Saif Ali Khan and Katrina Kaif root for the freedom of choice

On India's 69th Independence Day, 'Phantom' co-stars Saif Ali Khan and Katrina Kaif tell us what it means to be part of the rapidly changing nation today...

Saif ali Khan and Katrina Kaif take a break from the promotions of their upcoming film, 'Phantom', to share their thoughts on India and its changing dynamics on the occasion of the country's 69th Independence Day today...

Katrina Kaif (left) and Saif Ali Khan. Pics/Rane Ashish

Unparalleled warmth
Saif Ali Khan: I love this country. People don't get bound by rules, they just get things done. There is flexibility and there's passion -- passion in movies, sports, in various areas and sections. People who have grown up here, like me, should understand that it is more important to contribute rather than complain about infrastructure and other lacunae. Everyone has a responsibility.

Katrina Kaif: It is one country where everyone is inviting and welcoming. There is so much beauty in the chaos. It seems that everything is confused and messy, but that is what makes it such a warm place. It's got the nicest atmosphere than any country I've been to. You might like some foreign countries for shopping, eating, etc, but when it comes to people, here's where I find the warmest ones.

Youth changing face of India
Saif: India is developing pretty fast, thanks to the youth. There used to be a chalta hai attitude which does not work any longer. Take fitness, for instance. Earlier, people used to be like let's have one more paratha and be fat; they didn't bother. But now they are all so health conscious, it's wonderful. All we need is freedom — the freedom of choice. I think we need to get along better. We used to be a more secular and tolerant country. But now we are becoming more polarised, whether it is with religion or other things. That's not good. I don't like the fact that Aurangzeb Road is being renamed as Abdul Kalam Street. Aurangzeb was not a great man, but was part of our medieval history. You can't erase a part of our history just like that. We need to get back to the tolerant people we were. Our attitudes are changing and we have started banning things and that is not cool. We are the land of Kamasutra, so, perhaps, that's why they had to unban porn. It's not about wanting to do something, but about the option to choose if we want to do it or not.

Katrina: They unbanned it? That's not very cool (smiles). When we are the land of Kamasutra, why would we need porn videos?

Saif (laughing): Oh, do you know one woman in seven watches porn? What I really want to say is that we are famous for being a secular, tolerant country and we must celebrate that aspect. We are changing and that's not nice.

Katrina: I think the youth already knows what they want. No one needs to tell them anything. They know their minds, their desires. They will follow it by the way they live and not by what they preach. They like to follow people who share their ideologies and practise what they preach.

On sexism and other issues
Katrina: Every woman at some point, especially in glamour industry, faces sexism. It could be the way someone is looking at you, or talks slightly down to you. Your male counterpart is given much more importance. In smaller towns, they address the man first, so complete equality is not there in all parts of this country. I do see that changing though, both in the country and within the industry as well. We are treated with a lot more dignity and equality now.
Let me tell you this instance. Recently I was invited on a platform where professionals from all fields were part of the panel. The audience had many dignitaries. So when it was my turn, 80 per cent of the questions addressed to me were about my supposed relationship with whoever in my life. I was so surprised. I do understand this curiosity about our lives. I would want to know who Saif went for dinner with or who he was chatting up. But there is a place for everything. If you want to respect a professional and invite her on such a platform, speak about her work. Would you call a man on stage and talk about his girlfriend?

Saif: You are right. Things are changing. Both Katrina and I have female managers, as opposed to male secretaries actors used to have earlier. All producers like talking to efficient women. I think the media somewhere needs to
take the blame for objectifying (women). I agree with what Katrina says. I have noticed that with my wife too. Most questions are about marriage and then pregnancy. She is also a professional, don't look at her as a baby-making factory.

Katrina: Why are we not celebrating what we are doing now? The other thing that really gets my blood boiling is being referred to as someone's girlfriend. Don't we have our own identities?

Saif: One thing you must give it to the film industry is for that it is secular and democratic. We ultimately worship the rupee, so it is capitalist and hugely democratic. Only thing that succeeds here is success. A spot boy can become a superstar if he has the talent, no matter what religion he belongs to. That's great. The rest of the nation will find it difficult to be like that.

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