Saif Ali Khan in Cocktail
The universe is spoiling me rotten,” Saif Ali Khan says with a laugh while talking to t2 on the phone from a beach in Mauritius. After a long day shooting for his next, Go Goa Gone, Saif’s taken a little break to talk about Deepika Padukone in Cocktail, bleaching his hair blonde and, of course, Kareena Kapoor. The 40-plus actor couldn’t be in a happier space. “What more can I ask for? My trainer is waiting for me to finish this conversation so we can work out. And after that I am having dinner with (sister) Soha (Ali Khan) and (her boyfriend) Kunal (Khemu),” he says.
Cocktail has got your biggest opening yet. Are you happy with how it has been received?
Of course! I am very happy. I am conscious that the business is growing and that the audience is a lot more receptive than it used to be. A subject like Cocktail wouldn’t have been accepted even just a couple of years ago. So, yes, it’s a good feeling though I have to correct you, Agent Vinod was the biggest opening I had.
Apologies. How much does this success mean to you at this point of your career?
It’s nice to be successful but it doesn’t mean that I am going to be shouting from the rooftops. This amount of success is expected from someone like me who has spent this much time in the industry. My fans, the industry and the corporates whose products I endorse expect this from me. Anything less than this would have been under par. But just because Cocktail is a hit doesn’t mean that I have broken the rhythm of my life. I am not going to have a success party (laughs). I haven’t had a hit in a while because my last three films didn’t run [Agent Vinod, Aarakshan, Kurbaan]. But I have delivered with this one. My mother (Sharmila Tagore) put everything in perspective when she said ‘You could have been better’(laughs).
The mark of a successful film these days is the magical figure of Rs 100 crore...
Yes and that’s great. Like I mentioned, the volume of business has grown. For a film to touch Rs 100 crore or go beyond, it has to have everything — drama, romance, action, music and dance. You can’t expect Omkara to make Rs 100 crore even though it has big names. A Rs 100-crore film is like chicken biryani with raita, papad and achaar. You can’t have chicken biryani for every meal. It’s nice to have a sandwich or pizza for a change. Is my food analogy making any sense? (Laughs) Cocktail has already made Rs 80 crore and it might even go up to Rs 90 crore which for a film of that nature is brilliant business.
Deepika Padukone has walked away with all the accolades. What did you think of her performance?
It’s an outstanding performance. When I read the script for the first time, I knew that Veronica was the star role that would get all the attention. And I applaud her for carrying Veronica through so convincingly.
Diana Penty has made a very assured debut.
She is perfect. Diana was the first girl who tested for the role. She is a very quiet girl but that could also be because everything was so new to her. She has a dignity that lends itself to the character (Meera) so beautifully. And she is very hard-working.
You’ve already moved on to your next film. What are you shooting now?
I am shooting for Raj Nidimoru and Krishna DK’s Go Goa Gone which is a zombie comedy. It’s produced by Illuminati (his production house) and I play a Russian mafia guy. It’s a crazy comedy. My hair is bleached blonde and my beard is black. I look stupid (laughs). But I am getting used to this mix-match.
You are playing a UP mafia don in Tigmanshu Dhulia’s next. Are you looking at stepping out of your comfort zone like you did with Omkara?
The idea is to do an interesting mix of films and I am fortunate to have the choice to do so. I want to step out of my comfort zone and explore my limits as an actor.
Many believe that rom coms are your territory.
(Laughs) I don’t think any genre is anyone’s fiefdom. Yes, I have had successful films in this genre, but there is more to me as an actor.
Would it be correct to say you are in a happy place these days?
Absolutely. I couldn’t ask for more both in my personal and professional space. I am happy.
You have been refusing to talk about your wedding.
Yes. And for good reason. That’s all people want to talk to me about. No one seems to be interested in the fact that Cocktail is a hit. It’s just very distracting. Of course I am very excited to be starting a new phase of my life with Kareena (Kapoor) but I don’t want to make a big deal about it.