The rebel is ready to roll
If we've not heard too much from Zayed Khan this year, there's a reason for the silence. The young Khan has been hit by injuries that have kept him out of action for quite some time.
First he suffered a slipped disc in February this year, while doing an action sequence for Vikram Bhatt's Speed. Both Khan and the film hit a speedbreaker when that happened.
The star had to take a forced holiday in bed for 40 days and the film's schedules were hit because, soon after, Zayed was committed to a long schedule for the Rock Star series of concerts in the US, UK and Dubai, from the end of April to the first week of June.
Barely had he come back and got into the swing of things when Zayed suffered a foot injury that put him out of action again, though for a shorter while.
"I call this my kalyug year," he jokes about his run with injuries. "One takes all precautions, but I guess when something's gotta go wrong, it does."
However things seem to be looking up for him now with a clutch of films coming up. First off is Rocky – The Rebel, with him in the lead and co-starring Isha Sharvani and Minissha Lamba. This Khan has a reputation for being hot-blooded, so how much of a rebel was he in his college days?
"Quite a lot," he drawls with a wide grin. "But I'm sure most of us have been rebellious in our student days. At that age, you don't want to succumb to any restrictions, you want to lead your life the way you'd like to, without a care of what the world thinks or says. If I were told not to do a certain thing, I would actually make it a point to do just that."
As for how much of his natural rebelliousness will spill over onto the screen, Zayed says, "One always tends to give a part of oneself to the role. But I've done so in a very subtle manner and not overtly, as is generally believed."
Next will be the much-delayed Speed, which also stars Urmila Matondkar and Aftab Shivdasani. "Speed has shaped up really well," says Zayed. Besides, there's Anubhav Sinha's Cash with Ajay Devgan and Ritesh Deshmukh, plus a film each with Vashu Bhagnani, T-Series and Firoz Nadiadwala.
And what of Qurbani, his uncle Feroz Khan's remake of his earlier film with cousin Fardeen – how come the senior Khan is looking for an actor to replay Vinod Khanna's role, when his nephew could well fit in?
"The idea of casting Fardeen and myself did come up," admits Zayed, "but Ferozcha (short for Feroz chacha!) felt otherwise. He told me that since Vinod Khanna's character is a father of a seven-year girl, casting me for it would age me onscreen. And it would be better for me to do roles that suit my age and image."
Things are moving up for Zayed outside of films, too, with a couple of endorsements in his bag. The latest is ID shoes, a brand for which he's shooting today. Though he's not involved in the designing of this particular range, Zayed will be involved in the designing of his ZK signature range.
"It will be an exclusive limited edition collection, more upmarket and higher-priced. I'll be looking into every aspect of every design," he says.
And of course, there's his eight-month old marriage to long-term sweetheart Malaika? Marriage seems to have done him good, I remark. "I think so," he agrees. "One does get more mature and wiser with the responsibility that comes with marriage."
And with sister Suzanne having become a mother recently, babies are much on Zayed's mind, and his family's too, he laughs. "Dad keeps asking me, 'Humko dada kab banaaoge?' Well, we are planning one. I absolutely adore children, so Insha Allah it will happen soon."