When you meet Katrina Kaif, you don't tend to go speechless. Your speech starts to have problems. At 11am, I am scheduled to meet her. I arrive on time. She doesn't. Not to worry. It's 11.30am. She arrives and the first thing she does is apologises. That's something of a worry. What do I say? That's when you go speechless. Then after looking at her for half an hour in a closed room you start getting speech attacks. Instead of David Cameron, the next British Prime Minister, you say 'James Cameron'. Then you remind her that she has acted in more than one film with Ranbir Kapoor and she reminds you back that she has acted in only one. That is exactly what happens when you are face to face with this beauty that cannot be described in words, poetry and art. Kaif could have had little idea quite how much it would change her life when she entered the Indian Film Industry and the rest of us, like me, when we actually see her in flesh. Katrina walks in without a smile. She has a bad headache with things not going her way. Too many deadlines and commitments and too little time she tells me. She orders for her favourite green tea. Sips it and then sits on the couch. Then she takes the remote control of the air conditioner and switches it off. Then after a few minutes, on again. This continues throughout our chat. Call her 'lucky' and she accepts it, ask her about speaking in Hindi, and she doesn't. Kaif is very much like a Maggie noodle. In two minutes she will sell you completely, except, that she just cannot be bought. This correspondent gets into the hot seat for a hot chat over some hot black coffee to the hot lady - Katrina Kaif. Caution - The contents are hot!
Lucky for the Indian Film Industry?
Do I hate when people and the critics and the media call me 'lucky'? No. I love it. It's better than them saying that we don't like Katrina Kaif in a film. Imagine the day when people would've been saying that she is unlucky for films. I think I should count my blessings and see it on a positive side that 'lucky' is a word but there can also be a better word to describe me (laughs).
Language - A barrier?
All languages make you grow as a person. I've travelled so much extensively throughout my whole life. It's not that I came from England to India. I was born in Hong Kong, and then went to Japan, China, France, etc. Before I was even twelve years old, I've travelled sixteen countries. The more you see in life, the more aware you become and make you the person who you are. From my experiences, all my flashback is coming back to me now. I'm more confident and understanding the Hindi language and its importance. When you come to a cinema to see my films, you give me respect but when I don't speak in Hindi, the same people think that she is acting pricey.
Katrina Kaif - A re-defining moment
(Laughs) I don't want to be re-defined. I don't know how to say this without sounding wrong. If I say I want to re-define myself, then that would mean I am not giving respect on the appropriate amount of recognition and gratitude to every person in this country and the NRIs in England who see Hindi movies and who've made me successful. I cannot deny the fact that the Hindi Film Industry has supported me and is supporting me. But mainly, it is my audiences which gave me an overwhelming support. Audience acceptance came quite before I got my industry acceptance.
Opinions - Audiences - Ideas
Critics have to have their opinion because it is their job. If they don't have an opinion, they can't be a critic. And I am not saying that they should have a 'wrong' opinion. They must have one. I go to see a Ridley Scott movie called Body of Lies with my friends and we all had an opinion on the movie. This is a movie which is made by one of the most talented filmmakers in the world and which stars Academy Award winning actors, and guess what? We still have opinions. That's bad. Just like that people have an opinion on me; I too want to re-invent myself as an actor and as a person but without being stagnant. As a person, I think my attention span is like hell. I constantly need to do new things. I cannot sit at one place. If I sit and do the same kind of roles I'll start to go insane. I'll soon become restless and frustrated. I have so many thoughts and ideas in my head that I just want to be a part of different kind of films.
Prakash Jha - the soul searcher
Your experiences, what you've done and where you have lived, etc. that is what makes you the person you are and you may not even realise it. Prakash Jha has so much soul into the ideology of India, that all his films have that rooted Indian flavour. That is where he comes from. He comes from a grass root level. He comes from a very intellectual circle. He comes from this world of politics. Not politics where you are sitting in the Lok Sabha. He comes from the local constituencies. He knows them because he has been there. He knows the North India inside out. He knows the Indian political system and that's what his movies reflect - the kind of person he is. He knows the grass root levels to the top level. Raajneeti is Prakash Jha's most complete film.
Anees Bazmee v/s Dibakar Banerjee v/s Anurag Kashyap
Your movies are going to reflect what you want to portray. And what you want to portray is what the knowledge you have. Anees Bazmee wants to make comedies and he knows that. In my opinion, to make a comic film isn't a joke. It's not easy at all. I have a sister who has dedicated the seven years of her life in doing something that interests her. She has been studying in the top Mathematics colleges of the world, The Imperial College and she is now going to be given a doctorate to do free of cost for her contribution to what she has given to the world in the field of Mathematics. She is three years younger to me and is going to be a Doctor in our family the next year. To her, I'm sure there are things which seem trivial because she is an intellectual. People can't say that I am uneducated but I definitely see the value of entertainment. Trust me, the country we live in, the kind of people who go to see our films; seventy percent of them are still illiterate. If that is so, and you are going to make a pseudo intellectual film, then only thirty percent of your audiences are going to see it. That's what people are doing and they are becoming successful in that capacity. Then I have films which I love, like Oye Lucky Lucky Oye. The maker, Dibakar Banerjee is a very good friend of mine. He discusses a lot of things with me and so is Anurag Kashyap. These are people who love making films for the thirty percent bracket audiences. But we cannot give any less respect to those who make films for the seventy percent audiences or doubt their talent.
I have seen Ranbir Kapoor's first film Saawariya. I loved him in Wake Up Sid which was again made for those thirty percent audiences. I think the ability to go both sides is a special trait that Ranbir has.
Raajneeti isn't for the seventy or the thirty percent. It is for the hundred percent audiences. There are very few films that are rooted into the culture of India. Raajneeti falls under that bracket and any film that showcases Indian culture will receive both the sides of the audiences. Prakashji has that reputation. His films are urban as much as they are rural.
Tough audience - U.K.
I think the U.K audiences are looking for films that are true to India because most of the people who are going to see Hindi films are the ones who really love India, who have lived in India for quite a bit - the N.R.Is. Those people tend to have an even stronger love and fondness for their country than some of those who reside in India. They always want to see their country and cinema being represented fairly and respectfully. When you start getting into slapstick genres or when you start to get into things which are too kitsch, is when I feel that it doesn't work or maybe when a film isn't a great film. Most of the films I've done with Akshay Kumar have been hugely successful in the U.K irrespective of their genres. In terms of Raajneeti, it's something that we'll have to wait and see because the film is very rural. I don't know whether it will cross over but I feel it will. I think the U.K. audiences will like to know what's going on behind the scenes of politics in India.
What I do in my life doesn't have any relation to politics or any politician. If it sounds very farcical and very politically correct, the only politician I look up to is Madam Sonia Gandhiji because she comes to India for love, she gets her husband brutally assassinated and then she fights the system by being a politician. She learnt the language of India and as a woman and a foreigner in India, she rose above the men. Men because I feel that India is a very male dominated country. It's beyond incredible what she has done for India and for their citizens. People can talk all the crap they want but to maintain that level of power and to have hold on to it, it takes an extraordinary amount of courage and confidence.
No to Politics
I don't watch television. You need to have a basic knowledge of what's going on in your country and who is running your country. Beyond that, whatever interests you, it then boils down to an individual. I don't think you need to watch any political debate or any active political programmes to understand the system and prepare for your role.
Draped in a Saree
I loved wearing the saree in Raajneeti. I think it is the most comfortable clothing you can wear. I am very good at draping it also. Those were the best days of my life when I was covered in a saree in Raajneeti, on and off the sets.