'Being Cyrus' is quirky, dark, indefinable cinema: Saif ...

By Subhash K. Jha, Indo-Asian News Service

imageMumbai, March 25 (IANS) For

Saif Ali Khan, his forthcoming film "Being Cyrus" is different in many ways. For the first time, he is working in an offbeat

project. Unlike his other films, this one is in English, a language he is more comfortable with.

"See, even if it's Hindi, I still learn quickly. But obviously English, which I speak in real life, requires a body

language that I understand.

"Fortunately, Homi (Adajania) didn't want me to speak accented Parsi English. I spoke it my own way, maybe with a little

exaggerated desi accent," Saif told IANS in an interview while explaining his comfort level with the language.

In terms of money, "Being Cyrus" was not a profitable venture but Saif did it for the creative satisfaction. However, he

doesn't deny that money does play an important role in the selection of films.

Saif warns his fans not to have very high expectations from him in the film because "Being Cyrus" is not a regular

movie.

"I must warn people that 'Being Cyrus' is not my regular kind of movie. I have done what I was expected to. If they expect

me to do comedy and sing songs like in 'Salaam Namaste' or 'Hum Tum' then they'd be disappointed. I'll be seen without my

shirt, though."

Excerpts:

Q: You have a very unusual release coming up?

A: I loved "Being Cyrus". Speaking honestly... whether it's Vishal Bharadwaj's "Omkara" or Homi Adajania's "Being Cyrus",

I feel I have gone to a different level as an actor. I may be a little unsure at the beginning of a project. But

instinctively I think I am getting it right.

"Being Cyrus" is my first English-language film. It's a different kind of cinema. It's a quality film. It should be

evaluated in its own space. It's a quirky, dark indefinable cinema. I am quite proud of it.

Q: People are interested in the film primarily because you are in it?

A: That sounds like a huge burden to carry around. I must warn people "Being Cyrus" not my regular kind of movie. I have

done what I was expected to. If they expect me to do comedy and sing songs like in "Salaam Namaste" or "Hum Tum" then they'd

be disappointed. I'll be seen without my shirt, though, ha ha.

It's a bit of a thriller. I say 'bit', because it only took twenty of my shooting days. It's a good little story. And

cinematographer Jehangir Chowdhary has shot it amazingly.

Q: Did it allow you to stretch yourself as an actor?

A: It did, actually. Homi was very insistent on me not being at all posed or filmy.

Q: Homi is also a scuba driver.

A: He's a lot of things. He wants to show a lot on his CV, I think. I thought he'd be a laidback rugby-playing,

beer-drinking kind of guy. But I was quite surprised by his dedication and sincerity as a director.

Q: Did you hit it off instantly?

A: No. Initially he used to irk me somehow, giving instructions like, 'Don't stand like some Bollywood star'. I finally

told him this film would get released only in Mumbai gym. That's when the ice broke. We laughed and laughed together.

Homi gave me back something that I had lost. He gave me back my sense of humour. We laughed the way only men do at some

jokes. I had a blast with him. I remember I once bent down near him because I had dropped my cigarette. He quipped, 'My God,

you aren't touching my feet, are you?' Homi is like that.

Q: Did this film come at a time when you were grappling for the correct grammar of expression?

A: Not really! I remember I was sitting at Nataraj Studio when Homi came to narrate the script. At that time my first

thought was, it would be fun to do a film in a language in which I think. At the same time I also wanted to be part of "Being

Cyrus" because it sounded like an interesting and brave effort. I realised there was no money in it.

Q: Is money a decisive factor for selection?

A: It is certainly one of the factors. Why not? I have seen enough actors trying to live on commitment. It doesn't work.

Often actors waste their time doing films that have no impact. There was no money in "Being Cyrus". But I was impressed by

the production.

I think today after doing films like "Being Cyrus" and "Omkara" I'd do movies just because I felt they are right. These

films allow you to call yourself an actor.

Q: About doing a film in a language that you think in...

A: See even if it's Hindi I still learn quickly. But obviously English, which I speak in real life, requires a body

language that I understand. Fortunately, Homi didn't want me to speak accented Parsi English. I spoke it my own way, maybe

with a little exaggerated desi accent.

Q: "Being Cyrus" takes Indian cinema away from the formula.

A: Yes, it's an entirely new idiom of expression. Because of the multiplexes, directors have more of an opportunity to do

things like "Being Cyrus". There are lots of fine actors around who don't get seen enough, for example Konkona Sen, (Sharma)

whom I am working with in "Omkara". She's fantastic. It's great if actors work in films they believe in and get seen by

enough people.

Q: It is your first off-mainstream film.

A: Yeah yeah.... I have been offered quite a lot of offbeat films. I know in three minutes if I want to do a film or not.

Some of these directors keep asking me even after I say no.

The reputation of being indecisive about selecting roles is a good thing if it keeps away those whom I have said no to.

But it doesn't.

Q: Now you have the guts to do the unconventional.

A: I think "Omkara" and "Being Cyrus" are as different from each other as they are different from conventional cinema.

Even "Salaam Namaste" wasn't conventional, though it was mainstream because it was a Yash Raj production.

Q: In the film you get to share screen space with some very accomplished actors.

A: That was one of the things that attracted me to this project. Boman Irani is a Parsi. I have always got along well with

Boman. In fact, I started doing a different kind of acting in an unusual cinema when I did "Darna Manaa Hai" with Boman. We

were left to our devices. We enjoyed that piece together.

During "Being Cyrus" Homi made up these stories about what Boman had to say about me behind my back. I didn't speak to

Boman for a whole day. Finally Homi owned up he was just kidding. That's Homi for you.

Q: You share quite a relationship with the gorgeous Dimple Kapadia in it.

A: Yes. She plays this ambitious woman who's married to a loser. She's sexually attracted to a man who comes to work in

their home. In an American movie it'd be no big deal.

Q: But in an Indian film?

A: "Being Cyrus" isn't an Indian film. It's a Parsi film, ha, ha! Just joking.