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Verve People
September 16, 2005

The other side of Zayed Khan

Text by Shraddha Jahagirdar-Saxena. Photographs by Tina Dehal. Styling by Vikram Phadnis

A cool dude with a tendency to walk on the wild side, he’s made more news for his real life shenanigans than for his reel life roles. Caught in a rare introspective mood, Zayed Khan – fresh from the sweet success of his latest flick, Dus – gives unusual glimpses into his sensitive side in an interaction with Verve

By his own confession…he is an impassioned lover boy, who not so many moons past, metamorphosed into a brooding ‘Roadside Romeo’ after an upset with his girlfriend of long-standing, Mallika Parekh. Way past the witching hour, oblivious to the stares of the few bystanders still on the road, he lay down flat on the cool asphalt and, pulling out his mobile, began whispering sweet nothings to his beloved. So what if a couple of curious passers-by stopped, stared and sniggered?

From the buzz in the tabloids…he is a regular party animal, reportedly a night rider who thinks nothing of picking up fights with total strangers. At one of Mumbai’s suburban watering holes, he grabbed a youth by his collar in a heated bar brawl that became the cynosure of attention.

Is he a pampered prince gone astray? A guy who just struck ‘Lucky’ due to his support system of friends and family? Or a much misunderstood youth full of beans whose talent remains largely untapped? Is he a cool dude who can make teenybopper hearts go flip-flop? Or a style-wise mannequin whose moves and movies are not aimed at drawing critical acclaim? Will the real life Zayed Khan please stand up?

Precisely five films after his foray into the world of Hindi cinema (Chura Liya Hai Tumne, Main Hoon Na, Vaada, Shabd and Dus), Zarine and Sanjay Khan’s lean and lanky bachcha seems to have finally found his feet in the unsteady world of hits and flops with the youth of the nation rocking to a pulsating new beat from his latest action movie. The ‘foreign’ educated boy – he’s studied at the Montgomery College, Maryland and the London Film School (after stints at Dehradun’s Welham Boys School and Kodaikanal’s International School, in India) – has, after a few hiccups, blended in comfortably into the big bad world of Bollywood.

“I was really a spoilt brat.”

Being the youngest, I was used to getting my own way. Mom apart, my three sisters – Farah (Ali), Simone (Arora) and Sussanne (Roshan), took great care of me. Farah, in fact, looked after me like a surrogate mother and I loved all the pampering.

“Acting is all I ever wanted to do.”

Dad would have liked me to be a lawyer but I never looked beyond the greasepaint for a career option even though I hardly spent time on the studio sets. I was too busy doing what all growing boys do with their friends – ski boarding, biking and playing. Yet, from the time I was seven, I always felt that I would be a superb actor some day and I was determined that no one would stop me from getting there.

“Dad inspired me to perform miracles.”

My father lived by example – he showed me how to have a great ambition backed by tremendous resolve. He taught me how to go above and beyond the impossible while Mom told me that being humble and keeping your feet on the ground is the right way to touch the sky.

Things changed at home when I was ten. The tragic fire on the sets of dad’s tele-serial, The Sword Of Tipu Sultan, was a turning point in my life. I was very young and yet I realised the seriousness of it all. It seemed the best time to take off. There had always been talk that I should go away to boarding school – I approached Dad and requested that I be allowed to study away from home….I still do not like to talk about what happened then. I will only say that it was an unsettling time for everyone. As a kid, I had to keep my mouth shut. I was not able to express myself or take advice from anybody. In a way, that robbed me of my sense of identity.

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