Katrina Kaif’s first Filmfare Cover Story
On her birthday, we dig into our archives and bring you Katrina’s first words to us…
“I’m madly in love with the idea of being in love”
‘No questions on Salman, please’ I’m expecting mandatory warning as Katrina Kaif slides into the settee opposite me. I wait. “What, no warning?” I ask in surprise, Katrina grins, “No I’ve learnt to tackle all those questions. “Great!” I tell her, gleefully. “Let me now try to extract all the info I can about Salman.
“Try all you want,” she smiles impishly as she stretches out.
She’s just flown down from Delhi and raced from the airport to the coffee shop, where she’s meeting me. “God I’m so tired,” she says rubbing her eyes, She orders black coffee, soaks in the cool ambience as the soft murmurs of the early afternoon ripples through the room. She’s just wound up a hectic India Fashion Week and besides, “It really gets tough time finding a suitable house. “It really gets tough when you’re alone and you have to look into everything,” she says sipping her coffee.
So far, so frothy.
The biggest challenge, however, comes now when two of her moives – Maine Pyar Kyun Kiya and Sarkar—are up for release. She’s aware of the stakes. But all she will say for now is, “I’ve given it my best shot.”
Working on both the movies have been quite an experience for the actress. She says “I don’t really remember being nervous. After I did my first shot for David Dhawan’s Maine Pyar Kyu Kiya, some people were worried that I would not be able to memorize my dialogue, but were very impressed to see I knew all my lines and cues. When I started the film I was told I would get my dialogues a day in advance. But that never happened. I’d get my lines either in the morning of the shoot or 10 minutes before the shot. Yet I managed well. I was told this is how it works in most hindi films. So I got into the grooved right from the beginning. Now I’m confident that I can manage in other movies as well.”
She seems eager to dispel as your doubts about how Hindi-friendly she is: “I’m very good with lines and dialogues. I’ve done enough classes, I can read and writer Hindi very well. Anyway I’ve done movies in Telugu without knowing a word of it. So speaking Hindi was really a cakewalke after that.”
Her role in Maine Pyar Kyu Kiya she tells me is that of a naïve girl who’s a catalyst for the comedy. “I’m not supposed to be outright funny in the movie.” Then before I can ask, she says “David thought I suited the character, which is why he wanted my in the film. It is not as if someone put a word for me. I had my own reasons for doing the film. People know me as a model, so to be accepted by the masses in a David Dhawan film would be a great beginning. It’s my big chance to prove myself. And I ended up having a great time.”
IF MAINE Pyar Kyu Kiya was loads of fun, Ram Gopal Varma’s Sarkar was quite an intense experience. “In a Ram Gopal Varma film, everyone is a character. So the length of the role is not important. In short my experience with him, I found him very precise. David would let you be as an actor. But Ramu would say, “Don’t do this, Don’t do that, Don’t stand like that. He’s very clear, specific about what he wants. So he gets it in one or two takes. And he is very relaxed on sets.”
She admits life was a tad subdued on RVG’s sets after her David Dhawan experience. “But I was very comfortable,” she points out. “I wouldn’t work otherwise. I was apprehensive about working with Abhishek Bachchan because I didn’t know him that well. But he’s very chilled out. He’d tease me about being such a kid and I kept telling him how much I’d grown up out here. He was really helpful on the sets. If he thought a different pause or a different stress in the dialogue would help, he’d tell me.
“David Dhawan is all fun it’s all about having a great time. Ram Gopal Varma’s set up is more serious, more subtle, and more realistic, they are poles apart and I enjoyed working in both set-ups. Now I have to see what it’s like to be somewhere in the middle.”
That’s where Raj Kanwar comes in – Katrina’s signed his next film. “He belongs to the Dharmesh Darshan school of film-making. That should be interesting,” she tells me. “I have a very Western imgae and I don’t want to get away from it. But I need to experiment with other kinds of roles. Raj Ji is very good with the way he presents him women and I am hoping he’ll present me in a way that will make other directors who have Indian roles in mind look at me. His forte is emotions, expressions and an Indian touch, which is what I need. So in that sense doing a Raj Knawar film is a very intentional move. It isn’t a move to try and get a hit film but to package myself differently.
THE ACTRESS seems not poise but genuinely at ease with her self when she says, “I can see myself improving everyday. I’ve started watching other stars do on the sets. You can learn a lot by watching on and off the sets, even if I don’t like the actor, or I find the film boring I still make my self watch it. You know, I haven’t like Salman in so many movies. But,m I feel he has tremendous energy on screen so observed him closely on the sets. When I watch Sushmita Sen I find her so focused between what she is doing.”
