Posts Tagged ‘Manoj Bajpayee’

In the UAE Friday to be honoured by a luxury watch company, Bollywood heartthrob Saif Ali Khan opens up about his lineage, his career and ‘Saifeena’

It calls for a certain amount of class and breeding to be gracious while grappling with a personal loss. And Saif Ali Khan, just coming to terms with the death of his father, legendary cricketer Mansoor Ali Khan Pataudi, on September 22, has that in spades.
Graciously accepting my condolences with a polite “thank you, ma’am”, the award-winning actor — whose royal lineage is well-documented, with his ancestors ruling Pataudi, an erstwhile princely state near Delhi — spoke haltingly as he talked about the rich legacy left behind by his famous father.
“I looked up to my father tremendously — in almost every way. He was a remarkable man,” said Khan in an exclusive interview with tabloid! as he waited to board a flight to Mumbai.
Often referred to as the Chhote Nawab (junior prince) by the Indian press, the Aarakshan star is aware of his rich inheritance — more so than before. India, a nation full of cricket lovers, was plunged into grief when its beloved “Tiger” — a nickname his father earned for his aggressive sporting prowess — died.
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“He was so dignified and inspired so much respect in all of us. I will not emulate him, but I will try and absorb the very special qualities that made him the man that he is. I would like to carry on the good work that he was doing. I don’t know how to word it, but in whatever way I can I will take his legacy forward,” said Khan, adding that his father supported several charities.
Perhaps it’s this quality that made the Delhi-born, UK-educated star the ideal ambassador for Swiss luxury watch brand Jaeger-LeCoultre. Friday at the Abu Dhabi Film Festival, Jaeger-LeCoultre will decorate Khan with the inaugural Glory To The Actor Award in a nod to his sizeable contribution to Bollywood. But when you ask the recipient whether it was his pedigree that won him this account, he demurs. Khan believes it was a healthy mix of Bollywood and blue blood.
“I think it’s hard to differentiate one from the other. If it’s just my family background, I don’t think they [Jaeger-LeCoultre] would have ever heard of me. The fact that I am an actor in Indian films has advertised my name and made it known to the world. My job and my profession is obviously something that I am proud of. I am equally proud of my family background. I think one complements the other in a way. It’s hard for me to separate the two.”
The 41-year-old, who made his debut in the family drama Parampara in 1992, found Bollywood the best leveller. Film folklore has it that showbiz did not mete out the royal treatment to Khan — whose mother is legendary actress Sharmila Tagore — as he struggled to gain a place in the highly competitive industry. In the early ’90s, he was panned for his effeminate voice and was mostly a part of ensemble films such as Yeh Dillagi and Main Khiladi Tu Anari, which had far more established stars leading the projects.
Cinematic coups
But the 2001 box office hit Dil Chahta Hai — a coming-of-age film about three friends — put him firmly on the Bollywood map. In recent years, he has topped up his account with several cinematic coups. Be it playing the jealous Langda Tyagi in Omkara, Bollywood’s answer to Othello, the commitment-phobe Jai Vardhan Singh in Love Aaj Kal or cold-blooded murderer Karan in Ek Hasina Thi, Khan has aced the acting game.
“It’s been 19 years and I am very happy that I found something that I love and it’s wonderful to be loved so much in return. I feel I am better at [acting] now than I was before. But, I have a strong feeling that the coming months will be my best phase in my career, starting with Agent Vinod.”
The highly anticipated spy-thriller is the next film from his production house Illuminati Films, which he started in 2009 with the blockbuster Love Aaj Kal. Khan plays the title role along with Kareena Kapoor, his longtime girlfriend. Shot on a massive scale, his magnum opus has been in the works for the last two years.
“Agent Vinod, as my director Sriram Raghavan puts it, is a little bit Bond and a little bit Tin-Tin. It’s ultimately an action adventure. This guy is not a copy of James [Bond] or Jason [Bourne]. I am amazed that Sriram has come up with an original character, because it’s so easy to ape a Western spy considering the number of Hollywood films that have been made in that genre.”
Though the plot is intriguing to industry insiders and Bollywood buffs, it’s the on-screen pairing with Kapoor that’s grabbing headlines. The divorced father-of-two began dating the Bollywood A-lister in 2007 and has been attempting to stoke some on-screen chemistry with thrillers like the terrorism drama Kurbaan.
Though it didn’t ring any bells at the box-office, the Saifeena (the tabloid title bestowed on the power couple) chemistry in the film was much applauded. And as expected, the impending marriage plans of this dynamic-duo are debated, scrutinised and analysed to great lengths. Khan is a tad irked by it all.
“At the right time next year, we can comment on our future plans,” said Khan, adding that working together on Agent Vinod would naturally put the spotlight on their personal lives.
“People generally tend to be more interested in our personal life than our professional lives. And that one question in a long-drawn interview ends up grabbing headlines. It negates everything you are trying to put across or talk about. While I understand it, I hope people also realise that I respect my relationship tremendously. Therefore, I try and avoid answering certain questions. There’s so much more going on.”
Dutiful son
The rough cut of Agent Vinod has already been submitted to the Berlin Film Festival programmers. Khan is convinced that it will make the cut.
“Agent Vinod is a very special film. And I know it has been stretched over two years, which could have been avoided, but it’s got some superb action sequences. Though it’s a bit premature to speak about it, I have a good feeling about it,” said Khan.
He will be flying straight to London after the Jaeger-LeCoultre awards ceremony in the capital on Friday, to shoot the last leg of his epic. Apart from Agent Vinod, which is tipped to release in February, he’s also planning a zombie comedy (yet to be titled), plus Cocktail, a romantic comedy with Deepika Padukone.
Surprisingly, his professional commitments have not forced him to turn his back on his personal life. Khan was on his way back to Mumbai after visiting his mother Tagore in Delhi when tabloid! caught up with him over the phone on Tuesday. As he put it, it’s all about striking a fine balance.
“When your father is alive, you can afford to be a bit negligent, even careless. But after he’s gone, I have to take care of my mother and my sisters as well.”
Saif on…
His watch collection: “I love watches. In fact, I collect them and I have a fair amount of them. But I have only limited myself to buying one watch a year and I look forward to it. Also, Jaeger-LeCoultre have very kindly given me a personalised edition of Jaeger-LeCoultre’s Reverso Grand Taille with the Pataudi family crest engraved on the reverse of the case.”
On the term Bollywood: “I am not massively proud of the name. I know, I am nobody to complain. But it really doesn’t do much for our international image. There are certain people who make very corny movies and have notorious dealings with people. They generally colour the reputation of everybody. But the people I have worked with are well-organised and in touch with the world cinema.”
On marketing blitzkrieg that has become the Bollywood norm, such as the RA.One promotions headed by Shah Rukh Khan or Aamir Khan for his rural drama Peepli Live: “Aamir [Khan] has the best cinematic mind in the business. He’s an inspiration and I would love to follow some of his clever strategies for Agent Vinod.”

