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Saif celebrating Padma Shri

Padma Shriat 37, then why not Padma Bhushan at 44. It will be realistic landmark to aspire, says actor Saif Ali Khan who recently bagged the Padma Shri.

entertainment Updated: Apr 08, 2010, 20:34 IST
Roshmila Bhattacharya
Roshmila Bhattacharya
Hindustan Times

Saif who won a Padma shri says he aspires to win the Padma Bhushan at 44.

So, have people started addressing you as Padma Shri Saif Ali Khan yet?
(Laughs) They do, in my office, but it’s more of a joke. But there’s been a mention of it when I’ve been introduced on stage at award functions and in the newspapers as well. It took a while for the news to sink in but now I feel good about it. It’s a good thing that they announce the award in advance and give you a few weeks to get used to it before it is conferred on you.

There’s still a section that believes that at 40 you’re way too young to be conferred a Padma Shri?
I don’t think age has anything to do with it. In fact, I’d say it’s good that the government is changing its stance and recognising young talent. The honour was not mine to decide anyway. But now that I’ve been accorded the title, it’s up to me to live up to it and prove that I am a deserving choice and worthy of the honour.

Ever since the news was announced the Twitterati have been pretty ‘vocal’ in their posts. One such post reads: Saif Ali Khan gets a Padma Shri for what? To get Kareena to size zero. I thought was a scientific achievement. Comment.
Twitter is an open public forum where a lot of people have access to each other’s thoughts. We live in a democracy and everyone is entitled to his or her opinion. Your psychotic neighbour could post something tomorrow.It is up to you to decide how many such posts you will read and take seriously.

On my part, I believe that the government of India is a finely balanced body and I respect their decision rather than that of some tweeple. I’d much rather laugh off such comments. Unlike so many of your star colleagues are surprisingly inactive on Twitter.I’m connected to the Internet and value social networking sites like Facebook, Orkut and Twitter as a means to stay connected.

My daughter (Sara) is on Facebook and Twitter all the time. These are youth created social mechanisms and the under-20 group is completely hooked. But for me they are just mediums to keep track of family and friends at home and abroad.

And when I have a film coming up for release, I’ll use them as a way of reaching out to people and a means of promotion. But otherwise I’m much too private a person to share my thoughts with the world. I’d rather keep my distance from stranger friends unless I strike a deal with some mobile company that pays me to stay‘connected’.

There’s been some talk of Twitter fatigue lately.That was bound to happen. The Internet may well be an effective means of communication but the initial excitement had to die down with time. It is only the teenagers who are tweeting every day.

Getting back to the Padma Shri, Kareena accompanied you to the Rashtrapati Bhavan yesterday. Does this make the relationship official? She’s been sporting a huge rock on her ring finger. Has there been a secret engagement?
No, there’s been no engagement. The day there’s something to announce, you’ll be the first to know. But for now there’s no new status report on our relationship, unfortunately. I wanted Kareena by my side on this important day and she came along. She’s not been keeping well — she was a little overworked — but she’s fine now. The trip to Delhi will be relaxing for her.

Your parents, the Mansoor Ali Khan Patuadi and Sharmila Tagore, weren’t at the function. It’s been reported that they are out of town?
No, they are in Delhi. We met them yesterday. I just didn’t ask them to come along. (Laughs) It would have been too much.

What has been their reaction to the Padma Shri?
I have a pretty down-to-earth family. My father felt it was well deserved. Amma pointed out that I would have to live up to the honour. Neither of them went overboard in their praise and in fact, downplayed it. (Chuckles) I guess, they were concerned about it going to my head.

What about your children?
Sara congratulated me and did mention it a couple of time. (Laughs) But Ibrahim blissfully has no idea!Your Padma Shri has given Kareena the hope that she could be in the running for the honour too, may be five years down the line.This honour comes to me for my contribution to cinema and going by that logic, Kareena has done plenty of good work too. She is an incredibly talented actress.

And what’s the next goal for you, the Padma Bhushan?
Why not? I’ve always looked up to Aamir (Khan) as a role model. And after winning the Padma Shri at 37, he’s been conferred with the Padma Bhushan at the age of 44. So, it’s a realistic landmark to aspire to.

You think you could get it before the age of 44?
This is not a race against time, we’re talking about a national honour that is conferred on you for the quality of your work. So the best way to work towards it is to do your work with diligence and leave the rest to God and the government of India.

‘Agent Vinod was to flag off on May 20, it will’
On rumours of Kareena pushing back the launch

Agent Vinod was to flag off on May 20, it will. There has been no delay because Kareena wanted to get started with Ra. 1 and Golmaal 3 first. Had it been necessary, we would have waited for an actor’s dates, made the necessary adjustments in our schedule. That happens sometimes but in this case it didn’t.

Yes, there have been plenty of rumours flying around, thick and fast, that Kareena was unavailable to us and that’s the reason we had to push the film forward, but that’s true.Agent Vinod is my second home production and it’s a deeply exciting time for me. Kareena compares my office to an over-heated sauna. May be it is. But it’s a place you’d want to be at, there’s so much of positive energy and wonderful creativity around.

