He pulls her leg at every opportunity he gets, she’s probably the only person allowed to make fun of him in public.
Katrina Kaif and Salman Khan could have been Bollywood’s ultimate power couple, but the ‘close friends’ haven’t lost an iota of the chemistry that makes them sizzle on-screen in the upcoming action thriller Ek Tha Tiger.
As they stop over at the HT Cafe office for a tell-all session, we get to see the Sallu-Kat magic up close and personal.
You’ve teamed up with Katrina after a long time. Does she seem different?
Katrina: Congratulations! You get the medal for the 500th time this question has been asked in the past few days (laughs).
Salman: Haan, bas thodi lambi ho gayi hai (Just that she has grown taller now).
Katrina: Yeah, I was a growing girl. I don’t know. I’ve grown up completely. Or, maybe not!
As a person or as an actor?
Katrina: If I were to say that I’ve grown completely as a person that would sound a bit funny. I haven’t realised how much time has passed. Years go by so quickly.
When you first worked with Salman, you were starting out in the industry. Now, you are a huge star. How has your equation changed?
Katrina: When I walk onto the sets now, Salman will stand up or he will kick me (laughs). It's exactly the same. He thinks that when I talk, I don’t make sense. One day he’ll get the genius of my statements. But the main difference is before, when he would try and improvise with our lines, I’d get a heart attack. Now, I’ll say, 'okay, give me a minute.
Aamir Khan says Ek Tha Tiger is more than just Salman Khan.
Salman: More than Salman Khan? He wants to take credit for it? Salman Khan is Salman Khan.
Katrina: You can write Salman Khan in a big font, and then, give credit to Katrina Kaif, Kabir Khan and Aditya Chopra in small letters.
Salman: Sabse chotte wale toh tere (The tiniest font for you).
Salman, you shot this film when you were unwell. Was it tough?
Salman: No, it was easy. I’ve been handling the pain for the last eight years. But, I had surgery recently, so I had to be careful.
Apparently a few body doubles were used.
Salman: We have to use body doubles for rehearsals. Agar 10 baar jump karna hai toh kaheko 10 baar jump karo yaar (If I have to give the same jumping shot 10 times, why should I do it myself?) Doing the action scenes was difficult because when we designed them, we thought it would be hot. But when we started shooting (in England), the temperature was below 0 degrees, and I was wearing t-shirts all through. All the fighters around me were wrapped in jackets and I was the only one shooting in a t-shirt.
You often visited a café called Del-Mar when you were shooting in Mardin, Turkey. Now, they’re calling it Salman Khan Café.
Salman: (surprised) They are? We ate there once and I liked the ambience, so we used to hang out there. They wanted to learn different cuisines, and found Indian food interesting. So, I had my chef teach them. The owner was very sweet. He used to chant with this tasbi (a religious beaded chain), which he gave me when I left. I took it on the condition that I would return it the next time we met.
What have you learned from Ek Tha Tiger?
Salman: It’s a good question, but I don’t know how to answer it. Aisa lag raha hai ki hum spiritual class ke andar mein hai (Seems like we’re sitting in some spiritual class). We’ve had many years of experience in filmmaking. We know where the director is going to place the camera, what we have to say, etc. With this film, we knew it would be good, but we didn’t expect this kind of action.
Katrina: You didn’t learn anything from me?
Salman: Shut up, yaar.
Katrina, does it help to have the biggest action hero next to you? Did he give you tips?
Katrina: There was one point in the film, where we were doing the kicks, where I was not very comfortable. Though it was all choreographed, I wasn’t able to remember the sequence. Salman asked me to treat it like a dance. That was the best tip — make it like a dance step and then worry about the pose.
Salman: I don’t like these things, but it’s not in my control now.
So are you trying to sort it out?
Katrina: Are you talking about this ‘Rs 20 extra’ thing?
Salman: Mujhe samajh mein aata hai ye badi rakam Being Human ko kyun nahi de sakte. (I don’t understand why this money cannot be given to Being Human).
On the subject of sequels, lots of people want to see a second part to Andaz Apna Apna.
Katrina: For Andaz Apna Apna, I think they must make a sequel.
