Before 'Aarakshan' I was against reservations: Saif

Mumbai, May 17 (IANS) Saif Ali Khan found his role of a Dalit in "Aarakshan" most challenging because it didn't come naturally to him and admits that the film has changed his perspective about reservation policies and he now feels they should exist.

"When I got this movie, I was completely against reservations. I felt that things should be done on merit. That was my first thought, but after having done the movie, I realised that there is another side to it, which is that most people in our country are very underprivileged and they have no chance in life," Saif told reporters here.

"It's not like you can get a job without passing the exam. So even if 10-20 percent of the backward classes manage to get an education, it is good. So after doing this film, I have altered my mind on reservations to quite an extent. I think it should exist, but to what extent and what percentage that is debatable," he added.

Set for an August 12 release, director Prakash Jha's "Aarakshan" is a high voltage drama centering on caste-based reservations in government jobs and educational institutions. The film also stars Amitabh Bachchan, Deepika Padukone, Manoj Bajpayee and Prateik Babbar.

Saif played a rustic guy in "Omkara" and a terrorist in "Kurbaan", but found his role of a Dalit in "Aarakshan" the most challenging.

"It was very challenging to get into the character for this film because this is a role where more than acting, it's about looking and feeling the part from inside and having a certain expression in your eyes," said the 40-year-old.

"I talked a lot about it with Prakashji and prepared for it. Prakashji basically said that the character has a Zen-like calm rather than edgy.

"Lot of things helped, like the clothes, the hairstyle, the moustache. These are slightly more external things, but the idea was to learn how to feel the part. It's probably the most challenging role I had to do because it doesn't come at all naturally to me to be that," he added.

Although the actor is quite excited about his role, controversy has already begun to hound the film. Recently Jha got a letter from a group called Dalit Suraksha Samiti, protesting against the portrayal of Saif as a Dalit.

When asked about this, Saif said: "It's become a habit now to raise a voice on things. Sometimes the protests have relevance and a point, but sometimes it is unnecessary. It is difficult to keep everyone happy. It's a wrong thing that without watching the film, an objection has been raised. When they see the film, they will be happy."

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