Fenil and Bollywood

Monica Bedi-Saif’s favourite!

Posted on: November 5, 2009

I don’t know what the trade pundits have to say about Karan Johar’s Kurbaan, but Saif Ali Khan, whose first film this is opposite Kareena

Saif Ali Khan

Saif Ali Khan More Pics

Kapoor, is very confident about the November 20 release.

MARK MANUEL (Bombay Times; November 5, 2009)

“I’ve a good feeling about it,” he told me. We were talking on the phone because he’s here, there and everywhere promoting the film, and just not available in Mumbai.

Tuesday he was in Delhi, yesterday London, next Dubai. “There’s more to life than shooting,” he sighed. In the background, I could hear Kareena prompting his replies. They’re not doing all the promotions together, because she’s busy making Stepmom with Karan at the same time, and Saif… well, after this he swore he’s taking a month off in December to “train and get into serious shape” before they start shooting for his home production Agent Vinod. His idea of training is not the same as Aamir’s or, say, Salman’s.
“I won’t get a funda trainer… but just kill myself in the gym. It’ll be a combo of yoga and weights. You don’t need a NASA scientist to get a great body,” he chortled.

He’s worked with Karan before in Kal Ho Na Ho, but that time, the filmmaker was completely involved in every aspect of the film. This time, Karan has left it to director Rensil D’Silva. “So the film’s got its own flavour,” explained Saif, “Rensil has brought his ad world sensibilities to Kurbaan, and this is not a filmi kind of movie… it’s a love story and thriller with a socio-politically relevant background. When I step back and see the promos, the posters, I’m like – wow!” Which means he’s confident about what it will do at the box-office. “But there’s also the risk of an off-screen couple being boring on-screen,” he admitted.

“Which means Bebo and I have to choose our roles carefully. We’ve got to present an exciting avatar on-screen… more than the usual pairing. And that we have done in this film. I was equally confident about Love Aaj Kal (his last film and first home production)… but there were moments of panic as well then. In this business, it’s tough to be consistent about your emotions. I can’t be like a rock. I go through ambivalence.”

There’s a lot riding for Kareena, as well, in Kurbaan… especially since her last film Main Aur Mrs Khanna, and Kambakht Ishq before that, didn’t exactly do much for her at the box-office. Saif, aware that she is listening to our conversation, defended his co-star and love. “I preferred her in Jab We Met,” he said cleverly.

“And I thought she looked stunning in Kambakht Ishq. It was a clever attempt at a commercial potboiler. Akshay was very funny. But people discuss Kambakth Ishq as if it was of great national importance. It was a fun film. Main Aur Mrs Khanna… I’m not sure, I saw a rough print, I don’t watch too many films, I’m not an authority… it was a sweet film, I don’t know what to say, baba! I think she chooses all kinds of films. She covers the entire spectrum of Hindi cinema in her choices… not all of them for the best! She’s done Kambakht Ishq and Main Aur Mrs Khanna this year, now she’s got Kurbaan, then 3 Idiots, and she’s working on Stepmom… all different. I think she works more for the audience than herself!”

They’ve worked together in Tashan earlier. The film, well, was disastrous… but it brought them close. Was Kareena different as an actress then, I asked. Saif hummed and hawed, then safely replied, “The same… she’s focused and a sensitive artiste, very concentrated. Also great fun to work with. I had just a couple of scenes with her in Tashan. So Kurbaan is really my first experience with her. There are few people I’ve met who are more passionate about their work. And I’m impressed with that. It’s not just about giving your shot… her knowledge of cinema is great and all round, and she has a deep interest, which I find very cool.”

Naturally, there must have been joys and pains in working with her. I pictured him giving her a backward glance then saying, “No pains, being together, creating something special, watching each other at work… those were the joys. I normally don’t have to worry about my co-star’s moods because I’ve not been so deeply involved with a co-star. But here we were connected. So I had to take time… to get comfortable… to find my own space… to figure out what to do between shots, how to unwind, I mean… we didn’t have to be together all the time. It’s a bit like working with your mom… she knows you so well, there’s no scope of impressing her!

” So, who’s your favourite actress, I asked Saif Ali Khan, the artful dodger. “Suchitra Sen, Zeenat Aman, Madhubala…” he began. Then, “Oh, you mean who I’ve worked with… I don’t know what to say… I’ve not worked with too many… but Rani’s a great co-star and Kareena’s fab… but my favourite actress, hmmm…” And Kareena Kapoor replied for him from the background, “Monica Bedi!”

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