Saif Ali Khan has been busy brushing up on his Hindi. The actor who plays a school teacher in director Prakash Jha's Aarakshan is required to speak in chaste Hindi and at times even Sanskrit for the movie.
So Saif sat like a good student in his room for days and learned Hindi and also took up Amitabh Bachchan's suggestion to keep saying his dialogues through the day.
After Omkara, the 40-year-old actor will be seen in another unconventional role in Aarakshan - of a moustache-sporting village school teacher.
Speaking chaste Hindi was a bit of a challenge for Saif, as he has spent quite a lot of his days as a student in Britain. In fact, he also has a slight accent when he talks in English.
"Everyone knows Prakashji speaks serious Hindi in his movies! And Amitji (Amitabh Bachchan) and Manoj Bajpai clearly don't have a problem with that at all," said Saif, who has teamed up with Jha for the first time.
So, it was almost like going back to school for Saif, and he had to spend hours on his diction for Aarakshan.
"Before I started work on Aarakshan, my mother (Sharmila Tagore) had told me - 'Saif, you better learn your language'. I took it lightly then, but she was right. I really had to sit in my room and learn Hindi like a student," Saif told IANS.
But he enjoyed every bit of it.
"It was a beautiful experience to be shooting in Bhopal where I grew up, and even better to work hard on every scene when it was near- impossible to read the dialogues, be fluent, and saying them well with all the action."
Saif's dilemma was simplified by Big B, who plays a key role in the movie that deals with the reservation issue in Indian society.
"Amitji helped by suggesting that I say my dialogues in the shower, in the gym, while going for a walk, and during other times of the day... and it worked! He has always been inspiring and his delivery of Hindi can make any writer proud," he said.
Saif is now more appreciative of Hindi as a language than ever before.
"The language is so rich and powerful, definitely more powerful than English. It sounds beautiful when spoken well. And I am glad I was able to speak it fine thanks to this wonderful opportunity of working with these great people - Prakashji and Amitji."
The actor, who is currently busy working on his next home production Agent Vinod, says he is glad he took up a meaningful and socially relevant movie like Aarakshan.
"There is a certain responsibility when you choose a film like Aarakshan. I feel like I am doing my duty as a responsible actor. Aarakshan is a different role, a different character, a different space for me. I wouldn't associate myself with a teacher from a village or an academically brilliant scholar from a lower section of society - so it has definitely been a new challenge."
Full of praise for the director, he says: "Prakashji's method of work, his patience is unbelievable. He is a one man army, and he manages the crew like a field marshal. There is so much to learn from him," Saif said.