Love In Limbo
Kangana Ranaut, Imran Khan and Amrita Pandey, Vice-President and Head of Marketing and Distribution, Studios, Disney India, in conversation with the Team Box Office India about their film Katti-Batti.
How does the film start?
Imran Khan(IK): It starts at the end of a seven-year-relationship. So, in fact, most of what you have seen in the promos – the college, the romance, all that has happened before, from where the film begins. The film starts at a point where they have already parted ways.
Kangana Ranaut (KR): (Cuts in) They have not really parted ways. This woman (Payal) has just disappeared mysteriously, citing some strange reasons. But then Maddy (Imran’s character) <g data-gr-id="210">realises</g> that there is something wrong and that she is not going to come back and she was only making excuses. So they have not broken up but she has just vanished. That is why it unfolds like a thriller.
When all of you heard the script for the first time, what was it that actually intrigued you so much?
IK: For me, it was the relationship and more specifically it was the maturity of the relationship. My issue with romantic films, not specifically Hindi films but <g data-gr-id="226">films in general</g> is that when we talk about romance and when we show romance, we prefer to treat it with a light touch. We show this fairytale romantic comedy aspect, which is not how real relationships are, at least not a real adult relationship. We show that <g data-gr-id="225">Mr</g> Charming meets Miss Perfect and fall in love, and then they live happily ever after. This film shows you what happens once the honeymoon has ended. Here, you see the actual trials and tribulations of an adult relationship. How a couple starts to fight, how difficulties set in and how do you deal with them. And I had a very strong gut reaction because Avantika (Imran Khan’s wife) and I have been together for 13 years and I know that we have had ups and downs and there are difficulties in a marriage or a relationship.
Kangana, why does your character do this to him in the film?
IK: <g data-gr-id="166">Bohot</g> <g data-gr-id="168">tang</g> <g data-gr-id="167">karti</g> hai yaar! Payal is really very mean to Maddy in the film.
KR: I think this is a no-genre film and it is tough to promote a film like this. It is tough to <g data-gr-id="198">categorise</g> a film like this. Is it a slice-of-life film or something else. For instance, for Tanu Weds Manu, ‘rom-com’ was an apt word but Aanandji (L Rai, director) said that in the ‘70s, there were films which could be defined as ‘dramedy’, which was comedy mixed with drama. But there is no word to describe this film.
IK: ‘Dramedy’, I like this word.
KR: Yes, and that was apt for Tanu Weds Manu but not for Katti Batti. I think Katti Batti is a <g data-gr-id="172">rom-com</g>-meets-thriller-meets-slice of life. You will find all three genres in this film. The promos and the way we are promoting it suggests that the film is about this young couple who are constantly fighting and making up.
Was it an instant ‘yes’ for you after reading the script?
KR: Yes. The protagonist in the film is Imran. Usually, I play the protagonist in my films but in this film, he is driving all the plots. But it is such an endearing film. Anshul Singhal, who has written the film, is actually a lecturer at IIT. He has written it from a new perspective, making it a refreshing story. That’s what was most attractive about the script.
For you, Amrita, what was the clinching factor?
AP: This is a story that has been developed in-house completely. Anshul has written a beautifully refreshing story and we got Nikhil on board. Both Anshul and Nikhil (Advani, director) then jammed together like never before. It is a fabulous concept and the film has been shot so well. The way the relationship is portrayed is so real.
Kangana, given the phenomenal success of you portraying strong female roles, where the film revolves around you, were there any apprehensions that you may be diluting your standing, so to speak?
KR: Actually, stronger characters come in any format. The character I did in Fashion was very strong even if I had only 15 minutes’ screen space. In Katti Batti, there is no ensemble cast or a story about someone else but this is definitely one notch higher when it comes to performance. I only see my roles as an actor when it comes to choosing films and this film offers me a great platform. After Fashion, I did Tanu Weds Manu, then Queen. With every film, I took my performance a notch higher. Even in Tanu Weds Manu Returns, with Datto I have gone a notch higher. That’s my goal as an actor and that has been addressed by this film too.
