Actor Saif Ali Khan has said that reports of him buying back his ancestral home -- the Pataudi Palace -- from a hotel chain are a 'massive exaggeration'. He said that the property is 'priceless', and disputed the reported Rs 800 crore price tag.
In an interview, Saif said that since he already owned the property, he didn't have to buy it back from the Neemrana group, but there were other financial arrangements made.
The actor, who recently returned to Mumbai after a quick visit to Pataudi, told Mumbai Mirror that the estimated worth is 'a massive exaggeration; a miscommunication really'. He added, "It's impossible to put a value to it in monetary terms because emotionally, the property is priceless. My grandparents and father are buried there, there's security, serenity and a spiritual connection there for me. The land goes back by a few centuries, but the palace that my grandfather built for my grandmother is around a hundred years old. He was the ruling monarch then, but since then, privy purses and titles have been abolished. These are different times which is why my father leased it out and Francis (Wacziarg) and Aman (Nath), who ran a hotel in the palace, took good care of the property and were like family. My mother (Sharmila Tagore) has a cottage there and she was always comfortable."
Saif said that the property was leased to Neemrana Hotels, but he felt a desire to have it back in the family after his father's death. "So, when I was offered the chance, I wrapped up the lease that was left, paid up and took possession of our home again. It was a fair financial arrangement and contrary to reports, I did not have to buy it back because I already owned it. In my teenage years, I was the black sheep, so, it feels nice now to do this for the family and our heritage," the actor said, adding that he rents out certain portions of the property for film shoots, so that it can sustain itself.
Previously, in an interview to Mid-Day, Saif said, "People have a certain fixed notion. For that matter, even [with] Pataudi [palace], when my father died, it got rented to Neemrana Hotels. Aman [Nath] and Francis [Wacziarg] used to run [the hotel]. Francis passed away. He'd said that if I wanted (the palace) back, I could let him know. I said: 'I want it back'. They held a conference, and said, 'okay, you have to give us lots of money!' Which I then consequently earned."
He added, "So, even the house I'm supposed to have inherited has been earned back through money from films. You can't live off the past. At least we can't in our family, because there was nothing. There is history, culture, beautiful photographs; and, of course, some land. It has been a privileged upbringing. But there's been no inheritance."
Saif described Pataudi Palace as a 'largish, colonial, Lutyens Delhi-syle country home' with seven bedrooms and beautiful gardens. He said that the books have been restored, and the family portraits are back on the walls.