Bollywood star Saif Ali Khan believes sticking to one’s comfort zone could be tempting, but it is important for an actor to experiment to have a longer and respectable career. Saif found his groove with 2001’s Dil Chahta Hai, a decade after being in the industry, and reinvented himself with Omkara.
He has now become one of India’s first mainstream stars to venture into the digital space, with Netflix Original series Sacred Games.
Saif said, “If you’ve been successful at one type of thing, it could be tempting not to change that. But if you look at people who have slightly longer, wider and respected careers, they are the ones who have done different kinds of works.”
The actor says the country has “quite a mature film industry”, where different types of movies are made and not only “commercial.”
“There are people here who do different things, like Varun Dhawan doing ‘Badlapur’ which I saw recently. That’s an interesting choice. It adds to the respect I have for that actor which I assume is the same for everybody,” he says.
The 47-year-old actor believes good work cannot be done in isolation.
“Watching the work of others is a good way of knowing what’s happening around. The way to understand actors is to watch their work. Their work should speak for themselves,” he says.
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For now, the actor is geared up for Sacred Games. Set in modern-day Mumbai, the series revolves around a policeman and a criminal overlord.
Saif plays Sartaj Singh, a seasoned and cynical Bombay Police officer, who is summoned by an anonymous tip that promises him an opportunity to capture the powerful Ganesh Gaitonde (Nawazuddin Siddiqui), the criminal overlord of the G-Company.
As the stakes mount, Sartaj and Gaitonde realise that they are a part of a much larger scenario, which goes beyond the city.
For the actor, the opportunity to be part of the original show came knocking and he could not say no.
“I had heard Netflix was doing something in India and I thought as Illuminati films (his production house), we should do something in that space. I thought it would be great to do a mafia show, more than a love story or a comedy.
“It should be a show about cops and the mafia but, of course, presented in a new way. So when I was offered the show, I thought I would’ve done exactly the same thing but was offered it as an actor, so I jumped at it,” he says.
Sacred Games has been directed by Anurag Kashyap, who helms portions of Nawazuddin, and Vikramaditya Motwane, who has shot with Saif.
Motwane had said he chose to cast Saif because the actor has a sense of vulnerability in him. Saif says he is comfortable with his emotional side on screen.
“I’ve always been quite self-deprecating and easy. That’s the environment I grew up in. Lot of people are a bit more defensive, macho. But I am comfortable being in touch (with my vulnerability)… That’s the normal way of how one should be.
“Some people want to come across as very cool, strong, not say the wrong things, there is a lot of eminence front being put up. It’s not interesting to me. I find people like these very plastic. As long as directors think this is interesting, I hope they keep finding it so,” he says.
The Original series, based on the bestselling novel of the same name by Vikram Chandra, will be available on the streaming platform in all territories from July 6.