Saad Khan is a film director, screenwriter, acting teacher, founder and creative head of Centerstage. While he is most popularly known as the creator and host of The Improv (improvisational comedy show), he has also directed movies on serious thought provoking topics. Such is the versatility of his talent.
Having always been inclined towards entertainment, Saad directed his first play when he was just 16. When he joined college to pursue engineering at age 18, he started the Ramaiah theatre group, predominantly performing English plays. His first play in that first year made him quite popular. Soon after, he started doing theatre full time. Saad’s fame spread, getting him featured in the press. His prowess as a play director only grew, resulting in him working with distinguished theatre performers including Arati Punwani and Rubi Chakravarti. Saad’s passion for direction led him to the U.S. to study film-making. 3 and half years of study resulted in a short film that was screened at the Cannes film festival. After moving back to India he assisted Ashutosh Gowariker for a year and half. All this experience culminated in founding Centerstage in Bangalore in 2011. Talking about the motive behind it, he says, “Just an acting workshop since I’d learned film making, assisted a film maker and made short films. I knew from the other side of the camera what I could give to aspiring actors.”
Just an acting workshop since I’d learned film making, assisted a film maker and made short films. I knew from the other side of the camera what I could give to aspiring actors.”
Centerstage has grown by leaps and bounds since its beginnings in 2011. Today they offer acting workshops, end to end film production services, casting, conceptualise live shows, are involved in filmmaking and much more. The Improv is one of Saad’s most popular creations. How did the idea for it strike him? He says, “When I started doing the workshops and meeting students, I watched a lot of improvisations in the U.S. When I directed actors I was never limited to the script. I liked to see something new come out which was on the spot. Stand up comedy was quite huge and not many people knew about Improvisation, which is totally different from stand up comedy. I was a big fan of ‘Whose line is it anyway?’ while growing up.” The Improv was an instant hit, and has only been growing in popularity. With Saad’s creative genius backing the show, it’s constantly evolving to become bigger and better.
Saad’s take on dealing with the ups and downs of his profession: “The idea of failure is beautiful. It’s a process like any other job, put your 100%. You just need to work hard during the down and out times. You can’t know whether what you make will be successful or not.” Whenever he feels a show is not up to the mark, he goes back to the drawing board to make improvements. Love for his craft helps him deal with the pressure to succeed, the disappointments and fluctuations.
Since I got popularity early in theatre I knew it wasn’t going to stay, since one day you have success and the next you don’t. I’m not driven by success and fame; but by work, practice and learning.”
Lessons from his struggles, and the constant urge to better himself is what motivates Saad. Travelling and seeing others pursuing their passion inspires him. Ideas for his plays and films are often drawn from the problems faced in society. He wants to make a difference by highlighting these socially relevant issues.
Currently Saad is busy with the final stage of production of the film ‘Love and She’ directed by him, collaboration with an American doctor Dr. Jatin Patel. The movie touches on a very sensitive topic – a couple dealing with post miscarriage trauma. This is his second feature film after ‘Station’, which gave him credibility as a serious director. Post ‘Love and She’ he has a comedy film in the pipeline. Sharing his hopes for the future, he says, “As a filmmaker I want to do a lot more work. Where I am today is due to my team. Never planned or thought I would get so far. We just worked and the outcome has got us to this level. Now I want to create a lot more different ways to entertain the audience.”
Prove yourself and let the other person judge if you’re talented or need improvement.”
To youngsters wanting to break into the entertainment scene he says, “Prove yourself and let the other person judge if you’re talented or need improvement. The journey for everyone is different, but learning and development is constant. And this learning and development will be spotted.”
Despite having accomplished so much, Saad Khan remains grounded and humble. The itch to learn and do more drives him ahead. Because, when you get right down to it, you have to keep at your dreams for them to stay alive.