There are few people in the world that can look good even when they are feeling under the weather. Clearly, Katrina Kaif is one of them. When t2 met the actress in the normally freezing make-up room at Yash Raj Studio, the Bolly beauty was dressed in a causal but chic sweatshirt and jeans. The AC in the make-up room was switched off. “I have slight fever and cold,” she explained. And yet, her peaches-and-cream complexion was glowing.
Kat is on a roll with two YRF releases this year — Ek Tha Tiger (with Salman Khan) and Jab Tak Hai Jaan (with Shah Rukh Khan) — and she has recently returned from shooting the third instalment of their Dhoom series (with Aamir Khan). “It’s been a hectic year. I guess which is why my immune system is a little low. I can’t wait to take a short break,” she says with a smile. Sipping a large cuppa of joe, she spoke about her decade as a star and pulling Shah Rukh’s leg.
You were very keen to work with Yash Chopra...
Absolutely! Who wouldn’t be? For me personally, working with Yashji meant that I had got the ultimate seal of approval. Yashji was a very intregal part of the Hindi film industry. Considering I am not from the industry, I was looking for that kind of approval.
When such a film is launched even before the actors are cast, a lot of buzz gets generated. Whenever anyone spoke about the film, I would chant ‘It’s mine, it’s mine’. (Laughs)
Every time Adi would call me to his office, I would go in hoping and praying that it was for Yashji’s film. One time, he actually called me only to tell me about something that I had done that he didn’t like and I went home really disheartened. Then he offered me a role in Bachna Ae Haseeno which I accepted but the role was edited out even before the shooting started. Then came New York and the rest of the films. When I was finally offered Jab Tak Hai Jaan, it was a big day for me.
Was the experience everything you had hoped for?
It was. More than anything else, what I have taken away from the film was his personality. He was such a warm person. Once he casts you in his film, you really became a part of his family. He really cared about what you were doing and your mood.
He was very instinctive as a director. He never had a definite way to see a scene or a shot. He never told us to do things because that’s how he imagined the scene in his head. He directed with his heart and not his head. As long as the basic emotion of the scene was correct, little technical glitches didn’t bother him.
How do you look back at Yashji’s legacy?
For me, it would be his perception and understanding of different types of human relationships. His films didn’t judge anyone. Even an extramarital affair was treated with so much fairness. There is no ‘this is right and this is wrong’ in his films. He had a lot of love and respect for everyone, which is why he was interested in exploring different kinds of love.
This was your first time working with Shah Rukh...
Yeah. The most impactful thing that you take away from working with him is the kind of care he has for his co-star’s performance. A lot of actors would give their shot and go their separate ways. He would stick around after a shot, give advice on how it could be improved or even help to get a better take. His input is a lot compared to others. If you see all of Shah Rukh’s films, the girls are never ornamental. That was the one similarity I found between him and Yashji. They have a lot of respect for women.
I was a little intimidated when we started working because I didn’t know Shah Rukh at all. I had never socialised much with him at parties. But we got to a comfortable space by the time the film was completed.
How was it working with Anushka Sharma?
My rule about anybody — director, actor or actress — is that I judge them based only on how they behave with me.... I like the person she is. We gelled... it wasn’t awkward or forced. Even now when we are doing interviews, we gang up against Shah Rukh and pull his leg. He gets very hassled because he is not used to people doing that to him. (Laughs)
Boom released in 2003, so next year you’ll complete a decade in the industry...
Is it?! I don’t think so because my first Hindi film was Sarkar that released in 2005. Boom was an English movie. So, I have three years more to complete a decade. (Laughs)
But you will complete a decade of living under the spotlight...
You are right. It’s been a long time and at the same time it feels just like yesterday when I moved to Mumbai for the first time. There are so many more things I want to do. Some people are very experimental very early in their careers and they do different kinds of roles. I still have a lot more to experiment....
Now it feels like a haze to me. I have spent almost every single day on a set, whether it’s a film, ad film or a show. I have had some really good times and some tough times. It’s been a tumultuous journey.... We have such a fast lifestyle in the industry; everything changes so quickly. It’s a tricky place. But I feel I have been very fortunate. I think I have had just two films that haven’t worked at the box office in all these years. I feel really blessed. I have got more than I could have ever expected. I came in at 17 and who could have predicted that I’d be where I am today. I have had to work against so many odds.
At some level, do you feel vindicated with Jab Tak Hai Jaan because the critics were very harsh with you?
Everyone is entitled to his or her opinion. The critics who are unhappy with me may continue to be so. I will do what I have to, to the best of my abilities and hope that audiences continue to accept me and encourage me to work harder.
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