Sometimes you are so taken in by an actor on screen that you want to meet him, shake his hand and say, “Man, how did you do that?” I almost did it when I saw Saif Ali Khan’s (now legendary) brilliant comic set piece in Dil Chahta Hai. He didn’t even need to finish his sentences, just his facial expressions and his timing in the iconic one-sided phone conversation was gold. You know the scene I’m alluding to: The haan main…magar woh…suno toh….tumne toh…lekin main…kabse ke…main Aakash ke yahan...hello…scene.
Sometimes you are so taken in by an actor and his antics on screen that you want to meet him, shake him and say, “Man, how could you do that?” After watching Humshakals, I almost called Saif to ask him this. The phone call is pending because I really want to know what’s going on with him. I need an insight into his mind to understand why he chose Humshakals. He must have been really motivated to do this film because only then can he justify why he subjected himself and his audience to all the drooling, barking, hammy lines and the drag dressing that summarises his role in Humshakals. The film didn’t work for me at all, but to be fair I didn’t go in to see the film on the merit of its director Sajid Khan. I went in to see it for Saif because as an actor-viewer we’ve been more or less on the same page.
There was a time, post Hum Saath Saath Hai and Dil Chahta Hai when Saif was making the most exciting choices in the Mumbai film industry. With Kal Ho Naa Ho and Hum Tum, he reinvented the romantic comedy hero and came into his own with a flourish in Ek Haseena Thi, Parineeta, Being Cyrus and Omkaara. He announced himself as a true contender, challenging the existing star order. But then began his Saifeena phase with Tashan — and just when Saif was poised to take flight into the elusive Three-Only-Khans Club — the Saif story changed dramatically. This is when his celebrity creed grew to unhealthy proportions and his love life started getting more prominence than his acting life — somewhere in this phase, Saif lost the momentum. There are glimpses in Race, Love Aaj Kal, Agent Vinod and even the recent Go Goa Gone, but that true-blue Saif performance, which has the magic to surprise, where you want to shake his hand and say, “Man, how did you do that?” has been missing for a while. I miss that Saif. When will that Saif be back?