‘I went to a Muslim builder,' says Saif
21 Aug 2008, 0051 hrs IST, SUBHASH K JHA ,TNN
It's shocking, but true. When Saif Ali Khan thought of buying a new house, he made a conscious decision that he would not approach a Hindu housing society for fear of being rejected. That's a superstar of the country talking.
Our sources in the construction industry say that Saif did approach a few Hindu housing societies and was rejected –- despite being a superstar. Saif, however, says that he went straight to a Muslim builder to buy his dream house. "I know there are localities and building societies that won't sell real estate to anyone who's a Muslim. I went to a Muslim builder to avoid complications."
Saif insists that the problem of communal segregation is very real. "And it's not restricted to building societies in Mumbai, it's there in society in general. It's common knowledge that in certain areas of Juhu and Bandra land and houses are not sold to Muslims. I'm constantly surprised by how much religion matters to some people here. Perceptions of religion are always based on experience or fanaticism. Some elements have spoilt things for the entire community. That's the sad truth about Islam,” says the star who has bought a 4-BHK apartment in La Beau in Bandra.
Saif's dad is a Muslim, and mom a Hindu. "I've been brought up to believe in the oneness of God. In some places He is known as Jesus. In other places He is known as Bhagwan or Allah. And in some places He is known as Shah Rukh Khan."
Reacting to the extremist diktat that none of the Khans must act in Hindi films, Saif says, "I'd rather get shot than not do a shot! I'd have a tough time finding another job. There's nothing I can do apart from acting."
Others who’ve faced the heat
Muslim stars have always had problems while buying houses in certain areas between Andheri and Bandra. Emraan Hashmi, Arbaaz Ali Khan, Zeenat Aman, Sophie Chowdhury and Aamir Ali have been through this grind too.
Sophie Chowdhury house-hunted for over two years.There were times that she almost finalised the deal, but when she revealed her identity, the deal was cancelled.
Arbaaz Ali Khan was refused a house on Perry Cross Road in Bandra. Similarly, Zeenat Aman had to look for a flat for over three months before she could buy a house in Juhu. Ditto Emraan Hashmi. Aamir Ali's hunt for a house took over a year. He even filed a court case over this issue.
All is going on well in Saif Ali's life. Saif has come a long way. Life was not a bed of roses for this talented actor. He had his share of hard work and struggle. And today he is recognized as a fine actor. His solo hero film, Hum Tum, was a hit, and his latest, Pareenita, is doing very well in multiplexes. Professionally, Saif is at the pinnacle of success but on the personal front, the actor is still struggling. Even as he was struggling with his separation from wife Amrita Singh, his father Nawab Pautadi is in trouble with the law over a poaching incident. In this interview Saif talks about his personal problems and future planning.
Excerpts from an interview with SeasonsIndia correspondent Sanyukta.
Tell us something about Parineeta.
At the first instance when I heard the script the character fascinated me. Pradeep wanted to have me in the film though Vidhu was a bit skeptical if I could carry the role on my shoulders. My mother has always wanted me to do a Bengali film. Parineeta is for my mom. I finally got to tap the Bengali side of me.
How do you feel being associated with the film?
I am honoured. It was a great experience. My co-stars in the film very great. Especially Vidya has made the role come back to life. Pradeep as a director is very efficient. He is great and genuine visualizer. He is a perfectionist and has extracted the best from the team. I've learnt a lot from him I the process of the film. I look forward to work with him again.
It is being said that you left Amrita after the success of Hum Tum and for another woman. What do you have to say?
Its really not true. Why is it that my hard earned success is being taken against me? My leaving Amrita (Singh) was not overnight. It was on the cards for a long time, and another woman had nothing to do with it. When it (the separation) happened, it was like a very painful amputation. But it was also the best thing to do, given the circumstances. I'm at peace with Rosa (Saif's girl friend). I don't know what the future holds for us. But I feel whole and healthy.
How bad has the separation hit you?
I had to separate from Amrita because the relationship was over. Staying together was becoming suffocating and hurtful so we decided to split. It was a joint decision. My wife and I have gone our separate ways. I respect my wife's space. But what is more painful that I had to be away from my children. My son is such a chamcha of mine. He even does his hair like me; tries to walk and talk like me! While Sarah (his daughter) understands the situation, Ibrahim (his son) thinks I'm just out for a long shooting schedule. Once, he asked me very loudly in front of a hundred people, when I was coming back. I felt like sinking into the ground. I love my kids and I miss them so very much.
Why is it that you are being blamed for everything and that you are a terrible husband and father?
I don't have any answers for what has happened in my life. All I know is every penny I earn is for my children. I live for them. I'd die for them. I've my son Ibrahim's photograph in my wallet. Each time I look at it, I feel like crying. I'm not allowed to meet my children. They aren't allowed to come visit me, let alone stay with me. Why? Because there's a new woman in my life who'd influence my children against their mother? That's hogwash and Amrita knows it. Right now, my kids are growing up with Amrita's relatives and maidservants while she's out working in a television serial (Ekta Kapoor's Kkavyanjali). Why does she need to do that, when I'm willing to support my family?
What were the terms of the settlement?
I'm supposed to give Amrita Rs 5 crores, of which I've already given her approximately Rs 2.5 crore. I've promised her I'll pay up the rest of the money, even if I've to slog till I drop dead. Also, I'm paying Rs 1,00,000 per month until my son becomes 18. That was the post-breakup financial arrangements. This is actually ripping me off but I am willing to support them. They are my children and they need me. Whatever I've earned from doing ads, stage shows and films is for my children. I've no money. Our bungalow is for Amrita and the kids. Rosa and I stay in a two-room apartment. Still, I've never been more at peace with myself.
Are you happy with Rosa?
After a long time, I feel my self-worth has returned. I was suffocating in that relationship with Amrita. It isn't nice to be constantly reminded of how worthless you are and to have taunts and insults thrown at your mother and sister. There's a theory that whatever I am today is because Amrita took me by my finger and led me through it all. It's probably true. She has played a big hand in my growth as an actor and human being. But it's a blessing to be with a woman who has nothing to do with movies and who loves me for what I am. Rosa has always supported me and stood by me during the tough time. Because of her I I've regained my confidence.
Your Dad is mixed up in the poaching incident. What do you have to say?
As his son, I'm really concerned. If my father has done wrong, then I guess he must be punished. Let the law take its course. I am not in a position to comment on the matter. But I do know we don't want dad to ever see the inside of a jail, and we'd do everything in our power to make sure it doesn't happen. I must say he handled himself with great dignity. Though Amma was hysterical with anxiety, my dad sailed through the ordeal. He just surrendered at the police station in a simple kurta-pyjama. For a man who had never been anywhere near a police station, his calm was exemplary.
Tell us something about Salaam Namaste, your next Yash Raj film.
Well, the film is a romantic comedy. It's about two Indians who have left their houses to make a life on their own, and how they meet and how they tackle their own relationships and problems and overcome them without the help of their families. The film is directed by debutante Siddharth Anand. Preity Zinta is my co-star and the film also stars Arshad Warsi and John Abraham. It's a great film and the audience will love it.