“Salman Khan is the perfect Tiger” – Kabir Khan in conversation with Koimoi
Less than 24 hours from now, suspense would be revealed on how good does Ek Tha Tiger actually turn out to be. Massive expectations, huge hype, (thankfully) no negative vibe whatsoever, an actor (Salman Khan) who is at his career peak, an actress (Katrina Kaif) who just doesn’t set a foot wrong, a production house (Yash Raj Films) which has played it’s biggest (calculated) gamble till date and a director (Kabir Khan) who can be trusted to bring his sensibilities to the fore as well. That’s a package that makes Ek Tha Tigera film which has to be the most talked about film for last one month at the least.
Kabir, amidst all the hype and hoopla, one does expect that someone like you won’t settle for anything where there is no story to be told. Is this what you promised as well when you started work on ‘Ek Tha Tiger’?
Yes, when you would watch the film, you would realise that there is a fascinating story in the middle of all. Okay, so people are reacting well to the promos currently but ultimately it is well told story that gets audience thumbs-up. I am aware of the fact that no blockbuster song or item number or action sequence can make your film work unless characters attach with the audience. See, people today can smell out a good film from bad film. If they are waiting for Ek Tha Tiger, it is also because they can sense that there is an engaging story to be told.
Was it the story factor that got Salman interested the most? Or was there a mandate with Yash Raj Fims to make a film with Salman and since you too were in a three-film contract, the ‘package’ came together?
No no, not at all! In fact I narrated the script of Ek Tha Tiger to Salman for over six hours. I had heard that he isn’t someone who listens to long narrations. Still, I remember starting at 10 in the morning and finishing at 5:30 in the evening with only a couple of breaks in between. He in fact surprised me by asking a lot of questions. I had to give him this detailed background of not just Tiger but even other characters. But no, to answer your question, the film had nothing to do with the fact that Yashraj and Salman were looking at coming together.
But why Salman?
(Smiles) This is a story that needed someone like Salman Khan. Come on, how many stars do we have in the country that you can call Tiger and not feel cheesy about it? He is the perfect tiger!
You had to fight it out though to change him from being a ‘dabangg’ to your Tiger, isn’t it?
(Laughs) Let me tell you something. I analysed a lot of Hollywood films before beginning work on Ek Tha Tiger. If you look at their films, the action looks far more engaging than some of our home bred action flicks. Why? I realised that it has a lot to do with the locations as well. Somehow in India we are stuck shooting in warehouses, basements and factories. Look at the ‘Bourne’ films. They use the space and locations so very well that sometimes you forget it is action in motion and instead look at it all as a dramatic sequence. Hamaari tarah nahi ki chalo inko aamne-saamne khada karte hain and make them fight for 5 minutes!
So can we expect the locations to play a role in ‘Ek Tha Tiger’?
Yes, most definitely. People did tell me that I was taking a huge risk to travel the world for Ek Tha Tiger. It was for a purpose though and also excited me. It is not like I couldn’t shoot in easier locations. The obvious step would have been London. However I wanted to explore new locations and though logistically it would have been demanding, I knew I couldn’t have got the desired edginess if I would have shot anywhere else. I wanted to take the story forward with all the action and from what I have been able to accomplish, I can see that action would be truly redefined after Ek Tha Tiger.