Speak to Katrina Kaif and you realise, it’s amazing the amount of clarity she has – be it her performaces, her growth or putting across her thoughts. She’s come a long way ever since she started out and has been garnering immense appreciation for her act in ‘Zero’. Just as the film hits the marquee, we catch up with the actress for a chat, where she describes the character’s emotional journey and more about her craft. Read on…

How is it teaming up with your ‘Jab Tak hai Jaan’ co-stars again with ‘Zero’?
It feels wonderful. Anushka and me don’t have many scenes together in the film. It was wonderful working again with Shah Rukh. Same passion, same knowledge, same incredible energy. I was actually thinking the other day that I would love to do a proper film with Anushka – an action film or something with two girls. It would be wonderful.

Since you play an actor, how much could you resonate with Babita’s character?
I think there are a lot of similarities with what Babita’s character is going through. Thankfully, I’m not battling with alcoholism (laughs), no that’s not something which works for me (laughs). But apart from that, it’s relatable in the sense of what people go through in general. I think, that’s what Anand Rai is trying to say – how three incomplete people, incomplete for different reasons (Bahua and Anushka have physical disabilities and Babita is dealing with an emotional disability), are feeling so peaceful in love. It’s the journey of three incomplete people trying to be on a path to be complete.

Was it challenging in the sense of the technical aspect of the film and the VFX needed? And the change in your approach accordingly.
I think the first day it felt different but then, because of the whole team and Red Chillies VFX and Shah Rukh, they were all conscious of never getting in the way or restricting you. They were supportive and conscious of that. We were never looking at the green screen which a lot of people have to do. They would build these pits where Shah Rukh would stand and I would stand at a lower platform so our eye-lines would match and that was correct. The dynamics change when you are talking to a character like Babita’s status or Baua’s status. That’s something you have to keep in mind – your character. You have to remember that it’s not Katrina talking to Shah Rukh – it’s Babita talking to Baua.

Has this been one of your most challenging roles?
It’s definitely been one of my most challenging. It’s definitely up on the top two. When the schedules would get over I would feel relieved, because when we were getting into the schedules, it would be hard for me. As human beings, all of us want to run away from pain, nobody that I know purposely gets into it unless they are on a self-destructive mode. In somewhere, that’s what Babita is doing in the film. She is a little bit on a self-destructive path. She is not ready to listen to anyone and she is just feeling the hurt she is feeling and that’s a low place. For anyone who plays characters like that, you have to draw from your own emotional memory, and your own bank of feelings. That’s what most actors do. The thing which is a balance and you have to keep learning is that you have to keep those emotions within the vision or lens of the character. If I go into the zone of Katrina as a person, then that’s wrong because the audience is seeing the character. There was one scene in the film, which was important. We shot the scene and I felt very good about it because I was all emotional by the end of it. I thought I did good. Anand sir called me ten days later and said, ‘Katrina I want to reshoot the scene’. I thought he was joking. I told him, ‘but sir that’s the best scene we’ve shot in the film’. He was like, ‘yes I know why you’re saying that. Because you felt that and I know you did, but that’s not how Babita would behave in the film. I felt sorry for the person, you indulged in the pain, you felt the pain, so you got carried away. But Babita is a person who would feel the pain and crack four jokes in that, pulling your leg and drinking. That’s a different pitch. So, I’m poles apart from what Babita is in the film. She is confrontational, she’s drinking very openly in the film, she says exactly what she feels on the person’s face. But that’s what makes her endearing as well, and very nice to watch. I think, people like to see people fight for themselves.

What have you learnt from Babita?
I think I’ve learnt that sometimes in life, you can say what you want, even if it makes you look stupid, or vulnerable or puts you in an awkward position; to just get it out of your chest. But by nature, I am the kind of person who doesn’t say anything. ‘I live with this feeling that see, I didn’t say anything. You’ll never know what I thought.’ I try to process it on my own, and manage it on my own. It’s my journey and my journey has nothing to do with anyone, especially if they are not in my life anymore. Sometimes I think, it’s okay to make yourself look stupid. Sometimes out of ego or fear you don’t want to say anything, and feel good, because that’s the one thing you have left.

“The greatest thing is to work with directors who have strong characters”

The movie talks about incompleteness – personally and professionally, do you feel complete?
Definitely not. I have a long way to go in that journey. Sometimes you feel that maybe I’ve found something or maybe I’ve figured it out but then something changes and you feel, you have nothing figured out. But that’s the journey of life until we really, truly find peace in your mind. It’s a journey of ups and downs. You feel all fine and in control, and suddenly you’re like what just happened, I’ve lost control. At one point you feel strong emotionally and then you feel like you have a mountain of sadness on your head. But all of us feel that, irrespective of the job we do. You just have to find your way around it and learn to cope with it – by spending time with yourself, spending time with your family, find balance. In my life, I feel, sometimes my balance goes off. Either I’m hundred percent in my life outside of work, and then I go hundred percent into work and neither is healthy – in both the cases, something will burn out.

At this point what are you the most happy about – the fact that you’re getting such challenging roles, or working with great directors?
I was just thinking that about two weeks back that where am I feeling happy or good? I’ve gone to bed happy and I’ve realised that the days when I’ve done something new, I’m learning something new, that’s when I’m happy. That’s important for me because I’m also a creature of comfort. I like my comfort zone, I like the zones I know. Sometimes you have something to do in that zone, sometimes you just feel safe in that net. But now I think, on its own it started happening that I myself started wanting to feel to go places where I can learn something new, I can experiment. I did that early on in my career and then I went into the phase of bigger, entertaining films – which also were amazing films. But I think the ideal thing is to have that mix and the greatest thing is to work with directors who have strong characters. Strong characters which I’ve not done before – when I can show something new to the audience who’ve been on this journey with me of 13-14 years.

15 years in the industry – that’s long! How has it been? Also, there’s clearly such a growth as a performer!
I think it’s just life experiences teach you to have slightly deeper feelings – your emotional quotient becomes deeper so you have access to that. Otherwise when you are young, you are just bouncy, birdy and cheery. So you lack a certain amount of depth. Also, may be it was just what I was focusing on at that time. I think a little bit of life experiences give you deeper things to draw from. Also, I think I’ve heard that after you do 15,000 hours of something regularly, you automatically you can claim to be knowledgeable in that area. For me it was on the job experience. At different times my focus was on different things. I the last few years I’ve tried, especially in the last year to be true, I’ve shifted my focus on areas in which I wanted to improve – one was the diction and the other one was my approach for characters. So, I don’t think I’ve reached my destination. It’s a journey that one can continue on for a long time, but atleast for now, I’ve some good people with me. I’ve developed a good team with me. I’ve got some very good people who work with me on the dialogues and do workshops to define the character. So, I’ve got more techniques at my disposal and more help at my disposal, which came after time of looking, trial and error.

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