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I'd write more, like you said I should. If only, there was more to me.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007


"How are you going to grill me - rare, medium, well done?" he asks me.
"How would you like to be grilled?" I fire back.
"Man, never ask a journalist a question."

Yes, I know it. This interview is going to be lots of fun, never mind the dark glasses that Zayed refuses to take off during the interview.

"Long flight," he explains.

Sure, thing we'll leave it at that. After all, Zayed Khan would easily rank as the most non-starry Bollywood insider. Being Sanjay Khan's son meant he grew up surrounded by lights, cameras and lots of action, but movies wouldn't have figured on his agenda, if his Dad had his way. He was meant to get a degree in Business, but finance soon lost its allure. Zayed turned to study film-making, then acting and the rest as they say has turned out be something straight out of the movies.

Q : Zayed, you hail from one of the first families of Indian film. What was it like when you were growing up? You actually ended up studying business administration, didn’t you?
A :
Yes, but that was only because my Dad wanted me to and he pestered me to go in for it. He thought I was a really good negotiator because I would always crack deals with him over the dining table so he wanted me to be a lawyer and pushed me to be this kind of guy who is very chic, suited, booted and could recite the entire Constitution. But deep down, I wasn’t like that at all. I was a very playful person. As a kid growing up, I was more interested in the birds and the bees outside. I was the kind of person who liked to express himself. Whether it was dressing up like Superman and trying to fly from the roof terrace or whether it was playing mock kiddie roles in our home-made movies. As children one of our favourite playtime activities used to be ‘let’s make a movie together.’ Of course, my sister would be the Director, another one would be the Editor, another one the Producer, they’d pick the meatiest roles and then they’d go:
"Zayed, you are the spot boy."

Every time, I’d try and ask "why am I always the spot boy?"

They just bullied me silly. I’d get the odd jobs, be the gaffer, be the side kick, be the spot boy which often depleted my moral spirit to become an actor. Though I always tell them now that "you guys made me an actor by condemning me all the time, by giving me all those odd things to do while we were all making our short home videos." But it was fun growing up.

Deep down, I knew I was going to be an actor since I was 10 years old. I was born in the cradle of the industry, I had people coming in and out for dinner. At that time, when Dad was the star, being on a set was the most glamorous thing. There was nothing more entertaining. If one person was shooting, you’d have close to 5,000 people watching you. Today, of course, you don’t have the same kind of adulation. Really I grew up in front of the camera, with people who were constantly being very filmi, so it must have rubbed off somewhere.

Q : And you ended up getting one of your first filmi breaks alongside Shah Rukh Khan. Actors would die for a role like the one you had in ‘Main Hoon Naa.’ You got lots of recognition for it. What was it like considering it came fairly early in your career?
A :
Man, as far I’m considered it was a complete default. I was never meant to be in the film. As fate has it, as destiny has it, I ended up in it. It’s a really interesting story actually. I was in touch with Farah (Khan) and wanted her to choreograph a song in my movie called ‘Chura Liya Hain Tum Nain’, I was in touch with her and I was pestering her. She is really hard to get and I think she only does songs for people she loves. I was not one really one of those at that time. To cut a very long story short, she called me one day and I came into Shah Rukh’s office and I was quite taken aback as to why I was even there. It had nothing to do with my song, or her choreographing my song. The next thing I know she’s offered me this role in ‘Main Hoon Naa.’ And Shah Rukh just tells me:
"Dude, can you act, Hindi bolnein aatein hain naa?" (Do you know how to speak Hindi?)
I responded "Hahn, Hindi bolnein aate hain." (Yes, I can speak Hindi) and I was born to act. It was one of those things that just fell into my lap, you never quite put a finger to it. But it was one of those roles that completely re-defined, that gave me a new birth in the industry, lots of recognition. In fact, I walk around and people call me ‘Lucky’ (his name in the film). They don’t even know what my real name is and that’s quite endearing, quite sweet. And I hope I always do justice to my characters like that so that people forget who you are and remember you by the character you portray.

What followed after Main Hoon Naa was a string of flops. Hear about Zayed's plans to reverse his box office fortunes in part two of this post.

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