Saif Ali Khan is returning to screens, albeit this time through the first Hindi Netflix Original drama; Sacred Games. The series is based on the critically-acclaimed best-selling novel of the same name by author Vikram Chandra.
The series focuses on Sartaj Singh (Saif Ali Khan), a seasoned and cynical Bombay police officer, summoned by an anonymous tip one morning, a voice which promises him an opportunity to capture the powerful Ganesh Gaitonde (Nawazuddin Siddiqui), criminal overlord of the G-Company. As the stakes mount and Sartaj seeks knowledge of his prey, it becomes clear that the game the two players thought they were engaged in is in fact part of a much larger scenario, one that expands beyond their city.
On his recent holiday to the British capital, Saif Ali Khan spoke to Sunny Malik for The Asian Today where he opened up about the project and much more…
You’ve mixed business and pleasure whilst being in London …
It’s quite ideal actually. I like working in London. I shot an advertisement with Kareena and now I’m promoting my Netflix series too.
The first episode of Sacred Games has some very graphic scenes. How did you feel being a part of such a project?
I don’t think it’s perditious in any way. The story telling is quite responsible.The series is a graphic platform, where you can be a part of edgy stories. It’s different to TV and movies, a bit how a graphic novel is different from a comic book. There is something unique about it. Sacred Games lends itself perfectly to an eight hour series. Everything in India is interconnected such as politics, cops, underworld and Bollywood. The nexus between these things is quite interesting. Sacred Games really etched out the characters and explained them with a backstory, just like the book, but in a way it feels like an eight-hour long movie.
How was it like doing a TV series after being a part of so many feature films?
It was exhausting. We had very long working hours. We didn’t use a lot of lights and filmed at a lot of live locations. The plus side is that the scenes look amazing. You can’t set up that environment and replicate it otherwise. In films, you usually require a lot of set up to create a shot e.g. lighting and external equipment. For us, we were much more mobile with Sacred Games. We really explored Mumbai and the new technology in film making really helped us in doing so.
Realistic content is thriving now. Do you enjoy that space?
Things do need to be realistic but Sacred Games is quite extraordinary really. Everything is kind of larger than life and there is a lot of drama. The idea is to make the drama believable. It’s not a reality show. It’s quite dull actually.
How was your experience of working with Nawazudin Siddique?
He brings a lot of dignity to the roles he plays, almost a regal bearing. It’s fascinating to watch him perform and he is one of the best actors we have. I can’t even put my finger on what exactly makes him so great but I suspect, it’s the grace and composure. But there are also so many other actors I’ve come in contact with throughout this series who have improved my own acting skills. I’m really happy to have seen all that talent as there is so much of it. What we see on screen in Bollywood is really the tip of the iceberg in that sense.
The character is very different to what you’ve portrayed in the past or how you are as a person. How did you prepare for the role?
Absolutely, but the character has nothing to do with how I am personally. It was a little bit harder to get into the character but that’s the fun of being an actor. We have to try and understand someone else and create a reality out of it. It helps when the characters are strong and well-written. My director, Vikramaditya Motwane, also directed me very well. I really enjoyed being directed by him actually.
Netflix is becoming bigger by the day and some consider it as the platform which will kill cinemas. What’s your take?
I think, audiences will regardless of Netflix like to go to cinemas. I think, in an ideal universe you would do certain films for the big screen and certain type of content knowing that its best served on a streaming service. I’m just happy that as an actor I’m able to be a part of this world. I have noticed that people, in India, like going to the cinema. I think, directors need to be aware for what medium they are making their product. If you know that your movie or show is most likely going to be watched on a mobile phone, that would govern your directing style. If something is made for the big screen, directors need to film it for that purpose. We used to hear back in the days that close up shots are really important for TV. We just need to be aware of what is the best way to make content and for which medium.
Sacred Games launches globally on Netflix on 6th July