Bollywood actress Katrina Kaif, who is seen executing a series of death-defying stunts in her latest action adventure, ‘Tiger 3’, with Salman Khan, calls it her career’s toughest role.
In the latest instalment of the spy series, directed by Maneesh Sharma, Kaif returns as the feisty former Pakistani undercover agent Zoya Humaini. In an interview with Gulf News via email, Kaif reveals that she set aside more than two months to train for the action sequences alone.
“I really had to go through the grind, and it was definitely the toughest training of my career so far. My action prep was for at least about two months because we wanted Zoya to look agile, have more speed, and greater strength,” Kaif said. She believes that the action sequences in her festive Diwali release are the “kind of action that may not have been attempted by a woman before.”
This franchise, produced by Aditya Chopra’s Yash Raj Films, has been a money-spinner from the word go. In 2012, Khan and Kaif kicked off the Tiger franchise with ‘Ek Tha Tiger’ and followed it up with a monster hit ‘Tiger Zinda Hai’ in 2017. Khan plays the fierce Avinash Singh Rathore (who goes by the field name Tiger) from Indian intelligence agency RAW, while Kaif works for Pakistan’s intelligence Agency, ISI, as their agent. They may be opponents and rivals on the field, but sparks fly as they meet, adding a dash of romance to this cross-cultural action adventure.
High on bombastic action, star-power, and crazy plot twists, the ‘Tiger’ series has a loyal fan base that keeps growing with each chapter. It’s out in the UAE cinemas on November 11.
“Playing a spy in a movie is a dream come true,” she adds.
Excerpts from our interview with the 40-year-old Kaif, who’s one of Bollywood’s most bankable stars with beauty brands under her belt and a legion of fans cheering her every move.
Tell us about the evolution of Zoya in the latest ‘Tiger’ franchise.
Every ‘Tiger’ film has taken Zoya’s character a notch above its previous instalment, and she has fought harder, and it has been bloodier. ‘Tiger 3’ was definitely the toughest training of my career so far and was executed by some of the best action teams in the world. And now, I am super excited for audiences to see these sequences on the big screen. I love action as a genre, and playing a spy is a dream come true. I knew that this was going to be a part of my legacy, so I always give my 200 per cent for this franchise.
Do you think you have managed to shatter the stereotype that women have little to do in the spy genre because the heavy lifting is traditionally done by a man?
‘Tiger 3’ shows that there is nothing that a woman can’t do when it comes to saving her family, nation, or humanity. A character like Zoya is important and necessary to tell people that girls can be nurturers as well as fierce protectors. I love how she can match anyone with her grit and courage. She doesn’t back down from a fight, and she can be as good as, if not better than, a man when it comes to doing action.
You are one of the most disciplined and hardworking actors in Bollywood. What kind of physical training did you undergo to look the part?
Thank you. I really had to go through the grind, and it was definitely the toughest training of my career so far. My action prep was at least for about two months. We wanted Zoya to look agile, have more speed, and greater strength. When you see the kind of action that Zoya has done, you will realise that such sequences may not have been attempted by a woman before.
Tell us more about this iconic stunt scene at the Hamam? Is your superpower all about doing action stunts with a towel wrapped around you — wardrobe malfunction is a serious worry here.
Zoya’s style of action is also unique, and she can pull off some very complicated action sequences with ease, like the one you see a sneak peek of in the trailer. Yes, the Hamam scene was a tough one. It was hand-to-hand combat, and we had to ensure that the movements were precise. Michelle Lee, who I am fighting against in this scene, is a Hollywood actor who specialises in shooting fight sequences, so I had to ensure I make the fight look good and the choreography looks seamless. Keeping our towels in the right position amidst all the movement and fight choreography was quite a challenge. So, then we decided to have specific points of the towels sewn, which helped a great deal.
Why do you think 'Tiger' has this massive global fan following, and what about the franchise personally appeals to you?
The ‘Tiger’ franchise has struck a chord with the audiences. The characters Tiger and Zoya are charismatic and they are daredevils. I feel that the audiences enjoy watching these two spies back in action, saving the day. This is the third film of the Tiger franchise, and it is an action spectacle. I can confidently say that people will be blown away by what the film has to offer.
Songs set in the Middle East are a recurring stamp in Tiger films. Tell us about your experience of filming in this region?
Songs have always been one of the highlights in the Tiger films, and I love how Vaibhavi (Merchant) has captured the vibe and dynamics between Tiger and Zoya in this song in a new way. ‘Leke Prabhu Ka Naam’ is a visually captivating song. Set against the breathtaking backdrop of Cappadocia, Turkey, this song has to be visually one of my favorites. Styled by the one and only Anaita Shroff Adajania, who has crafted seven remarkable looks, each exuding an undeniable sense of glamour and unique silhouettes.
Do you think Tiger makers should now do an offshoot film with just your character in the centre?
Sure. That would be exciting.
How have you seen Salman Khan evolve over the years as an actor and a person?
Salman [Khan] at the core is the same person he has always been — very warm and helpful. As an actor, our fans love our chemistry, and it is always a delight to work with him.
What’s the biggest misconception about you today?
The biggest misconception is that I don’t eat Punjabi food.
What kind of films did you grow up watching?
I grew up watching classic films like ‘Singing In The Rain,’ ‘Casablanca,’ and ‘Gone With The Wind.’
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‘Tiger 3’ is out in UAE cinemas on November 11