Their chemistry, both on-screen & off-screen always manges to makes headlines, and now with their film ‘Ek Tha Tiger’ ready for release on Independence Day, we caught up with Salman Khan and Katrina Kaif for a 1:1 chat, and the two seemed to be at their candid best talking about their upcoming film – its making and lots more. Read on for their Personal Interview for ‘Ek Tha Tiger’:
Who is Tiger?
Salman: Tiger is a man who considers his job as a hobby. But he is very honest. He can do anything for his job. He can even give his life in order to fulfil the orders given to him. Also, love plays a very important role in his life. So, this is Tiger. However, let me assure you that he is, by no means, a bore. He is ready to adapt to different situations if his job demands. He turns a writer & at times, a fighter. Basically, there’s an unpredictable character within all these predictabilities.
Katrina: Tiger thinks he knows himself very well but doesn’t. He can do anything for his job or his country. But he also has the ability to love someone which surprises even Tiger. And I think that is one of his greatest traits.
Salman: I also want to clear one thing that is this is not a patriotic film. This character loves his job, tries to accomplish it, holds a post in his country yet this is an out & out commercial film. There is love without any negative motive. However, it is our duties, our rights which eventually turn out to be our biggest enemies. One opines that duty comes before love, while some belief ki duty apni jagah hai, pyaar apni jagah.
Now, let’s go back in time. Your father & Yash Chopra share a proud history. And now, the second generation, you & Adi, have taken the legacy forward. So, how was the experience working with the YRF camp?
Salman: My dad was very happy when I signed the film. However, he also told me that he has had an amazing professional relationship with the YRF camp & advised me that I should give all I can so that they have a wonderful experience working with me. And in the YRF camp, everyone is very sensible. Aditya Chopra understands the making of commercial cinema but he doesn’t prefer the larger than life approach in his filmmaking. Kabir is very logical. Whereas, I, on the other hand, am very commercial. In fact, at times, I tend to go overboard. And there were times when I had to tone down a bit. Also, there were times when I had to pick Adi & Kabit to my level. And eventually, we did reach the balance level.
Katrina: Aditya Chopra & Salman have different approaches to filmmaking. And I think that is the most interesting thing about both of them coming together for “ETT”. We had the sensibilities of Kabir & Salman for the film. Also, Salman is very correct about his films when it comes to emotions. And when you are emotionally correct, the film can never go wrong. Whereas Aditya, on the other hand, is a mix of both Kabir & Salman. And I think, it will be very interesting for the audience to see all three minds come together in this film.
What is the difference in working with Katrina since you last worked with her?
Salman: Oh, it’s great! I’m working with her after a really long time & it’s good to see her work so hard. No doubt, she’s been a hardworking girl always but it’s nice to see her work so hard still. I also think she is growing with each & every film she does.
And what about dancing in “Mashallah”?
Salman: Someone recently said, “Salman looks stiff in this song?” But let me clear it that it was a deliberate thing. I mean, Tiger is an agent. So, when he dances, it’ll have to be manly. That’s what I’ve tried. There has to be a difference. Earlier, it was a belief that tough men don’t dance. But now, the perception has changed. Now, tough men dance but they do so with class. And obviously, if I do a flip on my head, it’ll be very difficult for kids to follow. That is also one reason why I don’t do that type of dance.
Katrina, what would you like to say about Salman? I mean, you work so hard &…….
Salman: I don’t work hard at all. (Laughs)
Katrina: See, Salman has already explained everything. But anyways, you can’t compare two individuals. There is a reason why Salman is Salman. Audience love him for what he is. I prefer to rehearse the steps but Salman does it right away. And to match up to Salman’s style, I had to rehearse a lot as people will love him as he is but I have to be more technically correct.
And what about the experience of shooting in four different countries?
Katrina: It was interesting. We started shooting in Dublin, Ireland. Let me tell you something more interesting, Salman has this thing; he can find India in any country of the world. So, for him, Dublin was Bandra; Cuba was Marine Drive & Turkey was Rajasthan. So, when he said we need to do some patchwork in Dublin, I said, “Oh, it can easily be done in Bandra Kurla Complex or Hiranandani Complex.”
Salman: But interestingly, Cuba is, in many ways, similar to Colaba. Be it the architecture or the cleanliness. Even the by-lanes are the same. Unfortunately though, the weather wasn’t good. So, we didn’t go in the boat. But after some time, we found a beautiful location. We shot the song “Laapata” there.
Do you remember any interesting experience while your stay in Dublin?
