Saif Ali Khan has been playing some of the most interesting characters of his career in the last few years, starting with Sartaj Singh for Sacred Games, and now he is playing a Naga Sadhu in Laal Kaptaan, which releases on October 18.
In this interview with indianexpress.com, the actor talks about how he is tired of working on a line-up of films, and the need to focus on one film at a time.
Excerpts from the interview:
Q) You have had an amazing line-up of work in 2019- Sacred Games 2, Laal Kaptaan, Jawaani Janeman, Tanhaji. How satisfying is it to you as an actor?
Yeah, I have been concentrating too much on the line-up, in a sense that there is one after another, after another. Sacred Games 2, then Laal Kaptaan, these two were really exhausting, and there is Tanhaji which is equally exhausting. There were films being signed and three films I shot for, but I really want to stop and wait for something different and special.
I am doing an Ali Abbas show, Tandav, which is an Amazon show, and we start shooting in a couple of days. Then in January, I am doing Bhoot Police and then I am not doing anything else. What I mean is that there has been a lot of work that I have done in these days and I need to slow down, as I am getting tired of it, taking it slow will help me focus on what I really like.
Q) This is your first period drama. We have a trend where we had a number of period dramas releasing in the last few years.
I am very excited about that, I hope I get to do more period dramas, as it is a different kind of acting and I have gotten quite good at it. It took me some time to understand, but now I am good at it. I have two period dramas, Laal Kaptaan and Tanhaji. I think Tanhaji is how most period dramas are made, it has a lot of CG and you are on sets, so it is easier. Whereas for Laal Kaptaan, we were on live locations, with kilos of costume and dust… I get tired thinking of this film. I can’t believe we did it, it is too difficult. I had to be on a horse, with so many props and doing scenes… The only way you can make a film like this, on a budget like ours, is by exploiting people- either the unit, the actor, the technicians, everything has to be exploited. You couldn’t do it in America where human rights are taken more seriously. We could do it because people were working over time. The way the assistants, technicians, location managers, pulled this kind of thing off was not possible to do, given our budget.
Q) Does that consume you a lot personally?
Films like this have to consume you, because it is truly a passion project. This was something I was not free to say no, because of my love for movies. There is something about being on a horse and riding into the sunset, riding out of a sunset, and being into that whole romantic world of this lone horseman action hero, cross between a kind of Italian- Western and a heartland Hindi. These character are crazier than the western characters, the time this is set is wilder than the wild west. We don’t know our own history in so many places. The Naga Sadhus were like badass warriors who fought against the Moguls, and the British in the Battle of Buxar.
Q) You are playing an out and out dark role after Langda Tyagi in Omkara. How different or similar is Laal Kaptaan?
Not really, it is not even close. Of course it has got a rustic tone to the voice, but that’s it, maybe that’s why it is reminding people of Langda Tyagi, but he was like a Shakespearean villain, and this is what happens when you have the villain as a hero. Which is what the modern or the neo western films are also like. It is a style of filmmaking. Normally these guys might have been background characters, or might have been even henchmen of some bad guy, but you are making them the main guy. That’s how characters change in movies, to make unlikely heroes.
Q) In a time when superstars of your generation aren’t open to experimenting with web, you did.
They are very smart. They are making a lots of money, and are making the right choices. Whereas fools like me are doing these films which are supposed to be very artistic and beautiful and cool.
I am always excited to get the offer. When Aanand L Rai said he wanted to make it…he is a smart producer. Navdeep Singh, the director, is a lovely lovely guy. I had heard so many things about him, that he is scary, he is a bit scary, he loses his temperature, he is yelling like a passionate general. But on day two, I looked at him and said to him that I would follow him to hell if need be, because I love the kind of leader he is. He can be mad, and he obviously has to be mad to make this, we all have to be mad, you can’t make this film if you aren’t mad.
But hopefully the producer is not mad, but that’s what you have to do to make a film like Laal Kaptaan, you get a bunch of mad people.