Saif Ali Khan is the eldest child of Sharmila Tagore, a glamorous actress of the 1960s and now head of the Film Censor Board, and former Indian
cricket captain Mansoor Ali Pataudi. Saif studied in England, first at Lockers Park School and then Winchester College where he majored in English literature and art history. He is a keen reader, devouring anything from nineteenth century English authors like Jane Austen and the Brontë sisters to Ayn Rand. He has recently become interested in writings on African safaris and hunting stories of the 1920s. He loves to play the guitar and even hoped to be a rock star when he was younger, before acting consumed his life. His passion for music and dance shines through his performances at stage shows and on camera.
Saif had a steady career in Bollywood during the 1990s, then in 2001 Dil Chahta Hai became a huge success and turned his life around overnight. His character, Sameer, was one that audiences could relate to and really warm to. Sameer is a guy in love with the idea of love, who wears his heart on his sleeve, and Saif portrayed him with such intelligence and warmth that he outshone the rest of the cast. His next films got better and built on his success. Kal Ho Naa Ho (2003), Hum Turn (2004), for which he won the National Award for Best Actor, and then his piece de resistance, Parineeta (2005), in which he positively glowed. More recently his English film, Being Cyrus (2005), was critically praised and garnered rave reviews.
In the early days of his career, his close resemblance to his mother was a disadvantage for him. His features were considered to be too feminine by traditional Bollywood standards. Over the years he has developed a strict exercise regime and has built his body to a toned yet lithe level, that has helped him overcome that mental barrier. Today he looks a personification of the cool, well-heeled cosmopolitan Indian. His acting proficiency enables him to take on a diverse range of roles. The best directors are vying to work with him from mainstream cinema as well as alternative art house. Two of his new films are being directed by Vishal Bharadwaj: Omkara (2006), an adaptation of Shakespeare’s Othello, and Mr Mehta and Mrs Singh (2006) with Kareena Kapoor. It’s a good time to be Saif Khan in Bollywood.