Salman: The only thing I remember is that every place we went to was damn cold. And in that extreme weather, I had to run & jump. On-screen, it looks great but for me, it was no fun at all. When I go to Dublin, I would like to go there to enjoy. Not to run on a tram & then, jump from it. (Laughs) Istanbul is considered to be a party place but the same thing happened there too.
Katrina: (Smiling) That’s filmmaking.
Salman: You go to beautiful places to have fun. Dublin was cold but Istanbul was colder. After that, we went to Antalya. Now, it was supposed to be warm. It was warm for two days & by the third day, we were back in our jackets. Same thing happened in Mardin. Mardin too, was supposed to be warm. Log keh rahe the paseena aayega. But what happened? It was colder than Turkey. In fact, it was so cold, one couldn’t open his mouth. After that, we left for Cuba. Weather there, was good. However, after a few days, even Cuba turned cold. But it wasn’t that bad. It’s a beautiful place. We did some fantastic work there. But all these are fabulous tourist destinations. You go there with family or our girlfriend & you’ll enjoy. People there are very warm & hospitable. So, yes, I would love to go back but to enjoy & definitely not for shooting.
You play a RAW agent in the film. A one-man army who destroys anything that comes in his way. It requires extremely good action. Can you tell us something about it?
Katrina: Action is the soul of “ETT”. Also, Kabir wanted a very real style of action not the one in which you see the hero flying across the room. He wanted the action sequence to be such that those seeing it can believe that, “Yes, this can be done by a trained RAW agent.” So, it will be interesting to see Salman do such action. For me, there were not many action scenes. I just had these two sequences. But nonetheless, it was fun performing them. Also, there were scenes which I wasn’t allowed to do as they were very dangerous.
Salman: I completely agree with what Katrina just said. This is a different kind of action. There is lot more running involved. Lot more jumping. Basically, things which a trained RAW agent can perform. So, it was important to stay fit as the sequences were rigorous. And like I said before, it looks very easy but at the same time, very difficult for the actor to perform as there is lots of running, lots of jumping, lots of falling & lots of action.
And what do you have to say about the action director Conrad Palmisano’s stunts?
Salman: Well, Conrad is a renowned Hollywood action director. He has worked with stars like Sylvester Stallone, Jet Li & many more. However, he is a very chilled-out guy. He knows a lot; he is skilled & also safe. Everything was so risky but Conrad made it so safe. In fact, when you see it on-screen, you realise that anything could have gone wrong. But by the grace of God, everybody is fine. No one was injured. He has a strong vision & possesses the technical brilliance to go along with it. And once you know that the scene will looks so good on-screen, you prefer to give it a shot even though it may be a risky affair.
Now, tell us something about the song “Banjaara”.
Salman: “Banjaara” is a song which has a very good tempo. It also has a Celtic piece which is very soothing & also foot-tapping, at the same time. Also, when you want to test the effectiveness of a song, observe what effect it has on those close to it. For example, in Dublin, when we were shooting this song, all the foreigners who don’t even know Hindi were chanting “Banjaara… Banjaara…..” That is the time we realised that the song was a hit.
Katrina: “Banjaara”, as Salman says, is indeed a foot-tapping song. But I think it is more of a Salman song. So, if I were to be asked, I would prefer “Mashallah” over “Banjaar” as I could participate more.
While watching the video of “Banjaara”, one can experience fun with the entire Carnival thing happening. Was it actually fun doing it?
Salman: Oh, yes! Shooting for songs is always fun. What is more interesting is the feeling that when you arrive on the set & the choreographer shows you the steps. And you say to yourself, “Ye to do-teen hafte mein hoga…” Then you request him to show it once more. And then, once again. And then, over & over again till it actually happens. And when this pressure emerges, the concentration level rises. Also, when you see unit members, who can do those steps easily, you feel that they are thinking, “Ye ek akela idiot hai”. They have this expression on their faces. And for this reason too, we need to pick up those steps quickly. But the problem is ours because it is we who don’t rehearse the steps like Katrina does. However, I also have a reason for that too, when you’re doing a film like “ETT”, you need to go home & stay fit. Do cardio for at least an hour. (Smiles)
And what about “Laapata”?
Katrina: “Laapata” is a romantic number which shows two people, who are madly in love, enjoy the feel of love. The highlight of the song, however, is that it has been shot without any lip sync. Also, Salman loves to do romantic numbers. He enjoys those spontaneous moments & also does lots of improvisations. He is very good at that.
Salman: Another way to look at it is that the song is apt considering the situation of the film. At times, songs don’t turn out to be a hit at the audio level but when you see it in the film, it sounds perfect. And obviously, when you get beautiful locations to supplement it, it adds beauty to the song. And when you have a beautiful co-star, a competent choreographer & such a big banner, it only adds to the glory of it.
