How do I introduce an actor whose films I supported pretty but as soon as he made his debut? How do I explain how his presence on screen and off has always been something I have avidly watched and seen to evolve? How do I convey the somewhat subtle impact of this actor’s lack of signature style in cinema, easily making him an entertainment front-runner with his ability to re-invent himself in each role he delivers? Perhaps I’m biased… perhaps i’m not. Either way I believe Saif Ali Khan has developed into a fine actor whose fan-following and respect within the industry has grown immensely with time. The actor celebrates his 41st birthday today and as a tribute, I had a think about the films I’ve enjoyed watching him in the most and once again I’ve cut down my long list to just a select few. I hope you enjoy my selection!
Yeh Dillagi (1994)
This is a movie I hold very close to heart and this is when I truly gave my heart to Saif. Co-starring Akshay Kumar and Kajol, Yeh Dillagi was a sweet story about two brothers who fall in love with the same girl, who happens to be the daughter of their driver. In a tale with a few twists and turns, Saif stands out because his performance as the cheeky, flirty but loveable Vicky is perhaps the highlight of the movie. His wardrobe, looking back, left a lot to be desired but was acceptable back in those days. The suits and jackets in multi colours and the longish hair coupled with the mischievous antics as well as the immensely popular ‘Ole Ole’… it was all enough to make this role of his not only unforgettable but also one that will be remembered by many of his well-wishers.
Dil Chahta Hai (2001)
A film which is celebrating 10 years of success this year, Dil Chahta Hai’s USP comes in it’s underlying theme of friendship. It explores the stories of three friends, with Aamir Khan and Akshaye Khanna making up the trio with Saif. Saif plays Sameer who is the group’s joker, the most gullible and the mostwatchable. He gets the most laughs from me and these laughs, I feel, turned into a comic style which suits Saif the best. The comedy he featured in after Dil Chahta Hai seemed to stem from his performance of Sameer. He, quite simply, shines in this role and when watching the movie again, one can’t help but value his rendition more and more each time.
Kal Ho Naa Ho (2003)
This movie gave birth to one of the most celebrated comic duos of the last decade. Saif’s pairing with Shah Rukh Khan is easily one of the best parts of Kal Ho Naa Ho. The movie is about a “farishta” (SRK) who enters in the life of Naina and her family, played by Preity Zinta, and how she falls in love with him but ends up spending her life with her best friend, Rohit (Saif). Saif’s sometimes vulnerable, sometimes bechara, sometimes sweet and sometimes romantic performance as Rohit won the hearts of everyone. One particular scene which springs to mind is that when the trio are walking home drunk from the club where they danced to “It’s the Time to Disco”. His cute but hardly sober acting in this scene makes me laugh and also makes me want to go and give him a huge hug. Aww… huggable Saif!
In my opinion, this is perhaps Saif’s most beautiful film to date. Everything about this film works for the actor: his pairing with Vidya Balan, his handsomeness in a role with a setting not in modern times, his performance as Shekhar, a possessive and set-in-his-way character is perfect for the movie. I cannot imagine anyone else playing this role quite in the same way as Saif did and the whole ambience and treatment of the story in the film is what makes it visually appealing. The music of the movie was also hugely popular with songs of a timeless and melodious nature. My favourite of the lot is Kasto Mazaa which show a very handsome Saif travelling in a train dreaming of his lady love.
Salaam Namaste (2005)
The second of Saif’s offerings in the same year, Salaam Namaste’s comedy and contemporary plot are what makes this a film appreciated by the masses. The Australian backdrop also served the narrative well, as well as his chemistry with his co-star Preity Zinta. It’s safe to say that Saif looked his best in the movie and the modern attire, the unconventional story and the music of the movie were all added plus points. This is also the movie in which Saif was seen topless in the title song, shot on a beach. He not only looked good but he also made the audiences laugh… what else does a girl want? In short, the word ‘perfect’ would be perfect in describing Saif’s performance as the good-with-food Nikhil Arora.
Although this movie saw Saif in a hugely negative character, it makes it’s way on to my list because he did so well at the portrayal. Co-starring his real-life girlfriend Kareena Kapoor, Kurbaan was about a man who falls in love with the lady he initially befriended in order to enter America to unleash terror upon the state with his acquaintances. A controversial plot and a deceitful character; these were the factors which went against Kurbaan from the offset. However, his sleek and persistent portrayal of a man who woos his colleague and supports her transfer to an unknown country. In the end, although his character’s actions are heart-breaking, his love doesn’t waiver. Perhaps this is what sticks with me about Saif in Kurbaan. Perhaps Saif-Kareena were just too mesmerising on screen or the impact this movie had on me in the days that followed after I saw it for the first time made me include it in this list.
Here’s wishing Saif a very happy birthday and here’s hoping his forthcoming ventures break box office records. This is my personal wish for a Khan who, I feel, doesn’t always get his due. He is perhaps an underrated actor and deserves much more recognition for his films and performances than he gets, arguably. May he continue to be the stable and steady star that he is and may we see his style of comedy in his projects to come.