In good company
Rajiv Vijayakar speaks to Katrina Kaif on her upcoming film ‘Jab Tak Hai Jaan’, her relationship with her director Yash Chopra, and her equation with co-star Shah Rukh Khan, and more...
Katrina Kaif looks fatigued — by all the promotional activity that is a part of work for all actors today. Since morning, she has been doing television interviews for Jab Tak Hai Jaan, with which she joins the exalted but exclusive tribe of contemporary stars like Sridevi, Raveena Tandon, Madhuri Dixit, Karisma Kapur, Rani Mukerji and Preity Zinta, who were directed by the legendary and now late Yash Chopra.
And we wish she could smile at herself, for that warm smile that starts from the eyes could reenergise her instantly, just like it instantly takes away all tiredness from us! Nevertheless, Katrina puts aside all her low-energy issues to answer our questions with characteristic honesty and clarity.
On the rare honour of being a Yash Chopra-directed heroine, and on being the female Shah Rukh Khan for Yash Raj Films, in the sense that she has already done five films with the banner, including the forthcoming Dhoom:3, within five years, she has an illuminating answer: “Did you know that my first film with YRF was actually Bachna Ae Haseeno? But my role was edited out even before the film went on the floors.”
As for working with Yash Chopra, Katrina recollects her wish at the premiere of Veer-Zaara in 2004. “When I saw the sequence in which Shah Rukh Khan carries Preity Zinta over the bridge, I really wanted to do a Yash Chopra film. But I knew that it was very unlikely — I was the outsider, and I was not like the very Indian-looking heroines he directed. So when Yashji actually called me last year and asked if I would like to work with him, it was like a stamp of approval on my career.”
Katrina, however, does admit that the offer was not a total surprise. “I was in and out of YRF Studios in those days, because of Mere Brother Ki Dulhan and Ek Tha Tiger and there were whispers in the air, so it was not completely unexpected. Yash ji had really liked me in Mere Brother Ki Dulhan and had loved the film itself. We had had long conversations about it whenever we met.”
Working with Yash Chopra
What was special about being a Yash Chopra-heroine? “I think the women in his films are not just beautiful, but also have strong multidimensional characters, whether they are pious or flawed,” says Katrina thoughtfully. “They are deep. And I don’t think this came about without reason. Yashji deeply respected women, and you could see that in his relationship with his wife too.” She adds, “Even with me, he would prefer personal interactions. He really cared for you as a person.”
The actress treasures the last long meeting they had before she left for Chicago to shoot for Dhoom:3. “We had a sitting for the sarees I was to wear in the song we were to shoot in Switzerland. Like always, he took a personal interest in choosing which of the 15 sarees looked best. While leaving, he told me, ‘Okay then, see you in Switzerland,’ and even mentioned the date, because he was very particular about such things and wanted to make sure it fitted in with my schedule.”
A genuine sadness remains, says the actress about her oldest director. “Let us just remember that he went out with guns blazing, probably just the way he would have liked. He was too active a man to have gone any other way. His maturity and sensitivity and his whole approach made him stand out. He celebrated the undying quality of love because he had seen it all in real life — love, passion and conviction,” she says in a matter-of-fact tone.
We come to her leading man, Shah Rukh Khan and she points out almost as a self-discovery that her director and co-star had many things in common. “Shah Rukh too is always caring and has a lot of respect for women. He is a gentleman. He will rehearse with you in the interest of the film, rather than just being concerned with his own role and shot.”
As an actor, Katrina finds him “exceptional in the intense romantic characters he does,” and says, “I really enjoyed working with him once I got to know him. There was a scene in which I suggested that he do it a little differently. He listened, but also said, ‘Okay! This girl who could not even meet my eye in the beginning has now started teaching and correcting me!’”
As for Anushka Sharma, her other co-star, she says, “I really got along well with her. It took no effort and there was neither awkwardness nor forced silence. In fact, we are having a lot of fun on the promotions together!”
Finally, what does she have to say about Ek Tha Tiger and so many other films crossing 100 crores in collection? And she replies, “It’s good that so much money is being made, but that’s only one side of work. I would not like to do films only because I think that a particular film will make 100 crores. As part of my profession, I would love to do good roles, even though I know that the box-office potential would be modest.”