China and Pakistan are both strategic adversaries for India. But when it comes to cinema it pays to have a Chinese rather than a Pakistani leading lady in Bollywood. While Irrfan Khan promotes his new film Hindi Medium without his Pakistani leading lady, Salman Khan’s Chinese leading lady in Kabir Khan’s Tubelight is all set to join her superstar-hero in India for the promotion of their film.
Informs Kabir Khan, “Yes, Zhu Zhu is going to join Salman to promote Tubelight. What a gorgeous woman and a lovely actor! And what a delight to work with she is. She was such a positive presence on location.”
Kabir reiterates Zhu Zhu’s primacy in the film. “She is not just a side character. She has a major role. She plays a very important part. Does she speak Hindi in the film? I leave that for audiences to discover.”
The filmmaker who makes male-centric dramas feels the women are no pushovers in his cinema. “Whether it’s Katrina Kaif in Ek Tha Tiger and Phantom or Kareena Kapoor in Bajrangi Bhaijaan and now Zhu Zhu in Tubelight, the women in my films always have strong parts to play. I had told Kareena Kapoor during Bajrangi Bhaijaan, ‘You may have a smaller screen time. But you are the voice of the film.’ Likewise Zhu Zhu has less footage than Salman but she’s central to the plot.”
This equality of the genders is evident in Kabir’s own life. “Yes I’ve a very strong feminine presence in my life, whether it’s my wife, sister or mother, our family was always governed by the women folk. Somewhere that primacy of the female gender in my own life is bound to reflect in my cinema.”