One of Saif Ali Khan’s early films of note, where he played a leading man of substance, was Pradeep Sarkar’s Parineeta, an adaptation of Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay’s classic novel, where Saif played Shekhar to Vidya Balan’s Lalita.
Jolted to hear of Sarkar’s untimely demise, Saif tells Subhash K Jha, “I am very sad to hear this. Dada was an artist. Parineeta was an important film to me for so many reasons. It broke a certain image and allowed me to play the lead with a very different energy.”
Recalling Sarkar’s directorial skills, Saif says, “Dada only shot my left side because he loved that profile. He encouraged the Bengali side in me (Saif’s mother Sharmila Tagore is a Bengali) to be more artistic.
“His framing and design were beautiful. You had the feeling you were working in proper cinema: artistic, beautifully lit. His face would light up with child-like joy when you delivered something good.”
Saif saw Sarkar lose his temper just once.
“I’ve seen him angry only once. Righteous rage, I would call it. Very frightening. There was some technical issue he had warned the crew about. He yelled loudly and went dark with rage but it passed equally quickly, like a thunderstorm.”
Saif recalls Sarkar’s tireless quest for the perfect shot.
“I can see him in my mind, meticulously forwarding and rewinding the video assist with his tongue sticking out, deep in concentration at 4 am while we had falling asleep around him.”
Saif can’t thank Sarkar enough for giving him Parineeta: “He was encouraging, kind and generous. I will always be in his debt for giving me that role and for believing in me.”
“I will miss him. My thoughts and prayers are with his family and his most wonderful partner, producer and wife, Piu Sarkar. He gave me a lot, and I’m very sorry that he is gone.”
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