No IPL, I'm not a billionaire: Saif Ali Khan

By Robin Bansal

New Delhi, Jan 20 (IANS) Some of his Bollywood peers own one. But Saif Ali Khan says he has moved on from his dream of owning an Indian Premier League (IPL) team since he's "not a billionaire" and wants to focus on acting and production instead.

"We were at one point considering getting involved (in IPL), but now I think it's quite a blessing in disguise that we didn't, you know. It was far too expensive," Saif told IANS in a casual chat in his hotel room in the capital.

Shah Rukh Khan owns an IPL team, so do Shilpa Shetty and Preity Zinta. But Saif has stayed away.

"When other people got involved, it was a more reasonable idea than when we were going to get involved. You see, I am not a billionaire. Compared to three or four years ago, last year was not something that was working for us in that way," says Saif.

"And now I feel it's all for the best because I'd like to concentrate on films and film production rather than divert my time and give so much and not be sure I'm getting back 100 percent. It'll take a long time to make something like that work," he added, sipping water out of a wine glass.

His association with cricket, however, goes a long way. After all, he is the son of Mansoor Ali Khan Pataudi, former cricketer and erstwhile royal.

The actor has also been rubbing shoulders with current skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni in commercials for Lay's chips. Now there's an all new Lay's Flavour World Cup 2011 campaign and Saif was here to unveil the same, as its endorser.

So is he planning to catch any match live during the upcoming ICC World Cup starting Feb 19?

"Oh! I'd love to go and watch it live. Can you get me a ticket?" the 40-year-old asked childishly before confessing he really wants to watch a match between "India and Australia" live during the tournament.

Sporting a trimmed Zappa moustache minus the goatee, which is his new look for Prakash Jha's "Aarakshan", the actor was visibly jet lagged after the completion of his new year vacation in Gstaad, Switzerland, with beloved Kareena Kapoor.

Asked how he was taking his graduation from actor to producer, Saif said: "It seems like a natural way to go after years of working for other people.

"We've learned a lot from other production houses like Yash Raj (Films) and Dharma (Productions). I'm really grateful to them. Now it's time to do things on your own," added the actor who successfully produced "Love Aaj Kal" (2009) and is currently providing support for his spy thriller "Agent Vinod" under his banner Illuminati Films.

Any particular scripts that Saif the producer is looking at?

"I think all sorts of...the same kind I'd look at as an actor. Anything from a weird kind of offbeat film to 'Agent Vinod'," he said visibly engrossed in the trailer of Aamir Khan's "Dhobi Ghat" on a giant screen hung in his room.

But will he star in all his productions?

"Not necessarily at all, but probably initially. That's the whole idea. If we make more than one movie a year then I'd like to work with other people also and the same goes for my production people," he said, stretching himself on a chair.

Asked if he was looking at rolling out a particular number in a year, Saif responded: "No. Nothing like that. I'd imagine that would be pretty dangerous. Ideally, we should be making two films a year with various budgets from big to small."

Saif's other future projects include "Race 2" and another home production "Cocktail", a love triangle to be directed by Homi Adajania.

(Robin Bansal can be contacted at robin.b@ians.in)

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