asked me if I could be an actor; I said I was born to be an actor.”

Some of his favourite actors are Shah Rukh Khan, Salman Khan and Sanjay Dutt. “I call actors like them the ‘Last of the Mohicans' because I don't think actors are the same anymore. Their commitment to being an actor is tied to their commitment to being a good human being. They realise it's a job. For instance, Hrithik is a perfectionist. Even if he wins a Filmfare award, he goes straight back to bed after the function and doesn't miss his workout in the morning.”

For Zayed, being an actor means, “always being a student of cinema. The day an actor stops learning, he needs to do something else.”

“The greatest high of being an actor is live performance. I remember I had to perform on stage for the first time in Durban. It was raining and the organisers were wondering if they should cancel the event. But when we took a peek through the curtain, we found that there were over 40,000 people waiting there holding umbrellas. Shah Rukh said we cannot disappoint these people, so we all performed. My 20 minutes on stage felt like 20 seconds. I went back and told him, ‘Now I understand why you like being an actor'.” Talking about the film industry, he says, “The Hindi film industry is changing faster than you can say ‘Jack Nicholson'. Films are becoming more corporate and more independent at the same time. I realise that I went about it brashly. I think I need a plan and it means that I need the ability to say no.” But who are the ones he has said “Yes” to? “I have ‘Tezz' coming up with Priyadarshan. I'm also finishing a comedy and another action-comedy for Born Free Entertainment. And then I have signed two more films, which I'm not at liberty to talk about yet.”

HARSHINI VAKKALANKA

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