Saif out, Salman in
Move over saif ali khan. Here comes Salman... Khurshid!
- Published 1.05.15
t2 caught up with Salman Ali Khan, oops, Salman Khurshid on the role of a lifetime — the lovable loverboy of Kal Ho Naa Ho. Despite what his son from Dubai had to say to his dad, we at t2 give a double thumbs-up to today’s trendiest politician!
How has the world been reacting to Salman Khurshid doing a Saif Ali Khan?
(Laughs) Generally quite well. People I haven’t heard from in a long time from different parts of the world… friends I had lost touch with… have all, somehow, managed to get through… messages, phone calls. And, of course, the German ambassador has reported that there is a huge, huge, huge following for the video. It’s generally gone off well, but one of my sons who is in Dubai, was very embarrassed (laughs). He said: ‘What’s wrong with you? It’s a kind of midlife crisis or what?’ (Laughs out loud) Except for that, everyone seems to have taken it well.
What was your first reaction when Michael Steiner approached you for the video?
Well, I didn’t reject it right away, but I didn’t accept it either. Initially, I didn’t think it was such a fantastic thing to do. Once you’ve been in public life and are also practising law, it shouldn’t really appear that you are a frivolous person. But then, the ambassador and I spoke and I thought about what this video could do for Indo-German relations, especially when he told me how popular Bollywood was in Germany and how this could be a tribute to Bollywood, but also a special message for Indo-German friendship. So, I thought I might as well give it a try. It sounded interesting.
Was Kal Ho Naa Ho always the first choice?
Yes, it was. In fact, the ambassador was always keen on that film because apparently it’s quite high on the charts in Germany. He also told me that students at German universities have already tried remaking the song over and over again. So, he got the idea from there.
Have you watched the film before?
Many, many years ago and I actually liked it.
I haven’t seen a lot of films lately. When they showed me rerun after rerun of the song, I thought it was a bit daunting, you know, to match the quality and calibre of the actors there (laughs)… young and so vibrant… and I thought: ‘My god, at our age could we do it?’ But then, it all fell into place and here we are.
But you had all the expressions and gestures down pat!
(Laughs) I didn’t do too many takes, you know. The maximum takes we did were probably three or four. I rehearsed one day for about two hours and then I shot only for one day… from 10am to 10pm…the ambassador and his wife shot over several days, but I was short on time and so I shot only for a day.
Is this also an effort to show that politicians in our country, contrary to popular opinion, do have a sense of humour?
In our country, public life means cynicism combined with self-righteousness and by public life, I mean just not politics. I seriously feel we need to inject some humour into politics, but I am afraid that there are many in the media who don’t appreciate or applaud humour in politicians. If someone wisecracks, that is most often taken as a barb and then spirals into something that is totally uncalled for. I think we should keep things light-hearted and also allow in some humour once in a while. If my doing this contributes even a little bit towards enhancing that effort, then I am happy.
How have your political peers reacted to the video?
Not many, but a few have smiled and raised an eyebrow (laughs). But my lawyer colleagues in the Bar have come up and congratulated me and have been talking about it. But political colleagues, not really (laughs).
When you did the video, did you have any idea it would go viral?
No, not at all, but the ambassador was very convinced and kept telling me: ‘You wait and watch.’ This is a very interesting and first-hand experience for me in terms of what going viral is and what social media can do.
Saif Ali Khan was present at the launch of the video. What did he have to say about your act?
Well, he seemed quite pleased. He was very gracious and even quipped that maybe it’s time for him to join politics since politicians seem to have started encroaching on his territory! (Laughs)
Is this a one-off or will we see more of Salman Khurshid in front of the camera?
I seriously hope it’s a one-off! We have a very tough life in politics and look at my leader Mr Rahul Gandhi… he’s on the road non-stop and I am sure people will not take it too lightly if I am in the studio! So I have to get back on the road… as far as both law and politics are concerned.
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The next time you smirk that politicians don’t have a sense of humour, just think of Salman… Salman Khurshid. An eight-minute-long video, now gone viral on the Internet, proves that the former minister of external affairs in the UPA government — described on his website as “a dynamic leader of mankind” — has a funny bone that would give Kapil Sharma some tough competition.
Teaming up with German ambassador to India Michael Steiner and his wife Eliese — both “diehard fans” of Bollywood song-’n’-dance and Shah Rukh Khan — Khurshid, 62, “plays” Saif Ali Khan in the video which is described as a “tribute” to the 2003 Karan Johar-produced blockbuster Kal Ho Naa Ho. Yes, Steiner plays SRK while Eliese slips into the stilettos of Preity Zinta.
The video, shot on the premises of the ambassador’s official residence in Delhi as well as in some cafes and quaint markets that dot the capital, has Steiner do an SRK— right down to the outstretched arms, the naughty glint in the eye and the playful smirk. Perfectly lip-syncing to the film’s title track — the ambassador speaks no Hindi at all — Steiner gives ample proof that he’s watched the Nikhil Advani-directed film at least a couple of times. Giving him company is his wife who plays a woman torn between two men. The Steiners — known for their love of all things Indian (they have watched over 150 Bolly films without understanding the language!) — have ensured the video has some desi flavour: New York’s Brooklyn Bridge has been replaced by India Gate and Eliese picks a pink sari instead of the little red dress Preity sports in the original song.
But stealing the show by a long mile is Khurshid. As Saif Ali Khan’s Rohit Patel — the man who loves his woman even as he knows she loves another — Khurshid is a delight: playful boyfriend, caring lover and loyal friend all rolled into one. One look at the man’s expressions — especially when he shares a pretzel with his lady-love in the park or does the salsa with her — makes us wonder why he didn’t do this earlier. In a week that has thrown up a lot to lament about, Khurshid does a great job of making us laugh, so much so that Sharmila Tagore — who was present at the video’s launch, along with Saif — regretted turning down the role of the doctor in this film, played originally by Sonali Bendre.
The video — called ‘Lebe Jetzt’ meaning ‘Kal ho na ho’ in German –– now has eight million views — and counting! — on YouTube.
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