From loverboy to master manipulator: Saif Ali Khan ‘s transformation into a repellant political operator for Omkara was no easy task.
Saif reportedly yellowed his teeth and faked a limp to the play the central character, the manipulative Iago – Langda Tyagi in the film – an unlikely makeover needed to unsettle audiences who see ‘Omkara’, according to director Vishal Bhardwaj .
Saif had ‘to look like a villain and a political goon’ to make the film work, Bhardwaj said, “I wanted people to get scared after seeing him on screen.”
“Until ‘Omkara’, he had this lover-boy image. So it was a bold step for him to break the image,” Bhardwaj said.
In his book based on the play, Bhardwaj wrote: “With Saif, his character needed to be reptile like and yet, physically look like a rugged fighter. It was critical that he cut his hair. He had been reluctant to do so. I left the decision to his conscience. Finally on Eid, a day before we began shooting, he chopped it off, calling it qurbani (sacrifice) to Allah. In that single moment of truth, my Langda was born…Evil had rarely looked so cool on screen.”
Bhardwaj added: “I set the story amidst the political mafia of Uttar Pradesh… a strife-ridden melting pot in north India…I spent my childhood in the small town of Meerut in UP. This interpretation of Othello as my characters populate a place and language that I have known closely…Somewhere they have left their Shakespearean roots far behind and surrendered to me…For example I based the character of the central antagonist, Langda Tyagi, on a childhood friend whose growth as a gangster had happened in the front of my eyes.”
‘Omkara’ is scheduled to be released later this month and also stars Ajay Devgan , Kareena Kapoor , Vivek Oberoi , Naseeruddin Shah and Bipasha Basu makes a special appearance.