‘Siddharth Anand has really grown with Ta Ra Rum Pum’ – Saif Ali Khan

Staging the wicked Langda Tyagi character in Omkara saw Saif Ali Khan walk away with all awards in the best villain category. Now after playing the foreign returned prince in this year released – Eklavya, Khan is playing husband-father-car racer-winner-loser-victor in his forthcoming film Ta Ra Rum Pum.

While such a multi-faceted character may be a first time experience for Khan, this film marks his second association with director Siddharth Anand (Salaam Namaste), Rani Mukherji (Hum Tum) and Vishal Shekhar (Salaam Namaste).

In this interview, Khan shares his experiences…


Tell us something about your forthcoming film Ta Ra Rum Pum.
Ta Ra Rum Pum is a very personal story about a rise and a fall and the rise after that. It is every man’s story, every family’s story; it is about how you deal with tough times. I believe films are about treatments. The simpler the story the better it is, it should not be very complicated.  

Ta Ra Rum Pum is about redemption, how in life often what happens when you are down. If you can make that beautiful and see the beauty in being poor or unhappy, not having all the material things, that’s life! But if you have the right people around you and you can laugh and enjoy that phase then you are a winner and that’s what our film is all about.

It is dressed up as a very contemporary love story and has got everything that the genre requires, from action to comedy, a modern romance and a modern family which send out the right messages in the film. The film has adult and fairly serious themes tackled in a way that the entire family can watch and deal with, so I think in that sense it’s also a very responsible movie and these are the kinds of films that define the culture of our country.

In the film you play a car racer. How was you experience enacting that role? Did you undergo any special training for the same?
Well, it was extremely tough sitting in the car because there are no doors and once you are locked in there, it’s extremely hot and humid and it was hard for me to breathe in there. Luckily there was a driver next to me in the other car and I looked at him and told him it was hard for me to breathe. He told me that ‘you got to want to do this’, he was talking about the passion and the drive.

It might sound a bit filmy but that’s when I realized I wanted to do it and I stopped feeling claustrophobic, which I normally don’t feel. But in such a case when the car starts heating up there is a lot of carbon monoxide that gets thrown into the engine and the car heats up – its like a metal coffin.  Sometimes there is no air and there is black smoke coming on to your face because the engine is open and the kind of force that you have on your head when you are speeding at 150 miles in an hour. I’ve never driven that fast ever, it’s almost crushing. It’s quite an intense thing, but as usual there was no training involved but it was a lot of fun.

What is more interesting to play, a metro sexual chef in Salaam Namaste or a car racer in Ta Ra Rum Pum?
I hate the word metrosexual. I can play the Salaam Namaste part because it is very much like me, it is quite close to my nature. They are actually both very similar character spaces.

If you meet Nascar drivers its not like they are all Clint Eastwood. They all seem like regular guys with boring haircuts and moustaches, they don’t look like daredevils at all but they actually are.

Even the racer in Ta Ra Rum Pum is just a talent, he has to drive fast but he’s interested in the bigger things that happen to him in his life. He is interested in what is going on with his family and kids. Racing is just a passion of his that he enjoys doing. It is definitely a sub plot in the film and an important part of it, but it is not what the film is about. So they are both actually similar characters, but yes, we have this driving theme in the film and I play a larger than life role.

The guy in Salaam Namaste is a hero for different reasons, as he overcomes his own fears and that’s what a hero does. You can not say one is bigger than the other. To get over your fear of commitment and say you will marry a woman is bigger than getting over your fear of fast cars and being able to go through the smoke, they are as frightening as each other. They are just different metaphors for conquering your own fear.

How was you experience working with Rani second time round after Hum Tum?
I think chemistry has got nothing to do with either your intentions or how you feel. There are many real life lovers who don’t have chemistry on screen, there are people who don’t even know each other, yet set the screen on fire.

I agree I have great screen chemistry with Rani. In fact I was watching Hum Tum the other day and I just think it’s a magical movie in parts. I think Rani is a phenomenal actor and she brings something really special to the screen for which I respect her a lot. It is competitive for me to be working with her because I actually want to be better than her because she is so very good and that makes it a healthy working relationship.  

This is also the second time you are working with director Siddharth Anand…
I came across Siddharth in Hum Tum and I have seen him interact with Aditya Chopra. I have seen how these films are developed. There are just conversations between childlike creators, when I say childlike I don’t mean young, I mean pure and innocent people sitting around and the way they talk about making movies whether it’s conception, development or execution. Siddharth has really grown with Ta Ra Rum Pum.

Compared to Salaam Namaste, Ta Ra Rum Pum is a much bigger movie thematically and also in terms of budget. I think he has really come of age in this film as it has been bigger and more difficult film to handle and he seems to have done it calmly. I always think action movies are really a test of a director. But this is a family saga and at the core of it, it is a rise and fall and rise again classic big film with an action surplus. It is not easy to direct, it is a big undertaking and I think he’s pulled it off.

After Salaam Namaste this is also your second time with music director duo Vishal and Shekhar. What do you think about the music of Ta Ra Rum Pum?
Vishal and Shekar have tried to incorporate different kinds of musical influences, in each song. I actually prefer the music of Ta Ra Rum Pum to the last time we worked together in Salaam Namaste.

My favourite tracks are Ab To Forever, Hey Shona, and Saiyyan Re. I think it’s great what Vishal and Shekhar do. I think we have a tremendous musical culture and a wide range in the country. We should continue to push the envelope in terms of using world influence and mixing and doing fusion. As we have got the singers and the musicians we just need a little more imagination when it comes to putting the actual song together.

This is the first time you have worked with children in a film. How was the experience of working with them?
It is said it can be quite scary working with kids, but they were more professional than most actors I have worked with and are very efficient. They got it right the first time and they were committed. One day I wanted to bunk shooting because I had fever and even this kid Ali was ill that day. But Ali kept shooting the whole day and I was waiting for him to go home so that I could go home… and then Siddharth told me how could I go home while this little kid is still shooting and that was a lesson to me.

I enjoyed working through my illness and I felt like I had given something and achieved something special. In the rain, wind and in the cold we shot with the three of us and it was fun. To top it all they were really good actors and they gave a lot of purity and spirituality to the whole project. They give a wonderful atmosphere to the film.

What do you feel about merchandising for a film like Ta Ra Rum Pum?
Films are huge in our culture and country and children are a massive audience. My son Ibrahim wanted to buy a Krrish doll because he thinks Krrish is cool. I think merchandising is cool. Atleast with Hollywood we wanted to buy pencil boxes, Spiderman and Batman character pencils so why not for our movies?

But in order for merchandising to make sense, the films must create that kind of an icon, so it all starts with the movie.