In a chat with indianexpress.com days ahead of Zero’s release, Katrina Kaif dwelt on what fascinated her about Babita Kumari, what keeps her sane when faced with rejections and why she is comfortable struggling to prove herself as an actor even after 13 years.
“Aanand (Zero director Aanand L Rai) sir was very clear with me. On the second day of the shoot, he came to my van and told me, ‘If Katrina is going to react in one way, Babita is going to do the exact opposite’,” Katrina said, sharing the journey she and Rai undertook to create the role of an “emotionally incomplete” film star.
Katrina Kaif said it was very important for her to understand at which level Rai wanted her to pitch Babita Kumari.
“Because sometimes you rely on your instincts. What you think you would have done in a situation, you kind of transfer to the character. So, if there is someone I want to avoid at a party, I will stay far away. I will not disturb their space. I will not want them to disturb my space. I will keep a dignified distance. Babita would do the opposite. Because she is awkward, she will confront that,” the actor said.
For Katrina, whose behaviour, at least, in public is measured, to play a character who projects her feelings on others, was a fascinating experience.
“Babita will be obnoxious and aggressive which I think is a fascinating way to be because a lot of our nature is to hide and pull away from what scares us. That in itself is also another escapism. You are aggressive because you don’t know how to deal with that feeling. She is going through a lot of anger, insecurity and she is feeling dejected and she does not need to deal with that. Me as a person, probably what I will do is exactly opposite. I will do nothing, and I will stay quiet. I will not show and you will not know. Babita is a kind of person who will come and cause trouble. She will do things for effect. That’s her way of dealing with it but I think it makes for an interesting character,” Katrina Kaif said.
And the actor believes that such characters, however messed up they are emotionally, are cheered on by the audience because of their fighting spirit.
“People like to see characters that are fighting. Not characters who are lying down, feeling sorry for themselves that ‘Oh! My heart’s broken. Damn! I am feeling sorry for myself and you also feel sorry for me.’ That’s one way to be. The other way is you are fighting. You are fighting yourself because you don’t want to feel that way. So, it’s not that Babita is only fighting with other people. I think it’s a battle within herself that ‘No, I don’t want to feel like this. I don’t want anyone else to make me feel so bad about it.'”
Katrina Kaif, however, has no escape route to deal with insecurities in her own life. Having gone through the highest of highs and the lowest of lows in both her professional and personal life in the last few years, the actor now faces every emotion head on.
“I don’t try to escape. I try to face whatever I am feeling, understand it and make friends with it. I don’t run away from it, nor deny it. I make friends with it. First, be very comfortable with it, accept that it has happened and then try to find a solution. Sometimes you don’t find it. But I try,” she said.
With the same sense of realism, she acknowledges that Katrina Kaif – the actor still has a long way to catch up with Katrina Kaif – the star.
The actor said, “I hope I am still struggling to prove myself as a performer because if you are still proving yourself that means the audience is still with you on that journey to watch you do something. They are with you to see that ‘It will happen now.’ That’s good because if you have reached somewhere, then you have reached. There is no other place to go. So, I feel that’s good.”
Coming back to Zero, which releases on December 21, it’s not only her character that got Katrina interested in the film, but also the maiden combination of Aanand L Rai and Shah Rukh Khan.
While this is the first time Katrina worked with Rai, she earlier worked with SRK in late Yash Chopra’s romance Jab Tak Hai Jaan.
“Aanand L Rai is one of the few directors, I have seen all the films of. I have been in touch with him since his first movie. His most unique trait is that he is in touch with pan-India audience. He is not a metro-centric filmmaker. He has a very strong emotional core in all his films and his women characters are very strong. They are never incidental. They are never one dimensional,” Katrina Kaif said.
As for her co-star Shah Rukh Khan, the actor said SRK is conscious of the fact that women in his films get their due, which reflects in the kind of characters that female actors play in his projects.
“I do believe that because Shah Rukh in his approach with women and his female co-stars is all about making you better and as good as you can be. He wants his female co-stars to shine. He wants them to be strong. I do feel that it does in the end. It does add to the fact that you very rarely see an insipid, incidental character in a Shah Rukh Khan film. It’s rare. Most of the female characters in his films are well-defined and most of the women in his films also get appreciated,” Katrina said.