Sunday Brunch Ep 8: Saif Ali Khan Treats Kamiya Jani With ‘Ghar Ka Khaana’

by Kamiya Jani
Sunday Brunch Ep 8: Saif Ali Khan Treats Kamiya Jani With ‘Ghar Ka Khaana’

He gave us Goa travel goals in the cult-film Dil Chahta Hai, made us laugh and feel the romance in Hum Tum and Love Aaj Kal, enthralled us in the recent Netflix hit show, Sacred Games and gave us a stellar performance in the period drama of Tanhaji. Yes! We are talking about the uber-cool, Nawab of Bollywood and Social Media superstar, Taimur Ali Khan’s father, Saif Ali Khan. Our CTO and host, Kamiya Jani was invited by Saif Ali Khan himself for a Sunday Brunch cooked by his chef. The duo got talking about Saif’s latest film Jawaani Janeman over a delicious Nawabi meal. And they were later joined by his co-star and debutant Alaya F. So here’s Sunday Brunch with Saif Ali Khan and Alaya F with Kamiya Jani.

sunday brunch with saif ali khan and alaya with kamiya jani

Kamiya Jani (KJ): I’m very excited about this because I’m going to get a sneak peek into your lunch and dining scenes. So what’s in store for me? I believe you’ve got a meal for me today. 

Saif Ali Khan (S): I like to eat a slightly healthy lunch. I eat meat often for dinner. I like vegetarian lunch. So I have eggs for breakfast with toast and lunch is usually sabzi, bhindi, dal and some kind of gajar-matar with one roti. So it’s quite basic. And I sometimes have fish and rice.

KJ: I believe you have meals prepared only by your chef. Is it true? 

S: Sometimes, unfortunately, film unit food should not be eaten if you want to be fit. So I usually carry food from home while shooting. But if we are holidaying or filming abroad, desi food on a film set isn’t always the most diet-friendly.

KJ: So it’s Sunday and you’re a Leo and they are known to be very lazy. So how do you spend your Sundays? 

S: Very often in our profession, we end up working on a Sunday, which is not good because somebody would say this location is only around. But it also depends on costars. Anyway, this particular film that I’m working on, Sundays are usually off since I’m working on a Yash Raj film. And they are very organized. It’s with Rani Mukherjee and she also doesn’t want to work on Sundays as she has got a lovely young child. And we have to divide our time between our work and our children. So Sunday morning is spent waking up later than usual and spending the morning in bed with the children, dogs and wife. And maybe cooking something, hanging out, listening to music and doing very little work or exercise.

KJ: You’re a Nawaab and I would imagine your meals to be quite lavish. So how is it? 

S: I’m honestly not a Nawaab. I was a Nawaab for 1 year between 1970 and 1971. I was born a prince but in 1971, we changed that. But 1 year is better than nothing. I’m joking. But my grandmother loved food and Bhopal cuisine was really something. I remember in the old palace there used to be like caverns of kitchens. Like you’d go in there and there used to be one big bawarchi khaana, like they used to call it, and it would go on and on. It was quite scary like ging in from one cave to another. There were people cooking for a couple of hundred people. This is a more regular fare of gajar-matar and bhindi. I like a healthy feeling of lunch. I hate feeling stuffed. I have always loved bhindi.

KJ: I am always curious to know, how is the Nawabi life? Is it like how they portray in films and tv shows, where royals are fed grapes?

S: That’s more Roman Emporer. Our kind of Nawabs are more sporty and hardworking.

KJ: Even in a palace, is there bhindi and dal or do you eat Nalli Nihari for breakfast for something like that? 

S: I don’t like that kind of rich food, maybe maximum some kebabs in the evening. But usually, its all kind of diet food, because it depends on the job. Some people live for food.

KJ: Do you live for food?

S: No, I kind of eat to survive. I am not very sensory-based with what I eat. The highlight is not what we’re eating. So we eat simple food as we have to be fit. So my wife and I eat simple food even in Pataudi.

KJ: Are you calculative about your meals because you’re an actor? 

S: Definitely! We cheat, we make mistakes and we fall off the wagon, but generally, we are quite aware of what to do or what not to do.

KJ: What would be those mistakes or cheat meals?

S: It’s usually junk food. I notice whenever I get hungry, I turn towards junk. So the idea is never to be too hungry. You can be more discerning when you’re not desperate. But the minute I get hungry, I want to eat a pizza, bhel puri or stuff like that.

KJ: Are there days when you wish you could eat anything?

