Of Saif and his Tom Cruise look

Hum TumIt's my new Tom Cruise look," Karan tries explaining his unkempt hairdo, which covers his entire forehead and half the eyes, to an uncomprehending Rhea.

"It's the latest fashion, Rhea! Oh, forget it, you won't understand," he adds irritatedly at her exasperated look...
And this is just one of the many moments where he finds girls 'oh so different' from boys.

Meet Saif Ali Khan in Kunal Kohli's just released Hum Tum, who not only sports a 'Tom Cruise look' (visible only to him and none else - either onscreen or off it) but also manages it with a panache rarely witnessed on the Hindi screen.

The audiences have lapped it up completely, and why not, because Saif Ali Khan has proven that he is a bankable star and that he has it in him to carry off a solo hero film.

With Hum Tum, the actor with a glorious sense of comic timing has finally arrived and how! Seriously, there is little doubt that Saif's forte lies in comedy - in the little nuances he lends to a scene, in a look that he gives or in a line that is delivered with the right tonality.

Not for him, the exuberant tones of a Shah Rukh Khan, the overt asides of a Govinda or even the casual, over the shoulder deliveries of an Aamir Khan. In fact, his is turning out to be the classic, understated style.

And, though of late he has been exploring other roles like Sriram Raghavan's Ek Hasina Thi (standing tall inspite of an author-backed role for Urmila Matondkar) there can be no denying that his admirers love him for a Mein Khiladi Tu Anari, Dil Chahta Hai, Kal Ho Naa Ho and now, Hum Tum.

But unlike the three previous films, where he had to share the spotlight with other stars, Hum Tum is Saif's show all the way. This, with an equally understated Rani Mukherji (as Rhea) acting as an ideal foil to his character - who grows from being an absolute brat to an understanding man who tries to match make for his best friend, little realizing that she loves him and wants him to make the first move.

No longer does Saif Ali Khan need other bankable props like Shah Rukh and Aamir Khan to make him look good, like he has in the past 13 years of his career. Even though his first film Aashiq Awara (co-starring Mamta Kulkarni) became a box-office success, the Chhote Nawab as he is sometimes called failed to kindle the box-office fires and was seen in washouts like Dil Tera Diwana, Mr. Aashiq, Imtihaan and Parampara.

Considered too effeminate for action roles, he lost out on some work to macho-looking men like Akshay Kumar, Sunil Shetty and Sanjay Dutt. But then Yeh Dillagi (co-starring Akshay Kumar and Kajol) with its brotherly act and hummable numbers like Ole,Ole, turned out to be a hit and Khan was back on track again.

A few more hits like Main Khiladi Tu Anari, Hum Saath Saath Hain and Kya Kehna and some flops like Keemat, Tu Chor Mein Sipahi and Hameshaa ensured that Saif remained in the news. He was also the film journalist's delight because of his wit, forthright interviews and accessibility.

Despite coming from a royal lineage - his father the Nawab of Patuadi (former skipper of the Indian cricket team) and mother Sharmila Tagore (the famous actress of yesteryears), the dice continued to be loaded in Saif's favour primarily because of his down-to-earth directness.

Even though you are only as good as your last act, the pressure has finally lifted from Chhote Nawab's shoulders since he no longer needs to prove anything to anymore - not to his colleagues, not his directors and not even his producers who put their money behind him, and certainly not to his fans - whose numbers have undoubtedly gone up since Hum Tum… the Tom Cruise look notwithstanding!