‘It’s important for me not to lose my soul’

After several near misses, what with the crazy schedule and promotional tours for her forthcoming film Ki & Ka, when we finally manage to pin down Kareena Kapoor for a phone chat, it proves to be too quick and rushed for comfort.

Speaking from her car somewhere in Delhi, with honking horns providing the background score, she promises us a longer interview in Mumbai “once you have liked the film.”

Is she that confident about her release this Friday? “People will have varied opinions on it for sure, but no one will say it is not a good film,” she says. For Kapoor, it’s a sensible, happy, positive, and modern film.

A still from the film Ki & Ka . Kareena Kapoor says it’s a sensible, happy, positive, and modern film—Photo: Special arrangement

When she says the film is modern does it mean that her role is in the same contemporary, forward-looking genre as Ek Main Aur Ekk Tu (EMAET) and Yuva, were? Absolutely, she pipes in. “Shakun Batra was ahead of his times in EMAET, and has gone a notch higher now with Kapoor & Sons .”

For Kapoor, the Ki & Ka filmmaker R Balki has also always been ahead of the curve: in 2007, he made Cheeni Kum, a love story with a younger woman and an older man. In 2016, he serves up Ki & Ka, a film about a stay-at-home husband and an out-on-work wife.

It’s the concept that first caught her eye. Her character, Kia, is a modern, urban working woman. “That’s me in real life as well. The role fit me like a glove, and I really enjoyed doing it.” As is evident from the description, the film claims to challenge gender roles in Indian society but in a fun, tongue-in-cheek, yet heart-warming way. “In the garb of entertainment, it gives messages and provides inspiring thoughts to ponder on.”

What does she think of the gender issue, and the role reversal propagated in the film? Does she believe in it too? “I believe in equality,” she is quick to say. Though she doesn’t want to be a card-carrying, activist feminist, she feels her life itself is a proof of intrinsic progressiveness. “Both my sister and I have worked and have had a liberal set of parents who encouraged it all along the way. I married Saif after four years of living in with him.”

A look at her filmography shows that alongside blockbusters such as 3 Idiots, Bodyguard, Bajrangi Bhaijaan, Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham… she has had performance-oriented movies like Jab We Met, Chameli, Refugee, Omkara, Talaash in her prtfolio as well. Would Ki & Ka evidently belong to the latter? For Kapoor, such distinctions in cinema are no longer valid. “Over the years, lines are blurring between all kinds of cinema, all that matters ultimately is a good film, specially now when the audience has become far more accepting of all kinds of filmmaking.” So a blockbuster could have good content and an experimental film can be thoroughly entertaining. And she herself is not averse to any kind of cinema.

In other words, a Ki & Ka doesn’t rule out a Golmaal 4 in the future. “After all mainstream Hindi commercial cinema is in my DNA.”

But she is not in that zone where she’d greenlight five films at a go. She is not keen on too much work, and is only looking for films that excite her.

Coming up next in June is another off-track film, Udta Punjab, on the drug problem in Punjab, which according to her is a far darker and grittier film than anything she has done before.

At a time when her contemporaries have made a habit of being in the news, Kapoor seems way too removed from the scene of action. Is the idea of standing apart and being disconnected conscious? She thinks it’s to do with her personality, the way she is. “I am old school. If someone wants my opinion they will ask for it. I won’t talk about anything myself.” So, certainly, there’s no full-time engagement with social media for her, no perennial tweets on anything and everything. After 16 years in filmdom, there is no spirit of mindless competitiveness in her either but a strange restfulness despite the running around.

In fact, she believes in taking little breaks away from work, even at the height of success: “An actor needs to breathe a little. It’s important for me not to lose my soul.”