His initial education in England had earned him enough nicknames and with good reason too. This khandani scion of a mega estate was considered a brat by his schoolmates and earned the sobriquet of chhote nawab and thanks to his aristocratic lifestyle had the dubious combination of being arrogant too.
Son of former Cricketing legend MAK Pataudi and superstar Sharmila Tagore, the critics just gave Saif Ali Khan two years in the fiercely competitive industry where an anglicized Hindi film hero would not be able to make it.
But Lady Luck decided to smile at him and despite his debut film's average success he received some offers to keep him busy.
Saif is unrepentant and doesn't feel the need to justify his evil machinations as Iago in Omkara
Unfortunately for him, most sank without a trace and this Khan, more in the news for his amorous escapes, would have packed his bags and left.
But then Farhan Akhtar's Dil Chahta Hai happened and overnight his fortunes changed.
Panned all along by the masses and the critics alike, he was pleasantly surprised that accolades were coming his way.
Obviously he needed the right breaks to prove his acting talent.
If last year's mega hits – Parineeta and Salaam Namaste, as also this year's Being Cyrus – are any indication, this Khan, who is never counted as among the triumvirate Khans ruling the roost, is making his own creative space for himself.
But this week's crown is irrefutably his – as Iago alias Landa Tyagi in Vishal Bhardwaj's adaptation of Shakespeare's Othello in Omkara – he is unrepentant and doesn't feel the need to justify his evil machinations. He is what he is – ruthless, conniving and unapologetic.
It is to his great credit that right from the intonation to his body language and down to his mannerisms, that of a rustic from the interiors of a Uttar Pradesh small town, all communicate his urge and his basic greed to perfection. And he deserves all the kudos for effectively interpreting his character's demands.
He is one character in the film, who despite being mean, would make people love him.
In the scene when Omi or Omkara rejects him and opts for Kesu (Viveik Oberoi) as his favourite deputy, Khan's face conveys all – envy, anger, deep hurt – all along underplaying his emotions and suppressing them.
His vile manipulations, careful balancing act since he has to present himself as the do gooder to his group leader and raging fury alternate in each frame of the two and a half hour long drama. But what viewers find appealing is not his seething passion to upstage but the deep-seated scorn that makes him do what he does – plot and maneuver his moves cautiously so as to come out unscathed.
In another scene, when a character points out how Khan has allowed himself to be superseded in the hierarchy of seniority by Kesu, his fiery passion displays distressed damage to his ego, but he doesn't resort to dramatics. What works to his advantage is his understated and subtle scheming that adds to his ruthlessness.
He does get all the support from his co-actors but does that make his contribution to making the film any less valuable? No way. Despite marvellous acting by the overall cast, the film could have turned into a loud revenge, jealousy and hatred drama had it not been his delicate handling and restrained performance.
Shall we have more such variety Junior Pataudi?