Katrina Kaif on replacing Priyanka Chopra in Bharat: People tend to personalise my pairing with Salman Khan

Seema Sinha

Jun 01, 2019 10:03:15 IST

Katrina Kaif is facing the biggest challenge of her career yet. Just staging her comeback with Tiger Zinda Hai after a self-imposed two year exile, she suffered two terrible back-to-back blows last year. Both, Zero and Thugs of Hindostan tanked in quick succession and slowed down the recovery process of her career. She now needs a big hit and is counting on Bharat with Salman Khan, her co-star from her last blockbuster Tiger Zinda Hai (TZH). “I’m both, nervous and excited. So far, the response has been fantastic but the real test is going to be the release, that is the judgement day,” she says. Bharat is scheduled to release on Eid, 5 June.

Katrina was roped in for Bharat soon after Priyanka Chopra opted out of it, and Katrina has repeatedly clarified that her casting has got nothing to do with her personal relation with Salman. “People tend to personalise a lot when it comes to my pairing with Salman. The honest truth is that after Tiger Zinda Hai released, the next time I met Salman was on the sets of Bharat at Yashraj studio where he was shooting a sequence, and when I entered the set he just said, ‘Katrina, what’s up?’ It was nothing like, ‘Oh, wow! you are in the film!' Nothing like that happened. Salman is Salman..the way he is with you, he is the same in front of us also. He knew that it wasn’t possible for Priyanka to do the film and since Ali (Abbas Zafar, Director) has that comfort level with me, Salman left it to him. It was very important for me to know that it was going as per the director’s vision. I don’t think Salman had any take on it,” said Katrina.

Katrina Kaif on replacing Priyanka Chopra in Bharat: People tend to personalise my pairing with Salman Khan

Salman Khan and Katrina Kaif in a still from Bharat

Katrina says she has had a very interesting journey with Ali. "The first time I met Ali was on the sets of New York which was Kabir Khan's first film as a director and Ali was the first AD," she says. And out of the three films that Katrina has worked with Ali – Mere Brother Ki Dulhan (2011), Tiger Zinda Hai and Bharat, she feels Bharat is her best. “If I had to choose one, it has to be Bharat. My character Kumud Raina that he has written so far is the best,” she says.

The film was first offered to Priyanka, and so the character was naturally written without keeping Katrina in mind. “Well, that was a blessing in disguise for me. Ali will not admit it but he told me that he didn’t write this role for anyone in particular. It just happened that he went to Priyanka because we had just finished Tiger (TZH) and he felt that casting Salman and me again will be too close. Because the character was not written for anyone in particular, he was quite certain that it wasn’t going to be me. Hence, that character became something very different. When Zoya (Akhtar) wrote Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara, somewhere at the back of their mind they already knew who they wanted. For this film, I wasn’t there in the director’s mind and that for me, is a big blessing. It gave me something super challenging, something I haven’t done before,” explains Katrina.

Katrina said that she as well as the team have tried very hard to make her character look believable and relatable by making very specific references. “She is a very modern, independent, self-made strong woman of the 1970s which is even more unusual. That kind of a woman fighting in a man’s world and yet be feminine, yet wanting to get married, have children...I liked that balance. At one point, my character is shown as a newsreader, and for that I have drawn references from some of the Doordarshan newsreaders like Salma Sultan and Sheila Chaman who were quite dignified and conservative in the way they dressed and read the news. We have retained such small details in the film,” she says.

Zero may have failed to impress audiences but Katrina’s performance grabbed a lot of attention. She said she was surprised because she had garnered praise right at the start of her career for films like Namastey London, New York, Ajab Prem Ki Ghazab Kahaani and Raajneeti. “People forgot about all that and now that they are remembering it, it seems all new. That gives me longevity as an actor. It gives me an opportunity and confidence with directors, filmmakers to try new things with me. They get the confidence that I am now interested in pulling off roles like these, so they are willing to create those characters (for me),” says the actress.

Katrina is known to be one of the best dancers in the Hindi film industry. However, she says it is the character which now attracts her. "When I started out as an actor here, I would watch Madhuri and Aishwarya’s films and could see that joy on their face when they danced and that was my ambition. But now I have done all that, I did lots of it, I tried many different ways, many different versions and variations. Now I find my enjoyment and fulfilment in the character,” she further says.

And when Ali told Katrina that there was only one song in Bharat where she would have to shake her leg, she got a bit upset. “I told him I don’t want to dance because there was no need to and I was so happy about that. I was having this conversation with him and he explained to me saying that it was a shaadi song (referring to the 'Aithey Aa' number), a situational song and that too, a funny one. Finally, he convinced me saying that we were not going away from the character. She would still maintain that ‘Madam Sir’ kind of demeanour,” said Katrina.

Katrina’s next is Rohit Shetty’s cop drama Sooryavanshi with Akshay Kumar, who has been her co-star in Namastey London, Singh Is Kinng and Welcome. “We were together on set after so many years but immediately after we gave our first shot, we were right back where we left off. Akshay is so wonderful to work with,” said Katrina. “Now I would like to go for roles that attract me to who I am today. I want to do what challenges me and what I have not done before. If I feel something is nice but repetitive, why would I do it? I will get bored,” she concludes.

Updated Date: Jun 01, 2019 13:00:00 IST