S: I don’t think it works like that. At least our morality is based on our profession, and everything is on that camera. It’s like religion. It’s nice to have rules, you know when you’re breaking the law, when you’re within it and when you’re cheating. But generally speaking, bad behaviour or completely loose morality in terms of food, leads to something that you don’t want.

KJ: I believe for your films Chef and Salaam Namaste, you learnt a bit of cooking. 

S: I did, I learnt a lot of cooking.

KJ: Is there any dish that Kareena really likes? 

S: She likes the Mediterranean fish that I make. My mum likes it too. Pasta, spaghetti, Aglio Olio, is easy. But the most exotic things is flambe prawns. But my wife is allergic to prawns. She is mostly a vegetarian, sometimes indulges in non-vegetarian food.

KJ: So is it a challenge, you being a hardcore non-vegetarian, and she being a vegetarian? 

S: But I am not really a hardcore non-vegetarian. I tend to eat chicken at night.

KJ: What is the craziest non-vegetarian dish you had?

S: I ate a crocodile once. I went to a restaurant called Carnivore in Africa. And they serve you different kinds of meat like a rattlesnake. But the tastiest thing on the menu was chicken.

KJ: You’re married to Kareena, who is from the Kapoor khandan, a family of foodies. So how it when you go to your in-laws’ place? Do they overfeed you since you’re the son-in-law?

S: There are some places like Reema Aunty’s house, Daboo Uncle’s sister, their food is amazing. But we have to be careful though, some of it is heavy and lovely. So diets tend to go for a toss. Some of the fish and such dishes are not very diet-friendly. And they also love Chinese food, which I love too. So alot of our dietary tastes seem to match as well. I like oysters, seafood and caviar.

KJ: I believe you studied in Lawrence School in Shimla. So how was the mountain life there? 

S: My father loved the outdoors. We used to love the jungles, desert and seas. And we used to travel alot, particularly to the mountains as it used to get very hot in Delhi in summers. S we used to go up to Mussourie and places like that like Shimla. We used to spend alot of time in hill stations, as a kid as well as when we used to film in those locations. So I have done alot of travelling in India.

KJ: You seem to be quite big on travel. What is your perception of travel? What is your understanding of it? What does it do to you? 

S: The best kind of travel really would be to go and have a meal in somebody’s house, with them. If you’re travelling in Venice, to go to somebody’s little apartment, or anywhere for that matter, to eat a meal with a family, would be the most interesting thing. But I mean cultures grow, the mind also grows through interaction with other people, to see how people see things.

KJ: So do you visit a local home and try different cuisines? 

S: The last time I did that was when an English friend was cast for Rangoon, Vishal Bhardwaj’s film. And we were up in Assam together, we were walking around the North East. And unfortunately, it’s more English than Bollywood. That’s because we tend to stay in our rooms, watch TV, gym and go to bed after pack up. So he told me that our guide was really interesting, so we could go and have dinner at his house. And we went. And they made tasty beer and they cooked rice in bamboo sticks, heated over a fire. They were all dressed in kurtas or lungis, and it was the most elegant dinner I have ever seen. It was fantastic.

KJ: Home dining experience is fun. What about adventures? Do you like sky diving, scuba diving? 

S: Scuba diving, yes. Not sky diving. I don’t particularly like heights and that kind of adrenaline. But I have jumped off some crazy stuff in movies. But I do like the new trend of hiking, sports skiing more like an exercise in nature.

KJ: Are you and Kareena travel compatible? Does she also like the same things?

S: Yes! We both love the beach and the mountains. We also love the same kind of travel. So for my birthday and in winter, I like to do a film and then take a break. But now what we have started doing is, calling a couple of friends, usually the same lot. We rent a cottage on the sea, so we can all take turns cooking, listening to music, chatting, drinking great wine and hanging out.

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KJ: You also visit Gstaad quite often. And I believe you also have a house there. Is that your favourite destination. 

S: No, that’s a misconception. We don’t have a house there. But we visit Gstaad every year, for the last 12 years, on New Year’s eve, a day after Christmas. It’s heaven. It’s really nice, like a fairytale village in the Swiss Alps. The food is amazing and the atmosphere is amazing. A lot of people come there and find it a bit old fashioned and quiet. But we don’t really like the rock and roll lifestyle anymore, in terms of noise. We’re quite at peace with ourselves. And we sit and have the best bottle of wine we can get our hands on that year, and we talk to our friends about what’s going on.

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Holiday vibes ❤️❤️

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KJ: How is it travelling around with a toddler? Do you plan your itineraries around Taimur? 

