Chapter 4: Sameer

Tera koi bharosa nahi hai. Aaj Pooja, kal koi dooja.”

Saif Ali Khan was initially reluctant to play Sameer Mulchandani as it was the third lead in the film. Dimple Kapadia also asked him to reconsider his decision. In an interview with Mid-Day, Saif revealed that Aamir Khan convinced him to take up the role as Dil Chahta Hai was much bigger than all the other films he was working on at that time. Aamir’s prophecy became true, and Saif’s career got an entirely new direction after this film.

A still from Dil Chahta Hai.

Sameer is also a single child and belongs to an affluent family. He helps his father in his computer business. He is that one friend in a group whom everybody wants to pull his leg, and he does not mind it all. He has immense likability and a goofy charm about him. He is a bit forgetful and careless. He believed whatever his friends told him without putting much thought into the consequences of their advice. He does not realize that they might be just pulling his leg. He is confused about his feelings and is dependent upon his friends to guide him. He trusts people easily, but some people take advantage of that trust. It is why Kristine (Beatrice Gibson) was able to fool him in Goa. But he was not stupid. He could pull some tricks of his own on his friends as well. When Akash is leaving for Australia, he apologizes to Sameer for anything hurtful that he might have said about his relationships. Akash was feeling guilty as he realized that he told some inappropriate things to Sid about his relationship with Tara. Akash added that he was only joking. Sameer then tells him that he was not the only one who fooled around. He reveals that he knew Shalini was Rohit’s fiancée, but he did not tell him, which led to the fun events at their graduation party. It is an excellent scene in the film. It not only reminds the audience about Shalini, whom Akash will meet again in the flight in the next moment, but it also reveals a facet about Sameer that he was also playful and prankish.

Akash and Sameer are the two different ends of the friendship. Akash is the inciting one; Sid is the calming one. Sameer lies midway between them, even in terms of their character traits. Sameer finds strength because of his friendship, and when that friendship is on the verge of breaking, he is the one who tries to hold it together. He feels scared as he realized that the relationship between the three of them might not be the same ever again. Akash goes to Australia, and Sid goes to Kasauli, and he is left all alone. But, again, he is the only one who is there for both of his friends when they need him. He is the one who is with Sid when he calls him to inform about Tara’s admission to the hospital. He is the one who is there with Akash when he proposes to Shalini in her engagement. He is the one who helps mend the cracks in their friendship.

Sameer is usually in the middle.

Saif made his acting debut in Yash Chopra’s Parampara (1993) but achieved his first significant success in Naresh Malhotra’s Yeh Dillagi (1994). There was a song in that film that became a rage at that time. Jab bhi koi ladki dekhu, mera dil deewana bole. Ole ole ole, ole ole ole. “Whenever he sees a girl, his heart goes crazy,” he sings. Sameer is still that guy who falls in love with any and every girl he meets. Initially, he is in a relationship with Priya (Suchitra Pillai), who is controlling and possessive. She wants Sameer to choose either his friendship with Akash or his relationship with her. So, he breaks off with her. In Goa, Sameer falls for Kristine and starts imagining his life in Switzerland, but she turns out to be a crook. Then, his parents set him up with Pooja (Sonali Kulkarni), the daughter of a family friend. He is aghast at the thought of an arranged marriage, but when he meets Pooja, he falls flat for her, as expected from him. Akash perfectly described the state of his relationships, “Aaj Pooja, kal koi dooja.” Sameer, however, feels that he is genuinely in love with Priya, while his earlier relationships were mere infatuation. Everything about him is filmy. His relationship with Pooja is a take on that famous filmy dialogue, “Kyun na hum is dosti ko rishthedaari me badal de.” It is then entirely befitting that he gets the filmiest song of the film Woh Ladki Hai Kahan.

Sameer gets the funniest scenes in the film. He delivers memorable lines such as, “Haan main, magar wo, suno to, tumne to, lekin main, Akash ke yahan, hello,” or, “Ya toh dosti gehri hai, yaa phir yeh photo 3D hai.” His interaction with Subodh accounts for some of the hilarious parts. The lady whose chair Sameer took away at the restaurant when she was about to be seated will not share this view of him. Saif has said that he signed the film because of those two scenes in the restaurant and the car. When he confesses his feelings to Pooja, he does it again in his typical way of confusion and hesitation. No wonder Pooja tells him, “Tum bahut saare agar keh rahe ho,” and laughs it off.

Saif Ali Khan won plaudits for his performance as Sameer, even though his role was limited in length, and he was hardly there in the second half. Dil Chahta Hai gave his career a big fillip. In Raja Krishna Menon’s Chef (2017), Saif played Roshan, a chef who gets an opportunity to rediscover his passion after losing his job. In a meta moment in the film, Roshan reminisces about the time he had come to Goa with his two friends. He said that he had met a white woman, which led to some embarrassing events for him. It was a reference to the scene in Dil Chahta Hai when Kristine duped Sameer, and he was left high and dry. It is beautiful to see an actor reminiscing about the film that changed his career trajectory and gave it a second lease of life.

Dil Chahta Hai in Raja Krishna Menon’s Chef.