Apart from the story, what was it about your character that attracted you to do the film?
KR: I think the challenges that the girl goes through. <g data-gr-id="208">Unfortunately</g> I can’t disclose the story. The condition she has, you feel very strongly for her. She is very sensitive. I wanted to portray those shades in a character, I wanted to be in that zone, I wanted to play a character who sees the world differently. We have come so far by covering that up, so let the curiosity remain till the film releases.
Imran, what is your take on the positioning of the film?
IK: I never pretend to know anything about the positioning of a film. I have an understanding of the creative side of <g data-gr-id="161">film-making</g> and how it should be but I never really know how to sell a film. I do have an opinion on the rights and <g data-gr-id="187">wrongs</g> but I am a big believer in letting a film speak for itself.
You cannot be dishonest, and this is the one thing that I picked up from Aamir (Khan) during the promotions of Jaane Tu… Ya Jaane Na, be honest about what you’re delivering. Don’t promise something and deliver something else.
Queen was different from Tanu Weds Manu. Tanu is bold and straightforward while Payal of Katti Batti also appears to be straightforward. But both films are set against completely different backdrops. As an actor, did you sketch the characters in your mind and how did you keep them different?
KR: You can’t compare the characters. Payal is very different from Tanuja Chaturvedi (Tanu). She has a very big arc in the film. She is modern while Tanuja is a Gabbar Singh kind of character.
But Payal is a very vulnerable character because she comes from a background where her parents didn’t have a stable marriage, so she is someone who doesn’t believe in the institution of marriage even though she wants to. She wants to tell this guy to make her believe in marriage. She is one of those people who says one thing, does something else and means something else. There are people like that in real life and it adds to the mystery of the film.
What kind of box-office returns are you expecting from the film?
AP: First, it is a very well-budgeted film and it is very smartly shot by the director. Looking at the satellite rights and the music deal we have already recovered our cost. Whatever we make now will be a bonus. Now, it is only about how people accept it rather than how far it goes.
You guys released a trailer immediately after Tanu Weds Manu Returns released, to cash in on the film’s success. Did that work?
AP: Yes, it did. It was very fresh and different to what she had done in that film. Some thought it was too early to release the trailer of Katti Batti but fresh from the success of Tanu Weds Manu Returns we wanted to introduce Kangana as Payal in Katti Batti.
KR: I completely understand that we have to establish the brand. So they released the teaser and it enjoyed a certain credibility because you have an actor who is so hyped and it got a million views and then they vanished for a good two and a half months. So it looks like a move which would work for them. Honestly, I felt that <g data-gr-id="188">Relvover</g> Rani was an incredible <g data-gr-id="215">film</g> but it didn’t get its due. Ek quirky zone <g data-gr-id="189">mein</g> <g data-gr-id="190">thi</g> and it needed <g data-gr-id="213">brand</g> building with a good eight to <g data-gr-id="214">ten week</g> campaign.
What are you expecting from the audience, from this <g data-gr-id="151">film</g> and from the critics?
KR: No expectations, you know there are films like Tanu Weds Manu… they probably call them ‘risky films’ but risky films are films like Revolver Rani, which was a complete risk. Or, for example, Queen.
There are only two ways it could have gone, either through the roof or nowhere at all. And then we got films like Tanu Weds Manu Returns, you don’t expect 150 plus ka business in India theatrical but you know it is more masala. Similarly, Katti Batti has a fresh approach. Kal Ho Naa Ho agar 2015 <g data-gr-id="192">mein</g> <g data-gr-id="193">aati</g> <g data-gr-id="194">hain</g>, it’s that sort of a version. So as a creative person, I don’t feel butterflies in my stomach like I felt during Queen, Revolver Rani or a film that is completely different because with those films, the risk factor was too high. Here, that is not the case. Delhi Belly was another film that could evoke only extreme reactions but, here, I don’t think so. Katti Batti is a safe bet.
Your expectations, Amrita?
AP: I am very happy with the way the film has shaped up, we are very proud of it.