Salman: Nahi! Andaz Apna Apna nahi yaar. (No sequel for this one). Initially, when Katrina saw the film, she
didn’t understand a word. She was sitting with a straight face and asking me what was so funny. Fir baad mein jab inhe Hindi samajh mein aayi toh, inhone wapas film dekhi (later, when she started learning Hindi, she realised what was so funny).
Would you like to do it again, Salman?
Salman: The film was a disaster. It didn’t even last four days in the theatres. Now everybody likes it. But it’s been 20 years since the first movie, so the sequel has to be at least 10 times better.
Katrina, you haven’t signed any films after Dhoom 3. Are you taking a break?
Katrina: I’ve never signed films more than eight to nine months in advance.
Salman: Yaar aisa lagta hai ki teen saal aage ki planning kar rahe hain, fayada kya hai? (It seems like we’ve got to plan for the next three years. What’s the point?)
So, is Sohail’s film, Sher Khan, finally on track?
Salman: We have two scripts ready, but we haven’t decided which one to start yet. We still have two months to think about it. Sher Khan requires a lot of hard work, especially from me.
What are your expectations from Ek Tha Tiger after giving back-to-back hits in the recent past?
Salman: What do you want me to say? Inshallah, the film should be a disaster? You want me to say that it has been horribly made and I’ll kill you if you even enter the theatre?
We’re asking about the Rs 100cr club.
Salman: The ticket prices have increased, there are many theatres and even more fans. Business should increase. Today, you’re emphasising on the Rs 100 cr club. Tomorrow it will be Rs 200 cr, then Rs 300 cr. India is a growing nation. Finally there’s electricity in many villages.
(Transcribed by Shalvi Mangaokar, Soumya Vajpayee and Sumedha Deo)
Tiger takes on the other Khans
How many people have asked you about Shah Rukh Khan?
Katrina: No one.
Salman: You are the first one. It’s not right to ask such questions. Unki picturein hain usme mera kya role hai? (What’s my role in his films?) He has nothing to do with my films.
But SRK has always asked about you.
: Poor guy, I feel bad for him.
Your film is coming up, then there’s Aamir’s Talaash and after that, SRK’s film will release. The industry is already talking about which Khan will make the most money. Does that bother you?
Salman: I’m happy when anybody makes money. Just don’t lose money. Films should do well and people should praise you.
In between, there were talks with Atul (Agnihotri) about a sequel to Bodyguard. Are you still working on it?
Salman: It’s a difficult sequel to make. We need to make a sequel to No Entry. It’s an outstanding script.
Salman on why he doesn’t answer fan mail: I remember the autographed photo that I got from Jeetendra sahib, which somebody gave me saying it was personally sent for me. I was really proud, and for many years, I thought it was true.
My team reads the letters and if there’s anything interesting, they bring it to me. Beech mein sab blood-shlood ke letters aane shuru ho gaye the. Yeh pata nahi kiska aur kahan ka blood tha par blood tha. (We started receiving letters written in blood. Now, who knows whose blood or what kind of blood it was?)
To put an end to that, we stopped replying.
Salman Khan on Being Human Foundation: He is known for his largesse, having set up the Being Human Foundation to fund his charity work. Salman Khan admits that the education system has become “hugely commercialised” and “Being Human will do something in this sphere soon”.
He says, “I hope children study at least till the seventh or eighth grade. Thodi bahut English, Hindi aur Marathi seekhlein (they should learn a little English, Hindi and Marathi). Being Human is trying to do something along these lines. Education that goes up to R10 lakh is out of reach. When I was in school, we paid R5 in the fifth standard, R6 in the sixth and so on till we passed high school,” recalls the actor, who is gearing up for the release of his next Eid biggie, Ek Tha Tiger.
Ask the actor for more details on the project, and he says: “Itna bol diya hai, bas ho gaya. (I’ve said this much, that’s enough).”
Salman is also expected to produce and act in the Hindi remake of director-producer Mahesh Manjrekar’s Shikshanachya Aaicha Gho. The 2010 Marathi film focuses on the loopholes in the Indian education system a la 3 Idiots.
Salman explains, “The Hindi remake will have to be a commercial film, and not a documentary. It may fetch a National Award, but what’s the point if no one goes to the theatre to watch the movie, and instead watches it on DVD? People should buy tickets, enjoy the film and spread the word. And whatever money is eventually collected from the ticket sales should be given to a charitable trust.”