In the ever-expanding YRF Spy Universe, which kick-started with 2012 blockbuster Ek Tha Tiger, Bollywood star Katrina Kaif says she's ready to go it alone should she be called to action.
“Absolutely! That would be exciting,” she tells The National, when asked if she'd like her character Zoya to front her own franchise.
Named after spy films produced by Yash Raj Films, the universe has become a money spinner for the company. Starting with Ek Tha Tiger featuring Kaif and Salman Khan, who returned with the sequel Tiger Zinda Hai (2017), the franchise also includes blockbuster War (2019), starring Hrithik Roshan and Tiger Shroff in the lead.
But its biggest success has been this year's Pathaan with Shah Rukh Khan, which broke records upon its release in January and reinvigorated a sluggish box office still battling the after effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Tiger 3, a sequel to Tiger Zinda Hai, will hope to continue Pathaan's success when released on Sunday, during the lucrative Diwali holidays. Reportedly made at a budget of 3 billion rupees, it is one of Yash Raj Films' most expensive to date.
“I can confidently say that people will be blown away with what the film has to offer,” says Kaif. “It has bigger, better, stunning action sequences and some great music. The characters Tiger and Zoya are daredevils and I feel audiences enjoy watching these two spies back in action, saving the day.”
In Ek Tha Tiger, Kaif played a Pakistani spy named Zoya who falls in love with an Indian agent code named Tiger, played by Salman Khan. Disillusioned with their respective agencies, the pair deflect to fight the baddies on their own terms. They return in Tiger 3, directed by Maneesh Sharma, but are framed as traitors and set out on a guns-blazing adventure to clear their names.
Kaif, one of the highest-paid actresses in Bollywood, says training for the physically demanding role in Tiger 3 was the toughest of her career so far.
“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,” she says. “My action prep was at least for about two months. We wanted Zoya to look agile, have more speed, and greater strength. I really had to go through the grind. We also had some of the best action teams in the world training and shooting these sequences
“Every Tiger film has taken Zoya’s character a notch above, and she has fought harder, and it has been bloodier. That’s the USP of the character, which I love.”
Kaif, who was recently named an Etihad Airways ambassador, says she's happy to reunite with Khan for the film. The pair briefly dated in 2003, the year she made her Bollywood debut.
“Salman at the core is the same person he has always been – loyal and he a has a great heart,” she says. “As an actor, our fans love our chemistry and it is always wonderful to work with him.”
Tiger 3 is out at the cinemas on Sunday