Saif Ali Khan

- Vikram Chandiramani 

While doing a film with Hrithik Roshan, Saif Ali Khan is known to have said, “Now I know what a star is!” He had settled for a second-class existence and a supporting actor at that time.

Dil Chahta Hai changed all that. For the first time, he was appreciated and he tasted blood. Saif became more sure about himself and took himself more seriously. Films like Kal Ho Na Ho, an episode in Darna Mana Hai, LOC Kargil showcased his new personality. The trend culminated in Hum Tum where he played a cartoonist and Saif Khan arrived! This film made him. Ek Hasina Thi followed but bombed. Yet, Saif Khan’s journey toward big success was unabated.

His marriage to Amrita Singh was the first victim of his success. Amrita had been humiliating him and undermining his self confidence and Saif, a sensitive only-son of successful parents (Sharmila Tagore and Nawab of Pataudi) suffered from low self-esteem

He walked out.

Parineeta, Salaam Namaste and Being Cyrus have displayed a new, more confident Saif Ali Khan. His forthcoming films are Mr Mehta and Mrs Singh.

He received some aclaim for Omkara, where he co-starred with Ajay Devgan and Vivek Oberoi. 'Ta Ra Rum Pum' where he paired up with Rani Mukherjee was loosely based on 'Cindrella man' with some bits from 'Life is beautiful'. Produced by Yashraj films, a weak publicity campaign was its undoing and it released to a lukewarm response.

The first-born child of celebrity parents Mansoor Ali Khan, the Nawab of Pataudi and actress Sharmila Tagore, Saif Ali Khan spent most of his formative years in a boarding school in England. "But I never missed a chance to come home in the holidays because I felt that there was no place like home, for whatever reasons," Saif recalls. "But I really feel fortunate to have been able to have had that kind of an education." And after having lived in Bhopal and in Bombay, he was also exposed to the film industry since he used to accompany his mother on her outdoor locations and studio shootings whenever he was here on holidays. "I was never really conscious of my mom being a star. It was very natural, because she was a star even before I was born. . It made me proud that my parents were celebrities, but never to the point that I felt I had certain expectations to live up to. They were far too careful for that."

Despite a sheltered upbringing, Saif grew up to be a spoilt, completely wild guy and it affected his relationship with his parents. "Yeah, I was wild," he admits. "But when I say wild, I don't imply girls. There is an whole attitude behind being wild, which means that I didn't know what I wanted to do. And that is what my parents objected to. But I have no regrets. Enough, I don't feel the need to do it now. It has been great, it has been crazy and it has been an experience to have done certain things." However, his entry into films was a nightmare. Rahul Rawail threw him out of his debut venture, 'Bekhudi', citing indiscipline as the reason. It was only after Yash Chopra cast him in a multi-starrer, 'Parampara' that things began to look up for him. But not for too long. He was considered to be a terrible dancer and a poor actor.

Things came to a standstill until Yash Chopra came to his rescue once again. He was signed for 'Yeh Dillagi', a love triangle love story starring Akshay Kumar, Saif Ali Khan and Kajol. The film became a big hit but it did very little to help the young actor to further his standing in the industry. Luckily at that point, there was no dearth of offers and Saif signed film after film but unfortunately for him none of his films did good business. They all flopped. "Yes, my films have flopped badly but the responsibility of these flops doesn't entirely rest on my shoulders. I agree that I have made the wrong choices, but films like 'Yaar Gaddar' and 'Suraksha' weren't made properly. I am not trying to say that it was solely the director's fault either."

According to him, in this industry, talent has got nothing to do with box-office collections. "So I didn't feel bad when my movies did not do well. No one can say for sure why a film does well or why a film flops. Good films like 'Lamhe' haven't done well. You feel bad for some time and that's it. Life moves on. At least I didn't let my flops affect me."

In recent times, Saif Ali Khan has split with girlfriend Rosa.