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If you want to express yourself, word your SMSes properly: Saif Ali Khan

After playing the sidekick and the second fiddle, today Saif Ali Khan has a rock-steady career with a marriage to match. The Nawab from The Happy Ending talks about commitment-phobia, the idea of romance, and relationships from a man’s perspective.

brunch Updated: Nov 22, 2014 16:15 IST
Nihit Bhave
Nihit Bhave
Hindustan Times

After playing the sidekick and the second-fiddle for the first few years of his career, Saif Ali Khan stopped being just the comic-relief and turned his career around in the early 2000s. The dishevelled hair was gone, raw magnetism replaced that silly charm and the boy who cried ‘love’ grew into a man who went forth and claimed it.

Today, he’s one of the Khans and has a rock-steady career, with a marriage to match. Saif Ali Khan explains why boys just want to be boys in relationships.

Happy Ending claims to tell the story of relationships from the guy’s perspective; is it a rom-com for guys?
Most rom-coms in the past have been chick flicks, but this one talks about the male side. It’s got a relaxed sense of humour and a better personality than female-centric romances.

Were you particularly romantic as a young man? Men rarely plan for the idea of forever.
I don’t remember what I wanted when I was younger. I probably just wanted to make sure I had enough money to continue doing the rubbish I was doing [in my love life]. I think more about stability today. I want emotional stability and a nice home.

What problems do men have in relationships?
Commitment is the biggest one. Then there’s laziness, and [not] manning up at the right time.

Why don’t men man up? Why are most men commitment phobic?
I hope I don’t sound sexist, but I think women need security, and it isn’t a priority for men. I think women look for protection, they like to be looked after… Wait, that’s sexist! [laughs] Let’s just say most women look for someone to protect them, whereas men are the ‘providers’ of said protection in societal terms.

Men wonder why they would want to take on that kind of a responsibility… So avoiding commitment is just another way of shrugging off some responsibility for men!

As the stereotype goes, women are dramatic and men are indifferent to the drama. Do you think that’s unfair?
I think women get away with a lot because of this stereotype! [laughs] People expect guys to be a certain way – to be unfaithful. I think women benefit from these preconceived notions.

Do you put yourself out there, make an effort when it comes to romance?

I have written a lot of things for women. I’ve written poems, love-letters and such. I think it’s good to be able to articulate a thought. And I don’t like to express in short cut. I cannot write, ‘Cl me ltr’; that’s preposterous. I mean, if you want to express yourself, word your SMSes properly. That’s the least you can do!

Have you ever cried while watching a rom-com? Do you dare admit it?
I’ve never cried during a rom-com. Unless I was crying because it was going on for too long.

That is such a guy thing to say!
Yeah, my wife makes fun of me for that. The thing is, given an option between a rom-com and Interstellar, I’d pick the latter without batting an eyelid! Mushy films aren’t my thing.

Have you ever been asked to get in touch with your feminine side?
No, I think I’m quite in touch with my feminine side! I am, however, averse to the idea of cheesy romance. Flowers, candies and Valentine’s Day aren’t my idea of romance. I like candles and walks on the beach, though. I like setting the mood. I don’t think that’s mush.

Kareena and I have very different personalities. She’s deep, stable and grounded, even more so than I am. But thankfully, our ideas of romance coincide.

How much does sex contribute to making a relationship work?
Intimacy matters. That’s a fact. I don’t know whether it can make or break a relationship, but physical intimacy is as important as emotional intimacy.

But is sex the end game for men?
I don’t know if it’s the end game but it’s certainly something that people shouldn’t take for granted. It can be the ground for a solid relationship.

While women can rattle off the top qualities they want in a man, men are often tongue-tied when it comes to describing their dream woman. What do you think?
I think as long as the basics are in place, every relationship should be taken as it comes. Men shouldn’t expect their women to know the solutions to the problems of the universe. Sometimes if you want to talk about something and your wife doesn’t understand where you’re coming from, you can always talk to a friend who may understand you better.

Off the top of your head, what are the most important things for men in relationships? What do men want?
Men just want to feel important. Every man wants to matter in his partner’s lives and decisions. Of course, some of them even want to be guiding lights and philosophers for their women – not sure that’s always recommended!

As one who has been vocal about being a one-woman man, what do you think of one-night stands?
I think they’re great! [laughs] On a serious note, it’s a very subjective concept. It’s very psychological, actually. People need to be held, to be touched and taken care of. And if that happens with a stranger, it has its own excitement and charm. But it can also turn into an addiction. These encounters aren’t based on reality or personality; they’re based on ideas of each other. I would never condemn it. Most of my relationships have started as one-night stands.

So is Kareena the happy ending you’d been waiting for?
Let’s call it a Happy Constant State, or a Happy State of Being. Or… Happy Enough.

He’s Just Not That Into You
Saif Ali Khan gets into the shoes of misunderstood boyfriends all over the world and sets the record straight:

Why doesn’t he call back?
Because he doesn’t want to fall into the trap and feel that he has to call every single time. If he feels that he isn’t ‘answerable’, then he probably will call back. He just wants to ‘be’! Sometimes when you call people you want to, it gets to a point where you’ve to call them even if you don’t want to anymore.

What does he mean by “Give me more space”?
Exactly that! He means, “Don’t cling so much, I can’t breathe! I want to be myself and do other things and call you when I want to.”

Why won’t he hold hands with me in public?
Well, it could be that he’s ashamed! [laughs]. He’s probably too awkward about PDA. But I don’t think holding hands is a big deal.

Why won’t he just commit?
You know, people who wear their hearts on their sleeves make hasty decisions. Some people who commit too fast retract even faster. It’s always better to be a bit phobic, than committing and regretting it later.

What about his roving eye?
There isn’t much you can do about it, actually. Wait till he’s 40, and see if it goes away. But give him some space. If he acts on it, then dump him!

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From HT Brunch, November 23
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First Published: Nov 19, 2014 18:29 IST