And what would you like to say about the song “Mashallah” & Sajid-Wajid’s music?
Salman: Sajid-Wajid’s work is brilliant. Especially, the songs they’ve done for me. Many of their songs which have been picturised on me are big hits.
Katrina: In “Mashallah”, Vaibhavi wanted to keep the local elements from the film. A bit of Arabic; a bit of Moroccan. If you observe Salman’s character, he has this Turkish ‘Keffiyeh’ look. I remember before shooting the song, I rehearsed for four consecutive days with the male dancer who was playing Salman’s part & a night before the shooting, I fell ill & couldn’t shoot for two more days. And by the time, I returned on the set, I had missed two days of rehearsal & was very nervous. And while shooting, I realised, that some of the steps with Salman had been changed because Salman improvises a lot.
Salman: Even I remember the days when we were shooting this song & she suddenly fell ill. I even thought, “Kahin ye ‘Mashallah’ gaana jaanlevaa naa ho jaaye.” But she carried on amidst all the sand & dust. Had there been some other heroine in her place, she would have easily collapsed. She fought with the virus for three days without any antibiotics. Also, when she returned on the set, it was evident that she wasn’t her 100 per cent. But her determination hadn’t deteriorated. I don’t know from where she gets this strength to just go on tirelessly. I remember, I was advising her not to do it but she insisted otherwise. And as she started getting involved in the song, even the virus got scared & ran away. It was outstanding. I salute her for this.
Katrina: And like I was saying, it was very, very hot & we were shooting on a helipad. It was much hotter there. But I think, all the hard work has paid off.
And what do you say about your DOP Aseem Mishra whom you have given the pet name of “Ultimo”?
Salman: Well, Aseem is not just a DOP or a cameraman, he is a magician. Take the same song “Mashallah” for example, even though Katrina was ill, look how beautiful she looks on-screen. Faces are beautiful but Aseem captures the beauty within. And more than Salman Khan playing “Tiger”, it is Aseem capturing “Tiger”. I don’t know from where he found this angle, but in one scene, my eyes look like an actual tiger’s. When I saw it, I was shocked. I couldn’t believe it was me.
And Katrina, this was your second film with Aseem? How was the experience?
Katrina: Aseem is a lovely & supportive guy. Also, his work is good. But I think what works well is that he understands Kabir’s vision. They have a great tuning & share the same school of thought. So, it’s very easy. I think, he has shot Salman the best way one can.
What can the audience expect when they go to watch the film on 15th August?
Salman: Whenever a member from the film talks about it, he only praises everyone. That’s because we have a great experience working for it. Same for us, we love this film. That is the reason why we made it. Be it the story, screenplay, dialogue or anything else; everything was great. But when it releases for the audience, we can’t control it. It is the audience’s call whether they buy the ticket or no. We want the audience to come out of the theatres & say, “Waah! Kya film banaayi hai?” And with this film, I believe, the audience will say this after watching it. I guarantee that everyone will like this film. The reason why I’m so confident is that this film has a different pace, different tempo. Everything is different. Music is good; there is romance, comedy, action. Everything that the audience like. It’s a responsible film. It has been shot the way it was written. It is a love story amidst complex situations. And I believe, as long as ther are no limitations in love, it is not a love story. So, this love story has limitations but no villain.
Katrina: I think, everyone who comes to see the film on 15th August will feel that they have experienced something very different. The film intrigues you. The story has suspense as well as the drama. And the way it has come out in the end, is really exciting. In fact, it has turned out to be better than we hoped for. So, now we hope that even the audience will feel the same & will be happy with the movie experience.
And finally, tell us something about your director Kabir Khan?
Salman: I first met Kabir through a common friend. He had a DVD along with him in which there were footages from Afghanistan. I saw them & came to know that, “Iss aadmi mein kuchh baat hai.” After that, Adi sent him to me with the script of “ETT” & I liked it. I’ve not seen “Kabul Express” nor have I seen “New York”. I have only seen the rushes of the film which aired on TV channels. But I have seen his work on the DVD. And it was that experience which told me that whenever this guy makes a film, it will be a great one. What I was looking forward to was the journey of filmmaking. But as we staretd interacting, we also started understanding each other. He is a well cultured, sensible & mature man. He is young, cool & has all the good qualities. He also possesses a good sense of humor. He is a good writer; good director. People used to say, “Kabir Khan makes logical films.” This scared me a lot. But I guess he is coming on the right track now. (Laughs)