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Safe as poison!

Striking the right chord: Saif Ali Khan.  

“Cocktail is not a great film but a charming film.” As always Saif Ali Khan retains his sanity in success. The film has conjured up good numbers at the box office giving Saif a well-deserved hit after a series of strong performances in not-so-powerful films. Saif says he was not the first choice for the role of Gautam. “I was producing it but as an actor I made a last minute entry into the film as after playing some dark characters in Kurbaan, Aarakshan and Agent Vinod I wanted to be part of something light-hearted. What impressed me about Gautam was that the guy has a dodgy morality as he tries to jump from one girl to another in the same house, but he is innocent enough to feel that everything will be sorted out if he will share his change of heart openly.”

Saif knows that most people have found the second half quite predictable. “It is very difficult to find a perfect screenplay.” True. In fact Gautam predicts the predictability of ensuing problems in the film. “Dialogues are the USP of the film. We made the story we got. As a producer I don’t interfere but I did ask and was told we are making a love story and not a thriller!” he laughs. But in the process Veronica’s boldness is reduced to a superficial level. After all the audacity of breaking the mould of Hindi film heroine, her ultimate aim remains to be married and conform to what is considered normal. “That there is life without marriage for a career woman is still a very niche thought and doesn’t suit a commercial story. Veronica doesn’t know what family bonds mean, what they can do and when she gets an experience she likes to be part of the process. Even from the societal point of view it is nice to be bold and wild at 20, but when you turn 40 or 50 you do need somebody.”

Unlike Agent Vinod, this time the promotion was carefully carved out and promised what the film was going to deliver. Saif agrees Agent Vinod’s promos, which presented him as a lot more colourful guy than he actually turned out to be, were a bit misleading but as a film he stands by the vision of director Sriram Raghavan. “It gave me my career’s biggest opening but we knew from the beginning we are not pandering to popular sentiments. In this business sometimes you win, sometimes you lose but you need to be true to your bread and butter…One day I might return as a secret agent.”

By Bollywood standards he is not that old but in close ups the number 40 creeps up in mind. “I am not old by Hollywood standards either. I am younger than Johnny Depp and Tom Cruise. I agree I need to be bit leaner and fitter but I totally identify with the character. I feel as young at heart as Gautam. And my mother (Sharmila Tagore) said if you take out any one of the three, the cocktail will lose its impact. She felt that age does show in a few scenes but it adds to the quirkiness of Gautam. That he is aging but is not able to decide. How is that for an argument?”

Mother is also saying something when it comes to marriage. Here is a case where the mother is announcing the marriage date and the boy seems to be shying away. “No, it is not like that. It is about putting professional over personal. For last three years my personal life has overshadowed my professional life. Marriage will take place by the end of this year but the date and venue are still not fixed. Let me enjoy my professional success for some days.”

The multiplex audience is maturing. You can throw different ideas at them. If the treatment is good they don’t measure everything by moral compass…And as a star with certain standing in the industry one needs to green light ideas which could not be made without support.”

He is busy giving shape to one such idea in Mauritius in the form of Go Goa Gone. “It is a scary zombie comedy. Super action, super adult!”

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Printable version | May 14, 2021 4:29:58 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/metroplus/safe-as-poison/article3669654.ece

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