If there was one actress who drummed her presence on the big screen in 2007, it was the long legged lass Katrina Kaif.
Businessofcinema.com last interviewed Katrina on the eve of Namastey London’s release. Just two films old then, she added three more films to her filmography namely Apne, Partner and Welcome within the next 10 months. What’s more, all these were box office successes, which gave her career a major fillip.
She admits her career path has changed radically with different flavoured films in her kitty. Moreover, the industry’s outlook towards her has also changed from being considered as a pretty face to evolving into an actor. That can be affirmed by the fact that she has recently bagged a three film deal with Studio18.
Amidst her rising career graph, her work philosophy remains to do one good film at a time rather than sign a bulk deal for loads of moolah and no good movies to do.
Businessofcinema.com bridges the months gone by since her first big hit Namastey London and takes a peep into her future as she gets candid in an exclusive interview after a small yet successful inning.
During the release of Namastey London, you hoped for the film to be a turning point in your career. In retrospect, how do you feel?
I think Namastey London was a very important turning point at that stage in my career. It did a huge amount for me.
But I don’t think it is going to be the only turning point of my career. I hope to have many more turning points with bigger and better films and achievements.
Since Namastey London, what changes have you noticed in your career?
The industry perception towards me changed drastically. While many films like Apne and Partner came along, it was Namastey London that got me the greatest response by far from the industry. It was really encouraging because at the end of the day it is the same fraternity that you have to work with.
Now there are a lot more offers and better roles. People who earlier did not rate my talent or consider me a performer are making connections with me.
After your releases Partner and Welcome fared well at the box office, how did it impact you career?
These were commercial films. There are many films that get made where some are female oriented and others are female character driven. But Partner was a commercial film, which is equally important because a huge chunk of our industry is driven by commercial entertainers.
As an actress I need to be a part of that because of the visibility factor. They get released with 1000 prints all over the country with a cross-section of people as audience. So the important thing is to strike a balance performance oriented films and ones that provide visibility.
Namastey London was a commercial film as well…
Sometimes you get lucky with a chance to perform as well as get visibility. But those are few and far. It is good when they come (Smiles).
Are you looking at doing mainstream and commercial Bollywood films only?
No. I think I am just looking at films that give an opportunity to be on a good platform and at the same time characters that I can add to. Now, with more and more films I have started to understand what suits me and what I can add to. When I hear a script I visualize it in my mind and visualize myself doing that character. Now if I cannot visualize it, I cannot relate to it and hence that film is not for me.
So after working in these films do you think you have the understanding to pre-judge what will or won’t work or do you look for guidance from someone?
Commercially I think I have a decent understanding of what should work at the box office, keeping the script and other aspects in mind. But there are also some unpredictable films.
So far you have been associated with mostly comedy films. Are you happy-go-lucky in real life and hence choose to do such films?
No, that’s just a coincidence. But after the experience of all these films, I have realized that I do enjoy comedy films and do enjoy slightly more loud characters rather than shy and quiet type. This is something I have learnt after the experience of doing such films.
In real life, I am not like that at all. I am quite the opposite of this and I enjoy doing this more on screen.
Aren’t comedy films and comic roles the best and safest way to instantly connect with audiences and get good response for your work?
I think so. After all, I have learnt a lot from these films. I am shooting for Singh is Kinng, which is also a comic film. I have just started to see the benefits of the experience, learning by doing so many comedy films. I am now starting to utilize that knowledge.
Apart from comic films, do sci-fi, thriller or action films also interest you?
I have a thriller film coming up this year, Race with Abbas-Mastan. I would love to do an action film and I really hope I get a chance to do that. But I would prefer to take three to four months off, train myself and then do that.
Actually, this is also something I had been talking about a lot when I was in Australia where we were shooting for Singh Is Kinng. I still haven’t read any such scripts but there are great films being made, good roles are coming up for girls as well, so I think it is just a matter of time.
While actors have been hiking their fees almost five-fold and signing deals with corporate houses, the same cannot be said of most actresses. Why?
There are many actresses who have signed with corporate houses. I have recently inked a three film deal with Studio 18. Others too have approached me. I am happier taking one film at a time. If someone comes with an offer wherein you have a lot of confidence in the production house, then there is no reason why you shouldn’t do it.
But, you should not do something just for the sake of money. It is important to take long term decisions for you career rather than look at short term financial benefits.
After tasting success in the last few films, have you hiked your fees?
There has been a huge difference in my fees from what it was before the release of Namastey London to now. However, money is a slightly personal thing and those in the industry who need to know it, do.
After having commercial success, producers and distributors should be willing to pay a bit more, because one has earned that. On the other hand, if you sign deals with corporates, they may be willing to pay up to three times your market price but that doesn’t mean anything if the film will not go on floors or if you don’t feel like doing that film. So it is just an imaginative figure, it is like a pie in the sky.
It is more realistic to work individually on projects and get paid the price you feel you deserve for a project.
Has there been a hike for your endorsements too?
Luckily, I have always been paid very well for endorsements. There has been a 50 per cent increase per year since the last two years that I have been here.
In your previous interview with Businessofcinema.com, you had said that Bollywood hasn’t accepted you entirely. Do you see a difference now?
There’s a lot more acceptance now. I feel that at least within the commercial sector of the industry there is a lot more acceptance, recognition and respect. It is always very encouraging when you can see the progress.
Akshay Kumar has recently emerged as the most successful actor. How has it helped you since you have been paired with him in multiple films?
It’s good that we make a good pair and people have liked us. We do make a good pair on screen and there is certain chemistry. However, in real life we are opposites. It is nice when opposites can compliment each other on screen.
Every hit film helps everyone involved. So if films like Partner or Namastey London have worked, it has been a bonus for me.