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Extract from an interview with Prakash Jha..

Q: You often repeat your actors, so why is Ajay Devgan not cast in this film and Saif is playing a Dalit ?

A: It is not always possible to work with the same talent. I would have loved to work with Ajay but when we set up the film, he wasn’t available. But, quite honestly, it was more exciting working with Saif who plays a Dalit. He really got into the skin of the character, but more interestingly, casting him was to move away from the stereotypical representation of Dalits as dark – caste has nothing to do with skin colour. He has done a fabulous job. What is remarkable about his character in Aarakshan is that he has no crutch unlike Langda Tyagi in Omkara where there was make-up and the body language to support him.

Q : Would it be accurate to say that you have moved on from actors to stars for essaying roles in your films?

A : When you add stars, a realistic, hard-hitting story becomes more exciting. I made a film with a non-star cast but the economics of the business did not support it.

Q: Women in your films on the other hand, exist on the periphery, seldom having an equity in the balance of power…

A: That’s not entirely true. Deepika and Tanvi Azmi are very central to Aarakshan. In Mrityudand, too, the women characters took the lead.

Q : And what of the male protagonists in Aarakshan?

A: The story is about the journey of Mr Bachchan and Saif. It is like a father-son relationship that breaks because of principles, expectations and misunderstanding. It is a very personal journey. Raajneeti, on the other hand, was an extensive kaleidoscope –– each with their own journey.

Q : What is it like to work with so many actors and across different generations in both Raajneeti and Aarakshan?

I have always worked with actors, months in advance, so we know each other’s expectations well. And it helps that all of them are as hungry–– Saif, Deepika, Mr Bachchan and Prateik –– and to challenge them, to motivate them was exciting.