The making of a movie is a fascinating journey. An idea takes root in someone’s mind, blossoms into a script and then is dressed up by the choreographer, set designer, costume designer, action director, music composer, editor, sound recordist, the actors, director and producer. It’s overwhelming to see a story come to life on screen.

As an actor-producer I don’t pretend to know all that there is to know about the craft. In fact, I’d readily admit that I’m still clueless but I’m hoping to learn with every film I make. Filmmaking is not mystical science, you get the hang of it with time and get the kind of creative control you’ve yearned for as an actor.

I have some capable people on my team who can do what I can’t. And given that Love Aaj Kal was a good, commercially successful film, I guess we must be doing things right.

‘In a way it’s a relief’
On losing out at the IPL auction

Yes, we had gone to the auction to bid for the Pune team. We lost out to Sahara. We’d done a lot of paperwork. The proposition worked for us at the earlier price, not at the price at which the team eventually went. It wouldn’t have made good business sense for us eventually. We don’t have that kind of money.

In retrospect, I’d say both Kareena and I are frankly relieved we lost out. We’d have had to extend ourselves had we jumped on to the IPL bandwagon. We’d have lost our focus. Both of us are actors and right now we need to concentrate on our acting careers rather than on cricket.

Will I get into any other sport like boxing, hockey and football? I shouldn’t think so, it would just be a rip-off of the first idea. Though hockey is our national sport and soccer and boxing are popular too, they are nowhere close to cricket that continues to be India’s key game.Why am I not seen on the IPL field? I am part of the TV audience and don’t believe in hopping from one city to another to catch a game. I don’t even support any one team. I support Team India.

‘For starters, we have to get married first’
On having a baby with kareena

Yes, I was at the hospital with Kareena and Sanjay (Kapur) waiting for Karisma to deliver her baby. It was a private family moment for all of us that ended happily with Kiaan’s birth. When do I plan to have a baby with Kareena? Let us take one step at a time, right? For starters, we have to get married first.

‘I wish every day was like a lazy Sunday afternoon’
On being a mumbaikar

I have grown to love this city in the time that I shifted back to build a career in Bollywood. I love Mumbai with all its concrete buildings, coconut trees and crows. I just wish there were fewer people which is cruel, I guess. Also, I wish there was less traffic. That we can keep in check. I want every day was like a lazy Sunday afternoon.

‘We don’t want the audience to get exhausted’ On why Kareena opted out of Race 2.It was a conscious professional decision on Kareena’s part to opt out of Race 2. We don’t want the audience to get tired of seeing us together. It’s common for a certain exhaustion to creep in with off-screen couples. I think people would like to see Kareena and me on screen with other actors given that they see us together away from the camera often enough. So though Kareena is a wonderful actor and co-star, we’ve decided to be careful about the assignment that we take on, whether it’s a film or an ad.

It’s easier being interviewed’
On why he’s not doing TV.

I have come on TV on a few occasions, sometimes to promote my films, occasionally, as a participant on a game show. I have been offered some game shows to host but nothing really exciting. Would I do a chat show? I don’t know. Just today, I had to interview some participants on a TV show and I found myself thinking that it was easier to do interviews than conduct them.

Ads are a good connect’
On being a much-wanted brand ambassador

I’ve been fortunate in that a lot of top brands have wanted me as their brand ambassador. I’m endorsing as many as 11 products. With some of them the association goes back to a few years. It’s nice when they want to extend your contract because you work for them.

Ads are a good way to make a quick buck. But it’s not only about money, honey, It’s also a great way to connect with your audience because your commercials air more on TV than your movies. I’ve been selective about what I sign up for. I want my name only to be associated with quality brands that represent my country.Recently, I have given the nod to a well-known suiting brand. Do I wear suits? I do, when I’m abroad but rarely at home and particularly not in this weather.

‘I’m happy where I am’
On rumours that he’s bought a new home

No, I haven’t moved into a new home though I have been looking at property. For the moment, I’m happy in my Bandra place. Kareena has got herself a new apartment. Did I have a say in the interiors? No, I didn’t. Twinkle Khanna, our interior decorator,& wouldn’t have tolerate any interference on my part though I have certain specific tastes as far as the décor in my home goes. But I also know when to quit while still ahead.

‘Farhan talks of doing something together’
On his musical plans

I enjoy playing the guitar, it’s a wonderful feeling. I’d love to play at clubs and smaller venues, have a good time with the band. Farhan (Akhtar) has been talking of doing something together. Let’s see if something concrete comes up. No, I won’t be playing the guitar in Agent Vinod. Why should I? I’m not playing a rock star but a RAW agent. It’s an action adventure, completely different from any film you’ve seen me in. I have to get really fit for the role. I’ve been pulling weights and doing yoga.

‘After 18 years I wanted a short break’
On why he’s not signing new films

I admit I’ve slowed down a bit, I’m a little tired. After 18 years, I wanted a short break to recharge my batteries. I was also setting up my own production house and I needed to concentrate on that. But now I plan to be back to doing three films a year.

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