A Minute with Katrina Kaif

Actress swaps stylish clothes for tough roles

MUMBAI -- Katrina Kaif, one of Bollywood's most glamorous actresses, is swapping her designer outfits for cotton sarees in what many say could be her toughest role yet.

Kaif portrays an up-and-coming politician in director Prakash Jha's "Rajneeti."

She spoke about the film, being compared to Congress party chief Sonia Gandhi and why marriage is important to her.

Q: How has "Rajneeti" been as an experience for you?

A: "Each film is its own little world and I treat all my films, equally whether it is 'Ajab…' or 'New York' or this film. This was a different space, we were shooting in Bhopal and we all really bonded and that has really come across in all our performances on screen."

Q: Five years ago, if someone said that Katrina Kaif was acting in a film that required her to wear cotton sarees and wear minimal make-up, they would have been laughed. How did this transformation take place?

A: "Honestly it is my destiny and nobody can stop that. I am very honest to my work. I have tried and worked very hard and been true to what I do. This film doesn't have the usual trappings of glamour or songs and outdoor locations but I still believe that it has that much of intrigue and glamour in terms of the relationships and jealousies between the characters to offer to the audience. If it had just been a film about politics, I would have found it too dry for my liking."

Q: A lot of people didn't give you much of a chance in this industry when you first came. How did you manage to overcome that?

A: "I just went with the flow. I think a lot of people over-intellectualize their careers and plan too much. You have to realize that this is the entertainment industry and films are supposed to be fun. The films I enjoyed last year were films like 'The Hangover.' I don't really remember serious, intense films. People want to have fun at the movies and those are the kind of movies I want to make.

"I don't see the point of wearing a saree and crying in a ditch because people think that that is good acting. If that is good acting, those who are inspired to do it, will. I will not do something that doesn't come from within."

Q: Have the kind of movies you wanted to do changed since the time you made your debut?

A: "Yes, sure. Everyone changes with time don't they? You don't rewind and repeat. There are a million love stories that can be told, a million comedies that can be told. One looks for better stories, better spaces and better set-ups. That doesn't mean you have to go do a small budget, sad film to say I am an actor."

Q: Your character in "Rajneeti" has drawn a lot of comparisons with Sonia Gandhi. Is there any similarity?

A: "(Laughs) I know but there are no comparisons at all. She is just a girl who grows up in life, has to face rejection and comes into her own. Also, because of the graph of the character was such that there was no need to model her on anyone. Maybe for the campaigning portions that we shot, I looked at footage of some politicians but not otherwise."

Q: In "Rajneeti," you are shorn of all the attributes that you are known for -- glamour, dancing. Did you feel uncomfortable?

A: "Not really. I think I did pretty much the same thing in 'New York' and if I was accepted there, then I don't see why I can't be accepted in this. It's just that people like to put other people in pigeon holes and judge them. But when the audience comes to see the movie, they don't come to see it with prejudice. They give you a fair chance."

Q: Do you ever find yourself comparing your work to those of other actors in the space?

A: "No, never. I am someone who pretty much lives my life inside my head. I am in my own independent space. There are very few people who are part of my close circle, whom I trust and depend on and whose opinion really matters to me. Other than that, I am disconnected to everyone and everything else. As long as I have the security from the people that I know and love, I can honestly say that I don't envy anyone else.
I don't wish anyone ill."

Q: Does your success surprise you?

A: "Yeah, it does. Because it wasn't something I planned. But you don't walk around thinking 'Oh! I am so big'. Because things get harder after that, you have other battles to fight. There are friends, family, there is a life beyond films and you have to balance that."

Q: Five years from now, where do you see yourself?

A: "I would like to know where I stand at the end of this year -- five years is too far away. I just want to get through this year. Too much depends on how this year goes."

Q: Do you mean in terms of films?

A: "No, my films are all okay. I have that part figured out but I do have a life beyond films. My sister is going away to school this year, I don't know if she will come back to Mumbai or not. There are a lot of other things. But to answer your earlier question, I would say that in five years, I see myself married and settled."

Q: So marriage is important?

A: "Yes, of course it is. I think the security you get from a partner, whether married or not, is very important."