By: ASJAD NAZIR
THIS week Saif Ali Khan turns a year older and celebrates his 51st birthday on August 16. The Bollywood actor has been entertaining audiences ever since he made his film debut in 1993 and has since starred in a wide array of genres.
Eastern Eye decided to celebrate the actor turning a year older by listing his top 10 performances, in chronological order.
Dil Chahta Hai (2001): After a forgettable start to his career, which included him rejecting films that became record-breaking successes, the actor got his first global recognition with a winning turn in this iconic coming-of-age drama. The game-changing Bollywood film showed off his comedic flair with an award-winning performance and enabled him to stand out in a strong ensemble cast.
Kal Ho Naa Ho (2003): If Dil Chahta Hai was a turning point for the actor, then this New York-set romance elevated him to the top tier of Bollywood. He has a strong presence in the story of a terminally ill man, played by Shah Rukh Khan, determined to find a suitable match for the woman he loves. Saif is so superb as the friend and suitor that he won Best Supporting Actor trophies at all the major Bollywood award ceremonies.
Hum Tum (2004): The romantic comedy heavily inspired by Hollywood hit When Harry Met Sally sees the actor star opposite Rani Mukerji in the story of two mismatched individuals who meet at different points in their lives. The actor showed off a range of emotions with his performances, which would result in him winning a prestigious National Award for Best Actor.
Salaam Namaste (2005): A film that perhaps doesn’t get the credit it deserves today was a massive global success when it released and tackled taboo subjects head on. Saif stars opposite Preity Zinta in the story of two individuals who have a live-in relationship and remain connected after their break-up, by an unplanned pregnancy. The first Indian movie to be filmed entirely in Australia saw him play a young man who goes on a road to responsibility.
Parineeta (2005): There have been various live action adaptations of Sarat Chandra’s 1914 Bengali novella and this is one of the finest. The actor takes on the lead role of an affluent man whose childhood friendship with a neighbour blossoms into love. The 1962-set Kolkata story saw the actor deliver a classical turn opposite Vidya Balan in the stylishly shot film, which was a critical success and gained him Best Actor nominations.
Omkara (2006): The actor was unrecognisable in the Bollywood adaptation of William Shakespeare classic Othello and arguably delivered the finest performance of his career in a character inspired by literary villain Iago. His role as the scheming Langda Tyagi is a catalyst for the catastrophic events that transpire. Saif transforms every part of himself and was rewarded with a Filmfare Award for Best Performance in a Negative Role.
Love Aaj Kal (2009): The actor produced the musical romance and took on contrasting roles across two different time periods. He plays a modern-day man trying to move on from a mutual break-up and someone from the past who is hopelessly in love. Saif gets to show off two different sides with characters that struck a chord with cross-generational audiences around the world. He would get further Best Actor nominations for his role.
Cocktail (2012): The actor produced and played the lead role in the romantic comedy-drama. He once again delivers a memorable turn as someone carefree who finally becomes responsible after falling in love with someone with an opposite personality, in a movie that weighs up friendship and true love. The convincing performance won the hearts of audiences because of how relatable it was.
Sacred Games (2018-2019): The Netflix adaptation of Vikram Chandra’s 2006 best-selling novel saw the actor make a stunning web debut as lead protagonist Inspector Sartaj Singh who is trying to unravel a mystery and find important answers to a complex case. Saif delivers one of the best performances of his career in the globally successful drama serial and shows real intensity.
Tanhaji: The Unsung Warrior (2020): The massively successful historical drama based on real-life events saw Saif deliver an antagonistic performance that won rave reviews. He showed such power with his award-winning turn and devilish role in the big-budget film that it has resurrected his movie career in a big way. That is why we will be seeing a lot more of the actor in more major projects, which look like launching an exciting new phase for him