Mention Zayed Khan and immediately, you think about Lucky Sharma whose wild locks matched his rebellious streak. What Zayed himself remembers from Main Hoon Naa is a slipper sailing through the air towards him and an exasperated director, Farah Khan, hollering, “That’s not the step I gave you!” Just back in the country, Zayed’s gushing over Sheila ki jawani.. from Farah’s Tees Maar Khan. “She hasn’t lost the Midas touch,” he marvels. “Farah is the only woman in the world who can make any woman or man dance to her tunes,” he chuckles.
Farah has turned producer with Three’s Company. Zayed too has launched his own banner, Born Free Entertainment, with actor Dia Mirza and writer-director Sahil Sangha. “We spent six hours one day wondering what to call our company. Then, Sahil woke me up in the middle of the night to suggest Born Free. I hadn’t seen the film till he made me, but it had a nice ring to it, “ Zayed reminisces, describing himself as a “tamed lion”.His cub, Zidaan, has a Lion King room and after one of his nightly wrestling matches, points to Mufasa (character of Lion King) and says, "Papa", the lioness is mama Malaika, and Simba is almost-three Ziddan. "He’s a chip of the old block," papa says proudly.
His own dad, producer-director-actor Sanjay Khan, he admits, reacted to his suggestion of turning producer with a raised eyebrow. Fortunately for Zayed, he loves Dia and was impressed with Sahil. “And after a tour of the office and hearing some of the names we’d roped in, the skepticism turned into a smirk. Hopefully by the time the film is complete, the smirk will have become a smile,” says Zayed.
In two weeks he promises a formal announcement of his first production. Dia and he will play the leads in their first production because the “parts seem to be written for us” but it will also have a great ensemble cast. “Production is inherent in our family but the reason I got into it is because I want to make films that are masala yet socially meaningful, glossy but economically viable,” he says. “The first film will go on the floors on February 8 with a start-to-finish 50-day schedule.”
Zayed took an “introspection” break from acting to build himself up, learn a new martial arts, brush up on his dancing, attend some acting classes and start his company. It ended with a call from Venus offering him an action adventure. He’s just returned from a Tezz shoot, raving about Mohanlal’s straight-faced humour and talent. “We have another schedule coming up in Scotland and London, aboard one of those bullet trains. Director Priyadarshan is going out on a limb to break his image of a comedy king,” he muses.
He’s also waiting to team up with director, Antony D’Souza again. “He has some great ideas, Blue had some of the best action ever shot in Bollywood,” Zayed says, adding that it failed to deliver because it was conceived during the boom period and executed during the recession: “We had the option of pulling out or cutting corners. But Ashtavinayak and Anthony went ahead with a Rs 80 crore film. A producer has to be brave... lion-hearted!”