Diva at large

Diva at large

From ‘Refugee’ to ‘Satyagraha’, in her 14-year journey in cinema, Kareena Kapoor Khan has proven her mantle with a variety of roles. The actress has a candid conversation with Rajiv Vijayakar about her experiences and future projects

Film stars are of various kinds: the meteors, long-term survivors, outsiders, insiders and finally, those to the manner born. Kareena Kapoor Khan is that long-distance runner from within the industry, who has been born with stardom surging through her veins. As she had said once, “The word film must have been the first that I uttered.”

The Kapoor pedigree looms large in Kareena’s confident persona, and now, by marriage to Saif Ali Khan, she’s become a (royal) Khan as well. Into her 14th year as an actor after the 2000 debut Refugee, she has had a great run at the box office and has — on the sheer strength of talent and charisma — made her box-office debacles seem inconsequential.

What’s more, for such a young actor, her achievements, both ‘trivial’ and substantial, have been formidable indeed: two films named Talaash (2003/2012), the latter being co-produced by superstar Aamir Khan, a home production of Salman Khan (Main Aur Mrs Khanna), two home productions of Shah Rukh Khan (Asoka and RA.One), an Ajay Devgn production (All The Best), multiple films with the superstars led by the record-smashing 3 Idiots, heroine-centric roles like Chameli (a middle-of-the-road film when she was almost a newcomer) and Heroine, and a voice-over for an animation film’s lead — Roadside Romeo.

What’s more, the new Begum of Pataudi has even sung a solo song in Dev and has survived the onslaught of ‘Youngisthan’ as represented by Deepika Padukone and Sonakshi Sinha.

Ups & downs

The first film for which she shot after her 2012 marriage, Satyagraha, did not do too well when released last month, but that has not deterred Kareena’s career. A sport in her interaction with the media, she played a scribe in the film, and admires the tenacity and dedication of the breed, when we asked her then if she ever felt like going on a ‘satyagraha’ (protest) against the now-prevalent overdose of print and TV promotions and the same old questions from the channels?

“That’s how it has become now,” she smiled warmly. “Yes, I could protest, but we know we have to do it, and it is fun actually. As for the media, my role in Satyagraha is that of ‘conscience’, of ‘truth’. Among all the men, it is my character as the female journalist that is, therefore, the most important. Journalists always have to dig out and speak the truth, and I was all for them even before I played one in this film. The media is both the voice and conscience of the nation.”

Life after marriage, she says, is pretty much the same. “There is no change actually — and the reasons are clear. I was in a live-in relationship with Saif for many years before we wed. We have always seen the best side of each other. Saif is the same as he was before marriage, and hopefully, will never change. In fact, we are surprised whenever people ask what difference marriage has made to our relationship. Why should there be any difference?”

She goes on, “And as far as responsibilities are concerned, I haven’t changed either. From childhood, I have been a responsible girl — towards my father (Randhir Kapoor), mother (erstwhile actor Babita), sister (Karisma Kapur) and myself. I have always believed in the right priorities and a balance between career and family, because they are the one fixed factor in a changing and unfaithful world. I am built to let my heart rule my head and they are the only ones who understand that.”

How was it working with Amitabh Bachchan again, nine years after Dev? “Like with Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham… and the film you mention, it was great fun, and even then we had enjoyed working together,” she replies, diplomatically silent about the ‘family’ reasons why they had not worked together in the interim.

Choice of films

Kareena had recently turned down a film with cousin Ranbir Kapoor playing her brother because the latter declined the (Zoya Akhtar) movie. Why has she not yet worked with dad Randhir Kapoor (now on a good journey as character artiste), uncle Rishi (who is doing several films) and even Karisma? Her elder sis had done the voiceover for her for a small section of Bodyguard, when Kareena had to speak in a ‘different’ timbre.

“Oh, you remember that,” she smiles. “My character had to call up Salman Khan several times pretending to be someone else and that’s why Karisma had come in on Salman’s request — they are great friends and have done so many films together. Yes, I know no one signs a Kapoor with me.” A mock pout follows, and then she declares, “I would love to work with them all. Because the Kapoors are the best.”

How different it is for her when she does socially-relevant movies like 3 Idiots, Heroine and Satyagraha and when she is cast in one of her normal love stories, rom-coms or action dramas?  “There is nothing different for me,” she says after a moment’s thought. “I did Chameli, an issue-based social film, when I was all of 22, and people had then advised me that I should not take up such roles.”

Coming up next are Budtameez Dil, her first film with Emraan Hashmi, Karan Agneepath Malhotra’s Shuddhi with Hrithik Roshan — she is working with him after a gap of 12 years — and Gori Tere Pyar Mein with Imran Khan, all coincidentally produced by Karan Johar, and Happy Ending, Saif’s home production.

Kareena says that she is always inspired whenever a role has been written for her. “When a filmmaker tells me that a script is written with me in mind, I am charged,” she smiles. “And that happens in almost all cases now.” Signing a film, she says, is thus more about her wanting to do it rather than any single aspect like the role or the filmmaker. “And yes, I never do films for awards. Also, in this line, we often do films out of relationships. But whether it is Bodyguard, Ek Main Aur Ekk Tu or Talaash, my roles are outstanding,” she states with pride.

Having said that, the actor is also proud of every single film in which she has acted. “Who does not have flops? I was paid good money for all my movies and did my job well. For certain reasons, some movies never succeeded. But why should I not be proud of them all when I had decided to do them?” she wants to know.

Finally, having acted in Helen’s role in the remake of Don, we ask if she would like to essay any of her mother-in-law Sharmila Tagore’s great roles in a remake. The reply is instant: “Amar Prem! But I firmly believe that classics should not be remade.”

And with that, the Diva rises. The interview is over.

Comments (+)