A fine balance

I intend to work till I am 80 - I think it is all about your passion, what you believe in, and getting that right balance between being a star & an ac

A fine balance

Very few actresses enjoy 15 years in the top slot, and Kareena Kapoor Khan recognises that. This song-and-dance specialist would now prefer to strike a balance between commercial and alternative cinema, but says, “it is something I have always done.” Chameli, Dev, Omkara and Heroine are examples of her acting prowess.

The actress, who kickstarted her career 16 years ago, looks slim, svelte and carries herself with panache. “I am not sure how many actresses reach this mark,” she says. “I intend to work till I am 80 — I think it is all about your passion, what you believe in, and getting that right balance between being a star and an actor. Also, an actor must keep looking good, for you are as old as you look.”

Hoping for hits

On the verge of releasing Bajrangi Bhaijaan with Salman Khan, she has signed three more films — Rajkumar Gupta’s thriller, in which she reportedly plays a schizophrenic, Abhishek Chaubey’s Udta Punjab, and R Balki’s next with Arjun Kapoor. Of course, she continues her tryst with song and dance cameos, the latest being in Karan Johar’s Brothers.

Speaking about her choice of assignments, the actress says, “Big bonanzas are in my blood. And when you work with a director for the first time, you have a fresh approach to the film. For me, Rajkumar, Abhishek and Balki are all new. It was a conscious decision to work with new directors, though I will always work with Rohit Shetty,” she chuckles.

She adds, “And all the roles are amazing. Udta Punjab has such a fabulous story that while it was being narrated, I was moved to tears. I knew I had to be a part of the film, no matter what. And when Balki narrated his script, I told him at interval point itself that I was doing it. I am an instinctive actress.”

Kabir Khan, her Bajrangi Bhaijaan director, is also a new director for her. “Kabir makes big, good-looking, larger-than-life films. But they always have a strong storyline. Bajrangi Bhaijaan has a strong, in-depth plot and lots of drama. I play a school teacher from Delhi’s Chandni Chowk who meets Salman and helps him take the small girl back home to Pakistan.”

“Even for Salman and his fans, this is a different film, and not what he does usually,” she smiles. “And that little girl, Harshali, is amazing. She’s the real star. Like if she was not in the mood to shoot for two or three hours, we all would have to wait.”

Bajrangi Bhaijaan is special to Kareena for two more reasons: one, she got to shoot in Kashmir for the first time. “All the Kapoors have shot there. I was the only one left, and it’s such a beautiful place.”

The other reason, of course, was Salman. “It’s my second film with him after Bodyguard, which was the first film produced by his sister Alvira and her husband Atul Agnihotri. And now I have the honour of being Salman’s heroine once again in his first production! This, I guess, smashes the myth that Salman only works with 18-year-old actresses. Here he has signed me, a married woman, and it is a big achievement that both Salman and Kabir want to work with me.”

We remind her that she had also done Kyon Ki… with Salman a decade back. “Yes, but that was so long back that it slipped my memory,” she laughs. “Besides, I feel that I have been working with Salman forever. I would accompany my sister Karisma whenever she shot with him — the first time was in 1990, 25 years ago, when she was shooting for Nischaiy.”

Kareena cannot stop raving about the actor —“He is simply India’s biggest superstar. But he does not feel it, and also does not let anyone else feel it.” She also shakes her head when asked if the tension he was undergoing about his court case ever showed in him during the Kashmir shoot. “He is such a strong person that such things never came in the way of his work, and it never showed,” she declares.

“Anyway, all the actors — Salman, Shah Rukh, Aamir, Akshay and Ajay are a lot more calmer today than they were earlier, and they are also a lot more good-looking.”

Marriage myths

Calling herself an extremely ambitious person, Kareena recalls how so many people had warned her against getting married. “They told me that married women do not get a lot of offers, but I never looked at it like that. I was already living with Saif years before we tied the knot. As for married women not getting the same opportunities — my mother-in-law (Sharmila Tagore) had crushed that belief long ago.”

She adds, “I am happy that Kabir thought this was a role only I could play, and Balki told me that he had written his new film with me in mind. After playing Anil Kapoor’s wife, I will be playing his nephew Arjun Kapoor’s wife in his film.”

What about her earlier statement that she would never work with heroes as young as Varun Dhawan? “Well, I cannot see myself dancing around a tree with him, though I love him and he is the dark horse among the youngsters. But here, the role has been written like that. And the younger lot of actors is so aware, a lot more conscious, and they are all brilliant.”
When will we see her with Shahid Kapoor, who had reportedly recommended her name for Udta Punjab? “I would love to work with him,” replies the actor. “But we need the right kind of script for that. Shahid and I do not have any scene together in Udta…, as it is a three-track story.”

Does she regret walking out of Dil Dhadakne Do after cousin Ranbir Kapoor stepped out? “Well, that was not the reason for my not doing the film. But I never look back or regret just because a film has done well. Come on, it’s neither Zoya Akhtar’s last film nor mine. The only regret in a way was that Zoya had approached me for a role and she is such a nice person.”

Finally, why does she do so many song and dance cameos? “Oh, I have made so many friends and I feel bad refusing any of them. These people have been an important part of my journey. Every top star has to do something like this, and I love song and dance anyway. But I promise you that my song in Brothers is different and special.”

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