Saif one of his kind
Yes... No... Maybe! Saif seems the most unsure guy in Bollywood.
By Subhash K Jha, IANS
The other day, I was speaking to a leading avant-garde director who's very keen to sign Saif for an author-backed role (there are so many of those around).
But after the sunshine there's the inevitable cloudy temperature.
"Though I think Saif is the perfect fit in my script, I've heard he's difficult. Is he? I'd think so because after our initial conversation I've never been able to get him on the phone," complains the disgruntled director.
Not surprising, since Saif's mobile telephone is hardly ever on. When it is, his assistant answers the calls and parrots off the "Saab-yahan-nahin-hain" (Sir is not here) mantra to everyone from Steven Spielberg to Aparna Sen.
Not that Spielberg has called him as yet. But going by the rate at which Saif's growing, he just might.
There's a growing belief in Bollywood that Saif is one of his kind. Earlier he was considered the superstar among supporting actors. Ram Gopal Varma's "Ek Hasina Thi" and now Yashraj Films' "Hum Tum" has changed that theory.
Now suddenly Saif is seen as an eminently saleable solo hero, thanks to the shocking success of the boy-meets-girl story no one believed in.
In fact many people at Yash Chopra's production company are still pinching themselves in disbelief. Apart from the Chopra scion Aditya, no one believed in director Kunal Kohli's ability to deliver the goods.
And why should they have, when Kohli gave the Chopras the pricey dud "Mujhse Dosti Karoge" just two years ago.
When Kohli's "Hum Tum" script came up for scrutiny, most people within Yashraj Films thought it was poor. Only Aditya Chopra stuck by his friend.
And now if Kohli looks as snug as a bug in the rug, then it's with reason.
His film is the biggest hit of the year after Farah Khan's "Main Hoon Na" and that doesn't count; because every Shah Rukh Khan film does well, to one degree or another.
But this other Khan has just come out of the blue! Who would've thought he could carry a solo starrer on his shoulders?
It's said that during a long outdoor of "Hum Tum", Saif took his own sweet time to get ready for shooting every morning. It's also said that he's too much of a "chote nawab" to be in the movies.
That entire backlash will just have to button up now.
Saif after "Hum Tum" is a different prospect altogether. If he had decided to be choosy earlier on, he's now going to be extra-choosy. One of the projects he's agreed to do is Rohan Sippy's comedy with Abhishek playing the other lead.
Here, there's an in-built danger of Saif becoming insecure on the sets. Whenever he has said yes to a two-hero film he has suffered anxiety pangs subsequently.
During Arjun Sablok's "Na Tum Jano Na Hum", he was forever looking anxiously at what Hrithik Roshan was doing. In the process, Saif's performance suffered.
The best thing to have happened to Saif is solo stardom. He can now be secure in his space without feeling invaded upon by any other star.
Because all said and done he's one of a kind; irreplaceable and certainly saleable to the extreme.
With his sister Soha also ready to take the leap into the acting arena, Saif needs to go further than where "Hum Tum" has taken him. It hasn't really propelled him very far from what he has been doing in all his films since "Dil Chahta Hai".
With solo success, he needs to move to another level. Find a better actor within himself than the one who tells his doppelganger in the potato-chips ad, "Bet you just can't have one?"
Saif can have as many as he likes, provided he gets more decisive about the offers.