The irony in Bollywood is loud and clear. While films with women in strong and powerful portrayals are gaining success at the box office, a slew of women in the industry are coming up with accounts of facing sexual harassment in the industry. Actor-producer Saif Ali Khan says fraternity members should make sure that the place is safe for women to work.
"Some ridiculous and inhuman things have happened in the past few years and I know that new talents might fear to step into the industry after knowing those stories of victims. But as member of the fraternity, we have to make sure that women are treated with the utmost dignity and there is no abuse of power," Saif told IANS in an interview here.
He will soon be seen in the film "Baazaar", in which he essays a ruthless money-minded man.
Asked if his approach towards life and money is similar to the character he plays in the film, Saif said: "In a way, yes and no. My character in the movie wants money to protect his family and I as an individual believe that money is important to protect my family and to have a good life.
"But I do not think like him. He thinks that 'Money is God', and only money cannot give you happiness. That apart, there are differences between me and my character... I am a much more soft-spoken person."
Sharing what keeps him satisfied and passionate about life, the actor said: "I like my creative job as an actor. Playing a part in a good film, building a character from the scratch for a story to perform... Such an opportunity is rare and a blessing."
According to Saif, more than running after success, a life lived well with friends and family is important for him.
"I like small things in life -- like reading a good book in the evening while sipping the best whiskey and eating some good Chinese food. After a long working schedule, I want to spend time with my best friends and family for dinner and a small trip. Money cannot give the bonding and affection I share with my family," the 48-year-old said with a smile.
Coming back to "Baazaar", Saif sports grey hair in it.
Asked if looking the character is the new vanity for the protagonist of a Bollywood film, Saif said: "Why not look older than your age? Of course I want to bend the idea of how the lead actor should look. I think our audience is ready to receive the change that breaks the stereotype."
Having started his career in 1993, Saif has acted in films like "Main Khiladi Tu Anari", "Hum Saath-Saath Hain", "Dil Chahta Hai", "Parineeta", "Kal Ho Naa Ho", "Omkara" and "Race". He says over the years his approach towards his craft has changed.
"I'm reading books on acting too. Most of the time, I get it instinctively, but at times when I am stuck somewhere, the theory really helps to improve my craft. In 'Baazaar', I can see that my experience and understanding of craft is coming together as a performer.
"A good film director will direct his actor to the right direction but generally speaking, they cannot teach me how to act. They can give me some idea to execute my performance. I should know how to act. Having said that, I want to mention that discussing things with experienced people helped me to learn a lot about my craft," he said.
As the son of iconic actress Sharmila Tagore, the learning started from home itself for Saif.
"Ammi taught me to treat the camera like an observant woman who captures every single move very carefully. So as an actor, I do not have to go over-the-top all the time... My subtleness came from that. Mahesh Bhatt told me to keep it simple when in doubt. Sooraj Barjatya advised to let the background music do the work if I am confused as a performer.
"Vikram (Vikramaditya Motwane) made me understand the energy of the character first as it would set the tone of my performance right."
Just then, his son Taimur Ali Khan entered the room, grabbing everyone's attention.
Addressing the little one as 'Tam', in no time the award-winning actor slipped into the role of an affectionate father when he said: "You see, the most famous man of my family has arrived. I am taking him to swim."