Interview By: DRISHTI PANDEY

Zareen Khan was in limelight ever since she made her dream debut with Salman Khan in ‘Veer’ and also because she was tagged as Katrina Kaif lookalike in her early days.  Her journey in Bollywood hasn’t been an easy ride. She was talked about for being heavily panned for her fuller figure and was criticized by many. With all this, what’s applaudable about the actress is that she is taken all these criticism and labeling on the chin and never feared from speaking her mind. Excerpts:

How would you distinguish your character Rose in ‘1921’ as compared to other characters you have played till date?

It’s very different, first of all it is set in the era of 1921, and that era was a simple era unlike today’s era.  Everything out then was simple. People were simple, things were simple, and lives were simple.  The character I am playing is Rose, she is a ghost whisperer – the one who can communicate with the souls, who can see them, and convey the soul’s messages to their family or loved ones in this real world. So, I had not played any such character before and being the person who is scared of horror films or horror genre, doing this was a challenge.

In recent times, we have been seeing you take up centric roles in not so large budget films unlike how you made your debut with Salman Khan Starrer ‘Veer’?

It’s nothing like that, in spite of me being a new comer and having a very prominent role in ‘Veer’ which I think it was my dream debut and I got to play the main lead to Salman in his film, and if talking about small films; I don’t think any film is small or big because now a days it’s the small budget films which are doing great business. For e.g. take a Salman’s recent film, no doubt I am his huge fan and it’s because of him that I am part of this industry, but Salman being Salman khan! His film ‘Tubelight’ somehow didn’t   do well. So it’s not about big or small films, it’s about the story of the film, it’s about the character that you are playing and its director’s vision.

Do you think that had ‘Veer’ released today, it would have done better business?

If ‘Veer’ had released now, I do think it would have been a much-bigger hit. In fact, I was actually speaking about this to a few people some time ago, and then too I had mentioned how the timing was wrong. I do believe that timing also plays a crucial factor in the fate of a film, and had ‘Veer’ released today, it had every chance of doing extremely well.

Vikram Bhatt being the master of horror films, how was your experience of working with him and also what has your learning been?

He is amazing and I am a fan of Vikram sir since the time I saw his film ‘Raaz’ though I have not seen lot of his film except for this and that was when I was in school. And Vikram sir has a beautiful nag of storytelling whether he is depicting a horror film or a love story; he is very much in touch with his emotion that’s why he can depict it so well.  We all know Vikram sir is a great director but I came to know him as a person in these two months in which we shot constantly at strength. So I came to know he is an amazing person and he is an ocean full of knowledge. So it’s been a great experience and learning from him.

What is your take on the way we make horror as a genre in Bollywood and the way films are made in Hollywood and why do you think we fail to click?

Well in our country horror genres are not really explored that much; we have very few filmmakers who make horror films. And it is surprising that there is a major part of the population who like watching horror film or a horror T.V show anything to do with horror as long as it is well made. Because most of the time when people try to make horror it turns out to be comedy, so we have to be very careful of that. That’s the reason people don’t take the risk of making horror films and plus today’s generation is very into cool and un-cool stuff; like they would love to go for ‘Conjuring’ and ‘Annabelle’ and if we try to make this in Hindi they would go like what nonsense it is.  I think we are very double standards when it comes to this. (Laughs)  I remember when ‘IT’ was released and people were going mad over it; what was there in it except one joker? But because it was coming from the west and we Indians love imported things. (Laughs)  I believe people’s perception needs to be changed; they really need to come and see what we are offering. People need to come out from the influence of the west and try to accept what’s made here.

“I do believe that timing also plays a crucial factor in the fate of a film, and had ‘Veer’ released today, it had every chance of doing extremely well”

With this do you think filmmakers don’t tend to take horror genre seriously?

It’s not that the filmmakers don’t tend take horror genre seriously – what happens most of the time is that people don’t know how to make a horror film.  Because as I said horror if not made well can turn into comedy and it is risky; so I think everyone is playing safe.  What works for them, they make it and are happy with it! But when talked about Vikram sir he himself has a deep understanding for horror genres because he has studied these paranormal things, supernatural things, physic science himself and that’s the reason when he is portraying something on screen; he has the reasoning behind it or a logic behind what’s happening and that’s why the audience are involved in his movie and that is what is important.

Earlier in your career you were a part of many multi-starrer films and now you seem to be focusing on the films that are smaller in scale; is that a conscious move?

Well, the thing is that I never planned all this; I mean everything just happened from multi – starrer film to smaller films where I play the lead roles.  And when I became part of this industry, my debut was with Salman Khan and it was a dream debut after that I did a song in ‘Ready’ then ‘Housefull 2’; all big genres with big stars attached to them. But after sometime I was just getting lost somewhere in all of that; so I decided to take a back seat. There was quite some time when I wasn’t visible on screen because I was figuring what I’m I supposed to do, because I didn’t want to do multi starrer films as I was only perceived as that person who can fit somewhere. Once I figured that out, I decided not to do such films just for the heck of doing it; even though I was getting similar offers and reading scripts. Because even after doing such big films I was the only one who would cope a lot of criticism after the films wouldn’t do well. So, I kind of became careful and then ‘Hate Story 3’ came my way, I was quite skeptical because I myself couldn’t imagine myself in a role like that, I wasn’t sure if I would be able to pull it off, I wasn’t sure if my audience would accept me because they had seen me as a princess, as a girl next door. And ‘Hate story 3’ was an erotic film which needed a lot of skin show and I come from a history where I am still criticized  for my weight and all of that so I wasn’t sure if it would work for me. But I took the chance and it worked. Now there are films which are being made where I am the centric character and the film is made around me. It is okay if the film is not of that big budget as long as it is satisfying me and I am playing a good role in it, I am happy doing it.

Your last few films dealt with bold theme. Do you think it would cumbersome to get back in the family audience space?

No, because I did one film which was erotic (Hate Story 3) the second one unfortunately turned out to be erotic (Aksar2) (Laughs). However ‘1921’ is a very clean film. It’s a complete love story, a beautiful soulful love story set in the 1921.  So of course perceptions are going to change after this film. I am also doing a film with this Anupam Kher in the coming month where I am playing a cop. So if people were just seeing me as an erotic actress, then I don’t think these movies and such roles would have been offered to me. Lucky, I am not being stereotyped.

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