'I have had ups and downs and whenever I was low I always remember my mom's words.'
After the conversation was rescheduled thrice, Katrina Kaif finally granted us an interview ahead of Zero's release.
As Urvi Parikh listens, Katrina shares her journey of working on Zero, her equation with Shah Rukh Khan, and what she now hopes to achieve in her career.
You last worked with Shah Rukh Khan in Jab Tak Hai Jaan. What has changed?
I am not sure if I am the right person to answer that question. I mean, his experience in the film industry is so extensive that I don't think that I am the right person to answer that.
Aanand sir (Zero Director Aanand L Rai) would be better to answer that question. As a person he (SRK) still shares the same exuberance, enthusiasm and passion for his work, which is amazing because he had a long time.
He always has the desire to try something new. Nobody can predict how Zero will do, but he wanted to produce something that has not been seen before in Indian cinema. He wanted that quality of work and wanted everything to look on par with international films. Because it's a visual heavy film, he focused more on the quality of his work.
Shah Rukh plays a dwarf. And you are very tall. During the shoot, were there any funny moments between the two of you?
Funny no, because Shah Rukh and my scenes are not funny. They are very intense. And he is on a platform so that doesn't seem funny. It's very technical and you all feel very high tech about it.
There is a physical moment between us, but it seems like two small boys fighting so that is a little awkward.
Shah Rukh gave a lot of encouragement and support to me in every scene. Sometimes we would just sit and talk because you need to be in your mindset also.
Babita Kumari is an emotionally challenged person. How was it playing the character?
What Aanand sir wants to say in the film is that things are often not what they seem on the outside.
Probably, from an outsider's perspective, one could see Anushka's character has an obstacle to overcome, a physical disability which is in some way a burden for her.
The other is a vertically challenged person who is not treated with respect which he would like to have and what he feels he should have.
Then you have an opposite character, a movie star who is loved by millions, but yet can't find a completion that she herself is enough for someone to love her.
I think that it is common in humans in general. Deep down inside, a lot of people feel that they are slightly incomplete. This threat comes from inside of us, that is what Aanand sir is trying to say in the film.
Shah Rukh's character does not let his height become an obstacle for him. In his head he is as good as any other movie star. He thinks he is God's gift to the world.
So it all depends on how we let our weaknesses control our lives.
Did you find any similarity in your life with your character in Zero?
Not at all. As human beings, we all go through the same emotions, so whether I play a mass murderer, doctor or an actress, the emotions are the same.
The beats are similar. You feel vulnerable, threatened, insecure, lonely, happy and exuberant.
The character of Babita Kumari is very different from me. That was something that made me go on this journey with Aanand sir.
I actually did not want to do the character, but Aanand sir told me you are not seeing what I am seeing.
It was about the person he wanted to create, not just an actress with pain like I thought it was. So that person which he wanted to create was very intense training for me.
We went on that training together. I did not want to go through it as I was happy in my own life because the character was deeply in pain and is upset and insecure but is not showing it.
So that is what I liked -- if the character works in the movie, to me that would be my biggest strength as people will relate to its vulnerabilities and also to how she tries to cover them up.
As human beings, we tend to not display the true emotion that we are feeling, that is what to me makes an interesting character on screen.
I don't think we like to see people to feel pity or ask for sympathy. We like to see characters who are fighting for themselves in any situation, whatever it is.
How was it working with Aanand L Rai?
The one thing which is different and the best thing about him is that he doesn't let you feel the work that he is doing with you.
If it is a big heavy scene he will just come and sit in the van and chat for a bit, then he would tell you to 'push yourself to the mark'.
He will make you feel very comfortable and not under pressure. So you come there (tp the set) with ease and not with tension.
To play an emotionally incomplete person is the most difficult thing.
Was there a process that you followed to bring out your emotions?
I had a few reference points, but the method or the approach which I try and find a lot of times in my films is that I have gone with the instinct and with the director's vision.
I felt I had very strong instincts which worked for me.
Now as time has passed, I have also tried to analyse and learn a little bit more about making movies, creating characters and storytelling.
I have started to find what works more is understanding the mindset of the character.
Understand what are her fears, where is she coming from, what does she want, what is her personality like and what kind of mindet this person has, then whatever you are given to do, it becomes more true and real rather than just being an act.
What is that one thing you took back from Zero?
Sometimes I think it can be beneficial in process of leaving things behind you and letting things go to say what you feel.
My nature is such that I cannot say something that I want to say for five years. Something that puts me in a vulnerable position, I won't do it.
There are some good sides to it which is why I avoid confrontation.
I can be around everyone, no matter what my equation with you is. Even if they start the conversation, then also I will be silent, I will not confront.
Because I don't want to expose what I feel. It makes one vulnerable and makes you open for acceptance or rejection.
So that is something I hope to change because sometimes in life you should see things that you feel, speak your heart and then move on.
That is what I like about the character Babita in Zero because she says that.
She is getting it out there. There's nothing left inside and that's important.
Holding things inside like anger, bitterness and resentment is the worst thing that a human could do.
When you came into this industry, what were the expectations that you had? And have you surpassed them?
I had different goals and dreams that I wanted to achieve at different stages of life. Different goals are priority to me at different times.
First, when I came into the industry I wanted to be a really successful model which I achieved.
I wanted to be in the movies and what I thought was what I could do and what I could learn from these movies.
I always wanted people to know me. I wanted fame. I think that's what you want when you were young.
So that phase was Singh is King, Welcome and many more.
After that, I wanted to enjoy the characters that I am doing. I wanted to play different things.
Later, I went on to a different direction where there was dance, songs and glamour like Dhoom 3, big scale films.
Some choices were conscious and some just happened in the flow of things which you don't realise.
Now I think I am in a place where I have taken a step back.
I want to enjoy myself at work -- feeling good, happy and creatively satisfied that I am learning something and that I am doing something on my film sets.
I have had ups and downs and whenever I was low I always remember my mom's words. She said, 'You are not the only one, there are many people who are going through this.'
A lot of people think Raajneeti was the turning point in your career. Do you agree?
No. I think Namastey London was a big turning point for me. I remember a big actress turned down the movie, that's why it came to me. And it was amazing to work with Akshay Kumar.
You went through a tough phase emotionally recently. What kept you going?
Something that my mom said: 'Whatever it is that you think you are going through, you have to realise how many other people are going through the same thing because you are so consumed in our own problems.'
So that is in my head. It made me feel like I am not the only person that feels like this. Then you don't feel alone.
Your sister Isabelle is all set to debut in Bollywood. Did you give her any advice?
Yes, I have. I am emotionally attached to her and close to her.
It's tough. The world has changed since I came into the film industry. Now we are in a digital age. We roamed freely, but now we can't. It was a different time and era.
The only thing that really matters is what you do between 'action' and 'cut'. Everything else is the garnishing on the cake.
First, bake the cake. What matters is the work that all actors do, not anything else.