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Zero Movie Interview: Shah Rukh Khan, Katrina Kaif And Anushka Sharma

One of the most-anticipated films of 2018, and Shah Rukh Khan’s Christmas release, Zero, has hit the marquee on December 21. The superstar plays a vertically challenged person named Bauua Singh, who hails from Meerut. Also, starring Katrina Kaif as Babita Kumari, and Anushka Sharma as a person suffering from cerebral palsy, the trailer of the film highlights a love-triangle between them. Sharing their experience of this film, and their bond, Shah Rukh Khan, Katrina Kaif, Anushka Sharma and filmmaker Aanand L. Rai speak exclusively to

Excerpts from the interview:

Aanand L Rai: What convinced you to the fact that there’s nobody else but Shah Rukh Khan, who can portray Bauua Singh?
It’s very simple. I was looking out for a more secured star, and somebody who could understand the need for this kind of story to be told to the audience. I was very clear that with him, it’s just not the actor but a filmmaker who will understand the need for this story, and that’s what happened.

Shah Rukh Khan: What motivates you to take up such challenging roles. Don’t you fear the risks involved?
Not at all. Actors should consider themselves as a medium to the director and the writer’s voice. For someone like me, who hadn’t trusted Abbas-Mustan to make Baazigar, if I hadn’t trusted Mr Yash Chopra to produce a film like Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge, if I hadn’t trusted the filmmaker to make Chak De! India, or if I didn’t go and see a film like Tanu Weds Manu or Raanjhanaa, then what is the whole basis of being a star. When you’re doing your job, I think it gets too compartmentalised into a business of films. I think it should still remain the business of art. Twenty-five years you can’t wake up every morning and be yourself and follow a template. I think Aanand L Rai, Himanshu and his whole team, some of the people who are not here and we haven’t mentioned in front of the camera, they invoke confidence. If there is fun in a film, it will translate into fun for the audience.

Katrina Kaif: How easy or difficult does it become to portray characters extremely contradictory to one’s personality?
It was initially difficult for me, and I think that’s where the director really comes into play. Again, I have been reminded of it in this film that how important it is for you to be able to portray the director’s vision. You can’t just think that it’s all in your mind and you’re going to create it as a character. When you trust the director, then I think you feel very fearless. That’s what I felt in this film because we all have so much respect for Aanand sir, and he’s one of the greatest filmmakers that we have right now. He’s very confident and never unsure. I’ve never heard him say, ‘I don’t know’ or ‘I’m not sure’, for him it’s always yes or no. Because he is so much specific and has clarity in what he’s doing, I think you feel that confidence as an actor to be fearless and just go wherever he’s taking you.

Anushka Sharma: To what extent did you go to prepare for your character. How challenging was it for you to portray this character, and understand its nuances?
I think that every film you get into, you have challenges, and every film and its set of roles comes with challenges. But in this particular case, I understood that I was representing somebody who has a condition like cerebral palsy. So, it had to be done very truthfully but the good thing here was that both Aanand sir and Himanshu came with all the research regarding cerebral palsy, and how this would affect me physically, my speech and they had spoken to doctors. So, they really had completely created what this character of Aafia was going to look like for me. I just had to really follow his vision, and I just had to work with an occupational therapist, an audiologist to understand the specifics of body movements or speech. But I think, in the end, I just followed his (Aanand L Rai’s) vision, and it becomes very easy to follow a vision of a director like Aanand. He really has a lot of clarity about his character. He doesn’t even let you know but takes you on a journey, and eases you out completely, and allows you to have that sort of really strong faith in him as a filmmaker.

Katrina Kaif: While reading the script, did you ever contemplate playing Aafia’s character portrayed by Anushka Sharma?
I definitely felt that both of the roles were extremely well-written, and that’s something that I have noticed in all of Aanand sir’s films, and the writer Himanshu as well. I think they write really well for women. Their characters are very well-defined, they always have a complete arch in the film. From where they start, where they go through and also what are they trying to say with the character. Sometimes, I feel that you can get really good scenes but the whole character is not complete to what the director is trying to say with that women or with that girl. I think in that sense, I have always been very attracted to the way they portray women. I can definitely say that Aanand sir has kept that in the film for both Anushka and my character. They are both very well-defined, well-written interesting layers of character.

Shah Rukh Khan: People are really getting emotional after watching the trailer. Which is that one response that has really touched you?
Not many people talk to me and tell me about my trailer but that’s the surprising part of the trailer because when we first saw it, Aanand sir was making some versions and called us all to the office many times. The one thing I didn’t realise was that the film makes you feel this way or the trailer makes you feel that way (emotional). I think that is the quality that Aanand sir has. He will start with the fun thing and before you know it, you are just captured into another place where you are getting entangled emotionally, and to be honest, even I did not realise that. Neither in the film, when did we leave fun and move into a place where we were still having fun but started feeling extremely emotional about moments that were happening very lightly, I didn’t realize and the nicest compliment I think, Aanand sir only must have given saying, ‘Sir, theek ho gaya.’

