I had some preconceived notions about Feroze Khan before I met him.
I imagined him to have plenty of starry airs given how fast his career has spiraled to success. I thought that he would be a firecracker like his sister Humaima Malick, that he would be fond of making dramatic statements, boyish and, given the character he is currently playing on TV, roll into our interview on a swanky motorbike.
To the contrary, Feroze turned out to be a philosopher in the making, very humble and quite serious for a 28-year-old — hardly the devil-may-care boy and more the introspective man.
He wore an unassuming T-shirt and jeans, a cap firmly lodged on his head and, unlike so many of his contemporaries, he arrived right on time. And he came in a car, just like all regular mortals. But this doesn’t mean that Feroze Khan isn’t a star — he just doesn’t feel the need to prove to the world that he is one. He doesn’t need to dress the part or put on an attitude because eyes naturally swivel in his direction wherever he goes. Fans gravitate towards him when he’s out, he continues to top TV ratings with his successive dramas, his acting has been winning him rave reviews and, according to him, he consistently gets offered projects where he has the chance to do what he loves — act.
“I’m in this profession because I love to act,” he professes. “I’m lucky that I’m appreciated for the work that I do and I hope to keep doing more, doing better. Having said this, I have never aspired to be a star. It’s said that for every rise there is a fall but if you never accept that you have risen, how will you ever fall?”
This, I discover, is classic Feroze Khan rhetoric. He mulls over his words and frequently delves towards the spiritual. If a project didn’t come his way, it doesn’t make him feel insecure because ‘it wasn’t meant to be’ and if his co-stars turn out to be particularly difficult, he just takes it in his stride and ‘prays for them’. He is so utterly philosophical that he is even able to explain away the fact that he wakes up late in the noon: “I believe that whatever work is meant to come to me, it will come to me. I don’t need to wake up early to go in search of it’.
He switches gears just as easily to describe his extensive fitness regimen — currently, three hours in the gym daily! — or to predict that the next Shah Rukh Khan movie is going to be a big hit or to talk at length about his family: his mum, his dad, his wife, sisters and the many nephews and nieces who are “ruining themselves with their electronic gadgets.”
Every now and then, he pauses and glances warily at my cell phone, recording away our conversation. “How much of this are you going to write? I don’t want this interview to hurt anyone or sling mud at anyone. Please keep the off-the-record bits to yourself.”
And so I do. We still have an interesting conversation, even after eliminating the mudslinging