For Saif Ali Khan and Prateik, the young stars of Prakash Jha’s Aarakshan that releases on August 12, sharing screen space with Amitabh Bachchan was “special”. The screen legend has starred with the actors’ mothers in the ’70s and ’80s respectively.

Says Bachchan, “Saif and Prateik are both fine talents and I felt a special bond with them, having worked with their mothers in the earlier part of my career.”

A tongue-tied Prateik barely manages to say, “Mr Bachchan is the most socially relevant actor we have.” Saif agrees and adds, “I am a fan of Mr Bachchan – not only of his acting but the way he speaks and dresses. This is what a leading man should be. There is a lot you can learn from just by looking at him.”

Prateik adds that the Big B’s professionalism is terrific. “His genius is related to hard work as well, which is a reassuring thing. For us, the younger lot, it would imply that if we work hard, we too can achieve our goals. Acting is not just something you roll out of bed and do. After watching someone like Mr Bachchan, I feel you need to work harder. I have seen Amitji learning and rehearsing his lines over and over again. His concentration and application is something we must all pick up.”

Saif continues, “Mr Bachchan and I have worked together in Eklavya and now Aarakshan, but I still find the whole experience of working with him surreal. I find myself wandering off mentally when I think, ‘Oh! This is the leading man of Sholay and Muqaddar Ka Sikandar. Not to forget, mum’s leading man too in some movies.’ I get completely freaked out when these thoughts cross my mind.”

For Saif Ali Khan and Prateik, the young stars of Prakash Jha’s Aarakshan that releases on August 12, sharing screen space with Amitabh Bachchan was “special”. The screen legend has starred with the actors’ mothers in the ’70s and ’80s respectively.

Says Bachchan, “Saif and Prateik are both fine talents and I felt a special bond with them, having worked with their mothers in the earlier part of my career.”

A tongue-tied Prateik barely manages to say, “Mr Bachchan is the most socially relevant actor we have.” Saif agrees and adds, “I am a fan of Mr Bachchan – not only of his acting but the way he speaks and dresses. This is what a leading man should be. There is a lot you can learn from just by looking at him.”

Prateik adds that the Big B’s professionalism is terrific. “His genius is related to hard work as well, which is a reassuring thing. For us, the younger lot, it would imply that if we work hard, we too can achieve our goals. Acting is not just something you roll out of bed and do. After watching someone like Mr Bachchan, I feel you need to work harder. I have seen Amitji learning and rehearsing his lines over and over again. His concentration and application is something we must all pick up.”

Saif continues, “Mr Bachchan and I have worked together in Eklavya and now Aarakshan, but I still find the whole experience of working with him surreal. I find myself wandering off mentally when I think, ‘Oh! This is the leading man of Sholay and Muqaddar Ka Sikandar. Not to forget, mum’s leading man too in some movies.’ I get completely freaked out when these thoughts cross my mind.”

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Prakash Jha’s ” Aarakshan” has been issued a U/A certificate without a single cut by the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC), according to megastar Amitabh Bachchan, who plays a pivotal role in the film.

“…the news on ‘Aarakshan’ is that it was shown to the censors today and they have unanimously given it a U/A certificate without a single cut. And apparently they got in the largest panel of members to see it, including various dignitaries and representatives from those committees and commissions that represent areas that were feared could be controversial!” Amitabh posted on his blog bigb.bigadda.com Monday night.

“That is quite an accomplishment I should say by the director and his film, considering that there was a great deal of talk on the possibilities of it becoming so!” he added.

Last week, representatives of the National Commission for Scheduled Castes (NSCS) demanded a special preview of the film about caste-based reservations in the educational system prior to its release Aug 12.

But Jha had denied it, saying that he would show the film only to the censor board and that it was their prerogative to show it to any other authorities.

Sharing an insight into the subject of the movie, the 69-year-old veteran posted: “‘Aaraksha’ (is) a film on the reservation policy of the country where the issue of securing placements in education and jobs with the intent of providing provision for the under privileged and the poor and for those that get affected because of their caste.”

“A film that looks deep into the commercialization of the educational system, of capitation and equal opportunities, of coaching institutes for those that are affluent, of luring the best teachers to them to secure good merit …at a fee of course! A bold and intense look within, not taking any sides, but working along with them to a level of awareness and possible solution…,” he wrote.

The movie also features Saif Ali Khan, Deepika Padukone, Manoj Bajpayee and Prateik Babbar.