S: We don’t really want to be away from him, even in the evenings. And luckily I’m in that stage of my life where I don’t feel I’m missing out on anything if I’m with him. In fact, I’d rather be with him than in the bar or whatever. But we have alot of help. We have a wonderful nanny that always travels with us, and we also have an assistant. So it makes things much easier. But we still end up doing things according to his timings.

KJ: Which has been your most memorable trip to date be it with family or friends? 

S: It must be renting one of these lovely cottages in the summer, in the UK, or one of these mountain holidays, skiing and eating.

KJ: What are your top 3 travel places? 

S: I’d have to say Gstaad, Maldives and London. Claridge’s Hotel in Mayfair is heaven. I’m not sure if I believe in an afterlife, but that is heaven. My son and I were both crawling over the new carpet because thats just amazing. And he was also like WOW!

KJ: I’m sure the Pataudi palace has a special place in your heart and you reacquired it at some point. 

S: It was like a 20-year lease, where alot of people who have come out of these kinds of homes have leased it out as a hotel. So that’s what my father had done for a while. And after he passed away, they asked me if I wanted it back. And I said Yes! So they worked out what would be a fair financial deal to close it down. It was on rent for 10 years, but I said let’s wrap it up in 1 year.

KJ: So can anyone go and stay there? 

S: Well, it’s our private home.

KJ: When it comes to your films, you have transcended through age groups and demographics, what is it that works in your favour? 

S: I have absolutely no idea. I think it’s all in the writing. These are films ( Ta Ra Rum Pum, Salaam Namaste) that Yash Raj made. And I think they knew what they were doing. Aditya Chopra is one of the most intelligent film brains, that I have ever come across. And it’s all in the writing. I think that’s one of the great things about being a good producer, you’ve got to know how to pitch a film. And they really know what they are doing.

KJ: What kind of father are you in real life? 

S: My kids are all of different ages. Taimur and I obviously have a more infant sort of a relationship. I’m not sure who is the infant at times. And Ibrahim is at a different stage. And all 3 of my kids have a third of my heart and attention, they can’t really replace each other. Even if one of them is annoying me the other one cant make me feel better. So its interesting they all have unique identities.

KJ: Alaya! Do you have food preferences or are you happy with anything?

Alaya F (A): I’m happy with everything. Many people ask me what’s your favourite restaurant or ask me how was that restaurant? But I’m the worst person to ask. I would say it’s great and they would be like it’s not. So I don’t know. I like everything.

KJ: So how was it Alaya, to work with Saif Ali Khan and Tabu? I’m sure you must have watched alot of their films, which one has been your favourite? 

A: I don’t think I can pick a favourite. I am very bad at picking favourites. I’ve liked all their work. I have loved Salaam Namaste.

KJ: Was it intimidating working with these stars of such high calibre?

A: Ofcourse it’s a little intimidating. But then they make you feel so at home and comfortable. So yes, I feel like the environment was so positive all the time. And eventually, we all settled in very well.

S: Yes, I would say one thing that it’s very important to make people feel comfortable on the set. So we would go out of our way to make sure every actor feels comfortable.

KJ: Did it help to have a daughter, Sara who is the same age as Alaya? 

S: First of all, acting for me is a very selfish business. So I am much happier acting with strangers, who I then get to know and we form a professional equation than family. I don’t really want to have the burden of being responsible in any way for the person. As a producer, we have a responsibility towards Alaya and her parents, to make sure we are presenting her properly. Some people have the ability to observe as well as perform. But I feel you can either be one. If you’re observing then you’re not performing. And if you’re performing then you can’t be observing. You have to be reacting. So its much better for me to not get too involved.

A: But you have good notes when we watch the monitor afterwards.

KJ: What do you think of the generation of this time?

S:  The world has become more advanced. And the film industry has become more competitive and professional. And people have to be much more on the ball than they can afford to be. The time when I started, it was really quite casual. Whether the film or didn’t there was much more friendship and camaraderie. It didn’t really mean so much. And now it means more than anything, which is good and also a little bad. But anyway they are little prepared. And they are very organized, which makes it great to work with them. Alot of the things are luck. And we are really lucky that we got someone supremely talented like Alaya, to play the girl in the movie.

KJ: How do you think travelling is different from the older generation in comparison to when you go travelling? 

A: I can speak for my parents, they take alt of time to pack. I don’t know that’s the only thing I feel is different. They do so much planning. When I go travelling, I’m very spontaneous, I just pack my bags and just book a ticket and head somewhere.

S: There is a difference. I agree.