Aanand L Rai: You also must have received some responses.
While making this film and the entire journey what was my need was making us as a team, and I always look forward to that. This should satisfy all of us; this should be happiness amongst us in the entire journey – Anushka, Khan Saab, and Katrina, otherwise, for me it’s just their smiles that matters. The day I started my shoot, I look forward to putting that smile on my actor’s face and that gives me a lot of energy. For me, the compliment is that they are happy.

Shah Rukh Khan: One very nice thing Aanand sir said to someone was that when he makes a film as a storyteller, it’s not meant to be ahead of the audience or behind them. He wants his characters to actually shake hands and be one with the audience. That’s the quality that came through the trailer. We are playing three very different worlds and characters, physically also. But, I think somewhere down the line the trailer kind of shakes hands with you.

Shah Rukh Khan: What was AbRam’s reaction when he saw you as Bauua Singh for the first time?
I think maybe I had imposed upon him that I kind of said it or maybe just he felt it. The other day I was showing him Husn Parcham song and the trailer was attached to the laptop, and we just saw it together. He just walked in and said, ‘Oh! This is the movie where you are acting like me and he went off.’

One reason why the audience should watch this film?
Aanand L Rai:
For my audience, it is just one thing, entertainment, and I really value those precious two-and-a-half hours that they will be giving us.

Anushka Sharma: I completely agree with him. I think ultimately people want to come to watch your film to get entertained, and this is the kind of film you can watch with the entire family and be entertained. There’s something for everybody here, by this I mean, it has emotions, there are quirky characters and they are taking you on this journey of celebrating love, and I think that’s going to make everyone really warm inside while watching the movie and laugh throughout even in the most serious scenes. It’s not going to be all melodramatic and feeling sad, that’s the beauty of Aanand sir and Himanshu when they make movies. Their film always has this humour even though they are very emotional. And that’s the kind of film even I will like to watch.

Katrina Kaif: I think it’s a film in a very fun-lighted manner without preaching too much encourages you to overcome your insecurities, weaknesses and your fears. It also encourages you to see life in a positive manner and since it’s coming on the New Years, it’s a great way to enter the New Years.

Shah Rukh Khan: I think it is a happy space film. It’s very nice for Christmas for the whole family to come together and watch it. It’s always nice if you have a familiar film, where everybody can come and enjoy but personally and very emotionally I would say this in the lines of Jerry Maguire, ‘You complete me.’ So, I think the two empowered characters of women that Aanand L Rai and Himanshu have written; they complete me as an actor – Shah Rukh and they (Katrina and Anushka) complete me as my character Bauua Singh. Come and see what it really means to have an empowered women story and different characters, two of them and acting it so well, without thrusting it on your face.

Anushka Sharma: How is it to reunite with the same cast? Since the bonding is already there, does it simplify working with each other?
I think it was easy even the first time we worked together. Shah Rukh and I had worked before but the three of us when we started working together, it became very easy. We didn’t try very hard to get along, firstly as people and secondly even as actors. I think we gave each other space, support that you require to give your co-actor, and the same thing continues in this film also. Aanand sir is the new addition, so he’ll be the right one to answer about it.

Aanand L Rai: How was it to be on the sets with these three?
They knew each other so well that from day 1, I was a little surprised. Most of the times I would feel that the way Anushka is saying something on the set, maybe, Sir (Shah Rukh Khan) won’t like it, but they had great chemistry. So, it was easier for me to sail through.

Shah Rukh Khan: Why the title Zero?
There are two reasons for Zero, which is the philosophy of the film, it doesn’t come inherently in the story. It’s a perspective. If you see Zero from one side, you can assume it is nothing but if you see from the other side, it’s a hole – a complete circle of life. There are times in people’s lives when they believe that they have reached the Zero stage, now they are completely gone. Instead of looking at like this, you should think of it as a new beginning. All of us should be given a chance to re-live our lives, we would make some improvement in it. So, when you’re at the lowest stage in your life, look at Zero as – I have an opportunity to start all over again. And if you look at Zero, it’s nothing, and if you look at it, it’s complete and the main thing in life is, instead of trying to be, ‘How could we be better than Zero, we should be, can be, not be.’ What one should do is remember there is only one life and don’t waste life thinking in what we can be, instead of living the life to the fullest and celebrating it.

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