In between sips of coffee and her ringing phone, she adds, “As an actor Salman is cool. If watch him on the sets, it might look like he is not thinking his work. And I’d say to myself, if he’s not thiniking about the scene the I don’t need to, either. I can play turant. But I realized how wrong I was. Because even when he is goofing about, he is actually thinking about every shot. Once the camera is on, he’s so prepared. I realized that he could fool around, but his work is never away from his mind.”
Would Salman instruct her on to do a particular scene? Yes, he would, “But even Abhishek did that once or twice,” she points out. “He’d say, read your lines to me, I want to know how you’re going to do it. Salman didn’t do that a lot. Honestly a lot of time he’d tell me to do my ways. Once or twice he stopped me and said no, do it just looks at me asif I don’t know what I’m talking about,” She grins “He has a point. Those movies are huge hits, so it really doesn’t matter what I think about them. I mean, if I had a hit film and you told me you didn’t like it. I’d say “Who cares.”
Does she see herself as an insider now that she’s been in the industry nearly three years? “Honestly, the industry has its clans. They know each other, they work together. In that sense I haven’t work with many people. I think I am the part of the industry but on the fringe.”
Tell her she couldn’t be more of an insider when she’s associated with Salman Khan and she argues quietly, “Salman is just one part of the industry. There’s more to the industry than him andhis circle.”
Our conversation continues in measured tones, bouncing off various topics, cutting away at the conjuncture surrounding her relationship with Salman Khan. Her gaur slips briefly as we bring up Salman Khan again. I tell her talk is that Salman Khanis promoting her big-time she laughs, “I’d like to where and when he has promised me. Frankly, it doesn’t work like that. Sometimes I fell if didn’t have this connection I’d b doing more films with him. Some-filmmakers might be unsure about pairing me with him.”
Does she her association with Salman as her strength or weakness? “He’s not a part of me, so how would he my strength or weakness” she retorts. “Honestly, I don’t know how the industry perceives it. But in my mind my work is my work. And my personal life is my personal life. I refuse to even let the thought of it in my head that the two of them can merge. And I don’t want t talk about my personal life.
“Why, if you can tell me for sure what’s going to happen in the future. I’ll talk to you about everyone in my life. But who knows, where you’re going to end up tomorrow or next week or next month. And then you go back and see all those magazines and all those words you’ve said, may be different. I’ve seen it happen so many times and you sound foolish. So it’s best not to talk.”
Her voice trails off. The hum of the conversation form the surrounding table becomes a little more intrusive. Her gaze fits the window. Silence, the waiter pours more water coffee. Tehn softly, she says she detests all speculations about her personal life in the media. “I’ve learnbt to live with it,” she grimaces, “but I don’t like it. And I don’t want to add to it by talking. I’m very sensitive and it really hurts to read the comments about your personal life, especially when people don’t know what’s happening.”
Does she feel her personal life sometimes overshadows the other aspects of her life, I ask “I don’t think so…”her forehead crinkles in to a frown, “I do a lot of work. I’ve been doing a lot of ads. I mean, I’m on television every five minutes. I’m very clear that I’m here by the virtue of my work. So how the other chooses to see me or comment on me is really up to them. I’m here to work, I need the money. I want to buy a house. So I’m not getting into the whys and hows of it all.”
Right on. but is she in love? “Yes” she coos. I’m madly in love with the idea of being in love.” And what’s her ideal man like? “I really can’t talk my ideal man because I have this very bad habit of day dreaming about this knight in shining Armour who’ll sweep me off my feet and worship the ground I walk on. I just have this perfect romanticized idea how love should be. My mother tells me, my friends tell me, to stop romanticizing because you never know what real life is going to be like, but I can’t seem to stop. I realize that love is not like it’s in the movies. Frankly, right now I have no opinion about love, about marriage. I’m only 21. it’s the age at which one forms one’s ideas, finds one’s values, one’s way of living.
Okay, so does Salman fit the bill the of her ideal man? “I can’t answer that,” she replies without any frills. Pause. Then she lets on, “Everyone has different interpretations about relationships. But I just feel; that it’s very, very difficult to sustain a relationship in this kind of an industry. Everything is so In-Your-Face. There is too much speculation. Every move of yours is scrutinized. And it’s not just the media; there are too many people around, too many inferences, too much loose talk. It becomes difficult to get across to the other person.”
Enough, she decides. And sums up, “All this has taught me one thing. That you must focus on your career and your work. That ‘s the only reality out here. Because if you don’t, you might be left with nothing at the end of the day. And I can’t let that happen to me. I’m sure about that.