Pride & pedigree

Pride & pedigree

Pride & pedigree

She’s looking true-blue royal. A decade-and-a-half after she entered the film industry, Kareena Kapoor Khan remains a Diva.

Scratch the surface of her stylised, ooh-la-la-sophisticated exterior, and you find a classic Kapoor — grounded, pedigreed, completely passionate about Hindi (mainstream) cinema and above all, a hardcore realist.

Her marriage to Saif Ali Khan has only made her more secure than she ever was — note how she is as completely chilled-out about praising other heroines as she is about calling a spade a spade. Warm and cordial, Kareena remains a delight, like her entire clan.

She provides the comic and romantic relief in Singham Returns, portraying “possibly the only female auto-rickshaw driver in India” who woos the stern Bajirao Singham, played by Ajay Devgn again.

Candidly she quips, “People have appreciated me in comedy. After serious stuff like Heroine and Satyagraha, it was refreshing for me to do a light role again. And I keep saying ‘Aata maazhi satakli (Now I have blown my fuse)!’, Ajay’s famous line in the first Singham, to him! Yes, our romance is in the form of comedy. And I would say that the comedy here is funnier than in the Golmaal films.”

Acting her age

Ajay and she have shared a great rapport for over 20 years, even before she became an actress. “His only bad trait is smoking, and I can’t stand that,” she grumbles with a smile. “He would do it all the time when we were sharing lunch, so we have a pact now — eat lunches separately.”

In the same breath, she adds, “But his good points completely outweigh this. He’s a great guy — responsible, consistent, good natured, a dear and dependable friend who can give great advice and someone with whom it will be great to catch up with even 20 years later.”

With the exception of two films with Imran Khan, Kareena has stuck to Ajay, her husband Saif, the three Khans, Akshay Kumar and Hrithik Roshan as co-stars. But that also means secondary roles in these mega-stars’ films. “Oh, I am happy doing these mega-box-office movies, and frankly, hoping for a film with a Varun Dhawan would be pushing it too far, right?” she asks, sensibly. “I would love to have dinner with him, but I cannot be his leading lady.”

Practical and pragmatic, she wants to know which great roles are waiting for grabs. “I have always been a commercial actor, like all the Kapoors. Though I have now taken to reading the offered scripts page by page, which I did not always do before, I would hate to do a film where people say, ‘Picture kharaab thi, but the heroine was good’, which happened with Heroine.”

Billed now to do cameos in her husband’s Happy Ending and in Gabbar starring Akshay Kumar, Kareena will be Salman Khan’s leading lady in Kabir Khan’s Bajrangi Bhaijan. “It’s a different story, and it is a privilege working with a director who has done three back-to-back films with Katrina Kaif and now wants to work with me. For Salman too, it is a different film, a human story.”

And Kareena would rather do her own thing than get into zones like Mardaani and Mary Kom. “I can’t do action, and I love what I am doing,” she insists. “I really applaud Rani Mukerji and Priyanka Chopra — hats off to them for attempting such different genres. However, mere liye dance hi theek hai. Song and dance are in my blood and so is acting, which I would like to do even when I am 80.”

The actress says, “I would love to do an Arth, or a Bridges of Madison County. Do you know that the last new Hindi film I have watched completely is Dabangg in 2010? I am hooked to old Hindi movies on Zee while Saif watches English films. I am in love with the old Gol Maal, Angoor, Aradhana, Kagaz Ke Phool, Abhimaan or my grandfather Raj Kapoor’s films Boot Polish, Awara, Aah or Prem Rog.”

The ‘right’ kind of film

If that is the case, why does she not herself produce a Hindi film of the kind she likes? “Oh, I would rather leave making films to Saif,” she smiles in reply. “Look, I have worked with the best in the industry — whether directors or co-actors. I have never worked for an award — no Kapoor has, and I am happy that Saif got a National award for Hum Tum. An instinctive actress like me is not really looking for that challenging role. But yes, I don’t know why they do not remake Aradhana or Abhimaan?”

Now that Shuddhi has finally got a hero in Salman Khan, will she again do the film? “I don’t think I will have the dates they would want, but let’s see,” she says. “For me, when I signed the film earlier, the big attraction was Hrithik Roshan. With Salman, I am already doing a film now.”

Kareena admits that she feels blessed to have got at least two innings with each Khan, including her husband and Imran. Terming Aamir Khan and Salman Khan as her favourites, she notes that Aamir was the only actor whose fan she was (since Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak) and with whom she wished to work when she came in. “I am lucky I bagged two films with him, including his biggest film, 3 Idiots. And it was a difficult job standing out in the film in a way that I would be remembered.”

Kareena has also turned down a few films that went on to be huge hits. So, does she regret that? “Regrets,” she stresses, “are not for me. I never look back.” She mentions the example of Zoya Akhtar’s Dil Dhadakne Do, in which she loved everything except for the fact that she would have had to be out on a cruise for three whole months. “Imagine being away from home for that long.”

Kareena admits that she also cannot understand Ranbir Kapoor’s penchant for “different” cinema, as she does not herself want to “be different for the sake of being different”. “But I am sure he will do something commercial soon,” she says. “He is very clear about what he wants — and most youngsters’ choices are like his,” she says.

She would also like to tell her cousin Armaan Jain to be resilient after the failure of his first film, Lekar Hum Deewana Dil. “We must take a hit in the same way as a flop,” she reminds us. “He has just begun his career. Ranbir and I also started out with failure.”

Finally, what is her reaction to Soha Ali Khan’s recent engagement to Kunal Khemu? “I am truly happy, because I have seen how happy and smiling she is whenever he is around,” says she with an instant smile. “And that’s what love is, right? May he keep her smiling all the time.”