Akshay Kumar, Katrina Kaif and Farah Khan flew into London this week to promote TEES MAAR KHAN. From 'Sheila Ki Jawani' to Shah Rukh Khan's casting controversies, the film consistently generated column inches. Our correspondent went head-to-head with the director and stars of the movie, to talk about the production. Trade analysts are predicting it will be the biggest Bollywood grosser of 2010.
What is the USP of this film? Akshay: The USP of TEES MAAR KHAN is the kind of role that I have been offered in the movie. Also, that I am working with Farah for the first time. On top of that we have 'Sheila Ki Jawani'.
Can you confirm the rumours that the project was first offered to Shah Rukh Khan? Farah: When it was decided that I was going to direct the film the first person I called was Akshay and he was the only choice. Akshay was fabulous to work with. As a star to have in your film, he is bang on with time. If you want him there at 6am he will be there at 5.30am. He brings 200% and gives everything to the shot. Other than that, he improvises and will give you two or three variations of how to do it.
How did you decide on the casting of Akshay Kumar and Katrina Kaif? Farah: For me, it was the first time I was working with Akshay and Katrina both. For a long time I resisted bringing the two of them together as I thought they had been together in too many movies. But I think we have presented them in a very different way, both of them are not doing anything we have seen before, and they look like different actors. When they come together their chemistry is so special, and when the camera goes on, magic happens. You cannot explain two people's chemistry, but for them it is there in abundance. They are also both tall, good looking and they complement each other physically.
What was it like working with Farah? Katrina: There are a few directors who you want to work with on the basis of their talent and their reputation. In this film it was definitely a case of that with Farah. Luckily for me there were a lot of things that I found challenging in this film, obviously the songs and the level of the dancing expected.
Akshay: She is a very strict director, and if she was only allowed to have a cane in her hands. She loves beating up people.
And working with each other again? Katrina: (Laughs) I had to be brought to set screaming and kicking.
Did you realize 'Sheila Ki Jawani' would be such a hit? Katrina: I had not worked with Farah for many years, and her songs are always hugely talked about and they have always been a focal point. Especially the songs the girl have done like Sushmita Sen's 'Tumhe Jo Maine Dekha' in MAIN HOON NA and Deepika's [Padukone] introduction song in OM SHANTI OM. All her movies have that one really special song for the girls and I didn't want to let anyone down. I was very nervous about it and put in those hours to make sure I did the best that I could.
Farah: I knew 'Sheela Ki Jawani' would be a big hit. We composed it, constructed it and choreographed it in such a way. But it is incredible that it has gone onto become this kind of a rage, with people watching it a hundred times on YouTube. What is surprising is that little kids are loving it. Maybe it is a children's jingle. When Akshay saw it, he said in small cities they are going to stop the film and replay the song again.
Akshay: It will be fun watching this song in the interiors of India. I watch each and every film on the theatre, and when I am shooting in the interiors I love to watch films and literally they throw money at such kind of songs.
Farah: And this time I am going to be there right in front to pick up all the money.
How do you feel about the battle that has developed between Munni vs Sheila? Katrina: I don't think we ever realized it, as when we were shooting the song, DABANGG had not yet released. I don't think Farah and I want to compare or fight or anything like that. It is about doing the best that I can do for this song. In my opinion, it is very different to the songs in DABANGG, which coincidentally Farah has done anyway.
How did Salman Khan come onboard for the project? Farah: I asked Salman Khan to do a song for our movie as there were rumours already that he was in it. I asked him if he would do it and he agreed. It was as simple as that.
Does the movie show off your comic actor or action hero skills? Akshay: Well there is not much action in this film. It is more comic, because the way the character is written, if there is any action he doesn't want to fight he just wants to run away, and will come back when there are less people and he can handle then very easily. So the character is like that.
Why is the film releasing earlier in the international market? Farah: In the UK and US we are releasing earlier because the holidays begin on 22nd, so we get a really long weekend. We want to get the advantage of a bigger opening weekend and we get a five-day weekend this way. In the Middle East we release 23rd because all films release on a Thursday over there.