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“Bharat is the best film Ali Abbas Zafar and I have worked on together” – Katrina Kaif

She has been working in the Hindi film industry for more than fifteen years now and has delivered successes quite consistently. Katrina Kaif has maintained her position as one of the biggest female actors in the industry for several years and continues to be a part of some of the biggest films made in a year. In this interview, she talks about ‘Bharat’, her equation with director Ali Abbas Zafar, replacing Priyanka Chopra Jonas in the film, evolving as an actress and turning into a producer.

You worked with Ali Abbas Zafar in his first film ‘Mere Brother Ki Dulhan’ and more recently in ‘Tiger Zinda Hai’. How has your equation evolved with him in all these years?
The first time I met Ali, I told my manager I hate this boy and if he talks to me like that again. I met Ali when he was working as an assistant director on ‘New York’. We were shooting in New York and I wanted to go to Mumbai for some work. I told him I will be back in two days and he told me very sternly ‘no, you cannot go’. We started off on a very bad note but slowly, I realised he had his heart in his tight place and is a very hard-working person. He sent me the script of ‘Mere Brother Ki Dulhan’ when I was shooting for ‘Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara’. I asked him if he was ready to direct and he told me confidently that he was. He had written the script keeping me in mind. Dimple, the character I played in the film, was similar to the kind of person he had found me to be and not the serious person a lot of people perceive me to be. When he told me he was writing a sequel to ‘Tiger Zinda Hai’, I wondered why he was doing that. When he shared the idea with me, I realised ‘Ek Tha Tiger’ was actually the most ‘sequel-worthy’ film to have been produced by Yash Raj Films. I loved the way he took Zoya’s character forward. He made her an active participant in the proceedings of the film, including the action sequences. I think ‘Bharat’ is the best film Ali and I have worked on together.

Priyanka Chopra Jonas was the original choice for the role you have played in the film.
Ali was certain that I would not be playing the role of Kumud as he just could not see me as the character. When Zoya was writing the character of Laila in ‘Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara’, she had me in mind as she could see some similarities between Laila and me but with Kumud, there were no such similarities as such. I have tried my best to do justice to playing the character the way Ali wanted me to. Kumud is a modern, self-made woman in the 70s which is very rare. At the same time, she is feminine and wanting to get married and have children. I liked that balance. At one point in the film, she becomes a news reader. The challenge was to make this character believable. We had some specific references in mind for the role.

What is the difference you see in the way you approached your work five years back and now?
Today, I put a lot more effort in understanding my character. If I spent hundred hours shooting for the film, I spent fifty hours preparing for it. Now, I make a conscious effort to pick characters that challenge me as an actor.

You are turning producer now. Reportedly, you are interested in producing the remake of a French film.
I was interested in remaking the French film for a long time but I am not sure if it will happen now. There are a couple of interesting ideas which have come to me by different people. There are a few discussions happening and hopefully, there will be an announcement towards the end of the year.

Will you be acting in the films you will be producing?
If I am required to, why not?

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