The big Eid release, the Salman Khan starrer Ek Tha Tiger, opened on the big screen last week. Bollywood Hungama’s Devansh Patel landed an interview with director Kabir Khan about the movie, regarded |as a volatile mix of two Khans (Kabir |and Salman) coming together, both possessing relentless energy…

Was it really difficult to tame the Tiger?

Not at all. My approach to everything in life is to look for the positives. But why would I complain if I have India’s biggest star to mount the biggest film Yash Raj has ever made? Salman Khan is in a never-before-seen avatar. Yet there is still his inherent charm and all the elements of Salman. That’s the reason we took him – we wanted a larger-than-life actor to portray a larger-than-life character.

Salim Khan said Ek Tha Tiger is a landmark film for Salman – your job’s done!

Salim complimenting me on the film is a dream come true. We studied him while we were learning screenwriting. He was India’s finest at one point.

Knowing Salman Khan is the hero of your film, did you compromise in the story-telling?

I never compromised on the story of Ek Tha Tiger just because Salman was in it. I always do a rewrite after the cast is locked. Adi Chopra and I agreed on how the story had shaped up. I mean, how many actors are there in this industry who you can call Tiger and not feel cheesy about? When Salman walks, you feel it’s the Tiger walking. Salman was always the right choice for the role.

Many think you cater to a very specific genre when you make movies.

The three films I’ve made are different from each other in genre. If you are reacting to strong contemporary and real content then yes, I make such films.I will always want to mount my films with a strong real backdrop. I can’t write my films in la-la land. Ek Tha Tiger is as real as it gets.

Given your fascination with characters, would you love to write a biopic next?

I would love to write a biopic. One of the greatest drawbacks of our industry is that we don’t take back anything from our contemporary history, or our past. There are so many stories that can be made. Look at Sean Penn in Milk and look at Irrfan Khan in Paan Singh Tomar. These are engaging stories. I cannot adjust to writing anything fake about my characters.

And you have a good ear for music, too.

More than just the songs, I love the background score. That’s a great tool for the director to take the narrative forward. I am very happy with what Julius Packiam has created… There are really good action scenes backed with brilliant background score.

Salman is loved for the way he says his dialogue. Won’t it make sense to release the best dialogue from Ek Tha Tiger after the film’s release?

It would be a great idea if we released an Ek Tha Tiger dialogue CD. I would love to do that. We have also done something similar with the Tiger song. We’ve cut some dialogue over a composition. But a “dialogue CD” could work wonders.

Enough about the Tiger, let’s talk about the Tigress.

(Laughs) Katrina Kaif’s role in Ek Tha Tiger is five steps beyond New York. Yes, we underplayed her in the trailers, but we couldn’t give away too much about her. It’s a role to die for, for any actresses. I am not saying this because I wrote it, but because it’s opposite Salman Khan.

Salman said your career starts with Ek Tha Tiger. What do you have to say to that?

He said so because he knows for a fact that Ek Tha Tiger is the most high-profile film of mine – and for him, too. What he’s trying to say is that from here on I will be known as the “Man who made the Tiger” (laughs).

How’s your journey been so far with the Yash Raj Films (YRF)?

It’s never been difficult to convince Aditya or Yash Chopra about the subjects I’ve directed for Yash Raj Films. They’re such solid producers. When I did Kabul Express, Adi stood behind me like a rock. He got threats from the Taliban. On paper, New York was a very risky film because it was a dark political thriller. It was backed brilliantly by YRF. Even with Tiger, for them to give me the mandate to make their most expensive film is quite something.

What are your thoughts on the success of the film at the box office?

Numbers are important and everyone needs to make a profit. Movies need to push beyond numbers.

What’s Mini’s take on Ek Tha Tiger?

My wife, Mini, is my greatest critic. She has an Ek Tha Tiger hangover! She has been a part of the scripting process and for her to like it is quite special because most of the written material changes on screen. –