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Memorable films

Saif Ali Khan


Upperstall profile by: Karan Bali aka TheThirdMan

Saif Ali Khan is one of the best and most popular actors in Hindi cinema today. No one can quite play the goofy but charming lover boy with as much élan and style as Saif. But that is not to say he is only suited for light romantic comedies. He has handled more serious roles in films like Ek Hasina Thi (2004), Being Cyrus (2005) and Omkara (2006) equally efficiently.

Saif Ali Khan was born on August 16, 1970 in New Delhi to former Indian cricket captain Mansur Ali Khan Pataudi, the Nawab of Pataudi and actress Sharmila Tagore. He did his education initially from Lawrence School, Sanawar, then Lockers Prep School and finally at Winchester College, UK. Being Sharmila Tagore’s son, the offers from Bollywood began pouring in. Saif was to be launched in Bekhudi (1992) opposite Kajol but differences between him and directer Rahul Rawail saw him out of the film. Bekhudi was subsequently made with Kajol and Kamal Sadanah and bombed badly at the box-office. Saif was meanwhile launched in the Yash Chopra directed multi-starrer Parampara (1993), where he, Aamir Khan, Raveena Tandona nd Neelam played the younger generation. Saif acquitted himself quite well and held his own against seasoned performers like Vinod Khanna and Anupam Kher but the film flopped dismally at the box office. Admittedly, it is one of Yash Chopra’s weakest films. Saif was appreciated in Aashiq Awaara (1993), his first solo hero project and he went on to win the Filmfare Award for Best Male Debut.

Saif broke through in 1994 with Main Khiladi Tu Anari and Yeh Dillagi. Interestingly, both were copies of Hollywood films. The former was based on The Hard Way starring James Woods and Michael J Fox while the latter was based on Billy Wilder’s Sabrina itself remade in Hollywood. Yeh Dillagi, in particular, saw Saif score heavily as the rich, spoilt playboy who falls in love with the chauffer’s daughter, played by Kajol. The film also gave him one of his earliest hit songs - Jab Bhi Koi Ladki Dekhoon, Mera Dil Deewana Bole Ole Ole Ole!

The rest of the 1990s were a nightmare for Saif. Most of his films came unstuck at the box-office and the few that did ok like Kachche Dhaage (1999) and Hum Saath Saath Hain (1999) were multi-starrers with stronger (more saleable heroes) in them like Ajay Devgan and Salman Khan respectively. He did unexpectedly have a hit with Kya Kehna (2000) where he played a rich college dude who sleeps with Preity Zinta, acknowledges that he is the father when she gets pregnant but refuses to marry her. However, the film failed to do much for him and soon he was playing strictly supporting roles to R Madhavan (Rehna Hai Tere Dil Mein (2001)) and Hrithik Roshan (Na Tum Jaano Na Hum (2002)). He was all but written off.

Thankfully for Saif, Dil Chahta Hai (2001), Farhan Akhtar’s debut film changed all that. The film takes a look at the friendship of three graduates Akash (Aamir Khan), Sameer (Saif Ali Khan) and Siddharth (Akshaye Khanna) and their efforts to find love. Farhan gives us a much more modern, upbeat, warm, witty, poignant and humorous portrayal of young friendship treated in a refreshingly candid manner. Saif is the surprise packet of the film. Dil Chahta Hai sees the actor's finest performance yet as the goofy, young man - he is spot on with his sense of comic timing and is equally at ease in the more dramatic moments of the film. Most importantly, he was back!

Saif consolidated his position with Kal Ho Naa Ho (2003) and Hum Tum (2004), though both roles were somewhat extensions of his goofy lover boy act in Dil Chahta Hai. And with their success came the awards. Kal Ho Naa Ho won Saif the Best Supporting Actor at the Filmfare Awards while Hum Tum, inspired by When Harry Met Sally, won Saif the National Award for Best Actor. But the best was still to come.

Ek Hasina Thi (2004) saw a change of image for Saif as he played played a role with negative shades. He is in top form in the film as the suave charmer who sweeps Urmila off her feet, sets her up and gets her jailed only for her to escape and take revenge on him. But he went even one step better with Omkara (2006), playing Langda Tyagi, the Indian counterpart of Iago in Vishal Bharadwaj's adaptation of Othello. Saif responds with perhaps the best performance of his career as he walks off with the film, stealing every scene he is in. In between, he also came up with impressive performances in Parineeta (2005) and Being Cyrus (2005).

Post Omkara, Saif has had box-office success with Race (2008) but all his big films with Yashraj Films, TaRaRumPum (2007), Thoda Pyaar Thoda Magic (2008), Tashan (2008) and Roadside Romeo (2008) flopped at the box office. Neeeding a hit badly, Saif's latest film, which he has also co-produced, Love Aaj Kal (2009), sees him play a double role as the hero in two love stories that the film explores, one set in 1965 and one set in today's times. However in the current love story, Saif has played this character far too often now and he is unable to give any new take on it while the older love story doesn’t really give him much scope to perform. In fact, he looks far too old now for such goofy, boyish characters and maybe it’s time he starts playing his age. Still, the film gave him the big success he needed as it emerged as one of the top grossers of 2009. His other film of 2009, Kurbaan, however is a disaster, qualitywise and a major disppointment.

On the personal front, Saif married Bollywood actress Amrita Singh in 1991. The couple, who have two children, split in 2004. Today, Saif is dating his Tashan co-star, Kareena Kapoor.




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