An Exclusive interview with Kareena Kapoor, pens Sarita A Tanwar

Mumbai,Sarita A Tanwar: Meeting Karena Kapoor Khan is always fun. She is delightful in a very blond way. But don’t mistake her for being dumb. Had she been, she would not have survived in the cutthroat film industry for over 15 years now. She’s worked with the biggest actors and best directors. She has always reinvented herself every few years. She begun her career with Tusshar Kapoor and now, gears up to work with Arjun Kapoor, who was just 15 when she started her career, it’s been an interesting journey. Sitting in the sea-facing suite of a five-star hotel, with her entourage, Bebo chats about her man (Saif) her ex (Shahid) her lover (Karan Johar!). Bebo, like her films is always entertaining. Read on…

Today, there’s a lot of brouhaha over films like Piku and Tanu Weds Manu Returns, but you did films like Chameli, Heroine and Jab We Met many years ago. Is it because of the social media explosion that the impact is more now?
Yes, of course. But I feel the kind of impact that Jab We Met and Chameli had was far more. People are talking about it till today. For me, they will always be my iconic films. I mean it’s not like you can forget good films. People still talk about Kagaz Ke Phool or Amar Prem, which were made way back in the day; there was no social media then. Honestly, I have nothing against the social media explosion and the fact that everybody is on Twitter and Instagram. I feel that it helps you connect with your fans. But I don’t know how much it pulls people to the theatre. Because various films are marketed on social media platforms and while certain films do well, certain films don’t. So that can’t be the benchmark.

Sure, if the film is good, it will run.
Exactly. TWMR and Piku — I haven’t seen them — but I believe the story and the performances are unbelievable. So, obviously, it’s the content that’s is responsible for the final box office numbers.

What do would you consider your major acheivement in your career?
I feel there are two major achievements. One is that I worked with Anil Kapoor and now I am working with Arjun Kapoor. Fifteen years here and I am still running, I’m still at the same position in this industry, whether it’s working with Salman Khan who was once working with Karisma and is now my hero. I feel that’s a huge achievement. I have done two rounds with the Khans and the fact that they are still working with me, says something. I have worked in two Talaashs in my career. (Grins) Second would be the fact that I have been pitted against every actress in every generation, I think that’s a big achievement.

Now you have been compared to Alia!
Yes, Can you believe it? Next is going to be my niece Samaira. Lolo keeps telling me that you will be one actress who will be pitted against Samaira. That would be the greatest compliment that I can ask for.

She wants to act? Do you see the signs already?
A little bit, but she is more of a bookworm now. I think this generation, the young kids. They like Bollywood movies and watch them but are not as crazy as we used to be. If you ask her, ‘Do you want to go and watch a film, she will like be ‘What film? When? Why?’ She’s quite happy on her iPad playing, or on her Kindle reading. But Sara and Ibrahim love Bollywood.

I believe you have taken up reading.
Yes. And by the way, I am on my ninth book. Can you believe it… a girl who never used to read?

I’m in shock! Ninth book!
Right now, I am reading The Kind Worth Killing by Peter Swanson. I couldn’t sleep and was reading till 2 am. And Saif had passed out at 10.30 pm! I couldn’t put the book down. I am obsessed with finishing this now.

Who recommends books to you?
This book was given to me by one of Saif’s friends from London. He is a publisher, and he knows that I love crime thrillers. I have read six books by Michael Connelly. It’s nice because I think Saif looks at me and says, ‘I am going to give you a book shelf and a new house which is only going to have your books.’ He says, ‘I just feel really proud when I look at you reading and this is one change that I have brought in you.”

Any plans to work with Saif again?
I would love to work with Saif, but I am not sure he would want to. If I was approached for a film with him, I would do it. But it hasn’t happened for a while now. I am open to it, but I don’t know if he is. I don’t know somehow he says working with your wife, I guess he feels some tension. He says it’s not as comfortable as working with somebody you doesn’t know.

Would you work with Shahid?
I am working with everybody and I work for anybody who pays me and who has got a good script as long as I have the dates.

Films that you turned down went on become big hits. Any regrets?
Not at all. I think we are actors and we select scripts according to what suits us at that time.

Why did you walk out of Shuddhi?
When Hrithik didn’t do the film, I don’t think it just made sense. Because that film I think was all about Hrithik and Kareena coming back.

After Salman walked out of the film, #BringBackHrithikKareena was trending for two days…
Yes, I know. I am not on Twitter and Instagram but I get my information from sources. So many people now.

Karan Johar didn’t have a problem with you walking out of the film?
Karan and I can never have a problem. He is part of my family, he is like a brother to me. I would talk to him about so many other things apart from what film he is doing etc. I don’t think I have ever asked Karan ever in the 15-17 years that we have been friends, ‘What film are you making, Karan?’ Or ‘I want to be a part of it.’

But why? You should be able to ask that of a friend.
I have never asked any producer what film they are making. I have never told them that I want to be a part of any film.

Why not? Most actresses do it.
I have faith in my talent. I have never done that. I most definitely don’t feel the need to do it now. Especially with someone like Karan. It’s like, never. If he has something for me, he will call. He knows my work, he knows my talent. We have done some great films, some not so great movies, but that’s a journey of an actor and a producer. Karan and I are friends so we can never have problems. (giggles) He is my lover.

Any regrets about not doing Dil Dhadakne Do?
Just one. That I missed an opportunity to work with Zoya Akhtar, but it’s not her last film and definitely not mine. Not because of anything else, but because I think she is a wonderful girl and she’s just a brilliant director and I think her energy is just right.

And Ram Leela?
It just never worked out with Sanjay Leela Bhansali, sadly. But I think it worked out better for him. I have no regrets at all.

All actresses are attempting different kinds of cinema, your thoughts?
I am very proud to be a commercial actress. I don’t know why it’s being made to be a crime to be a part of film with the Khans because everybody under the sun wants to work with Salman. I have always said that I want to strike a balance between being part of fun, entertaining, commercial films because that’s also who I am. I come from a Bollywood family and have grown up on song and dance. But yes, I want to do great roles, which I think I am ready for now. I think I’m balancing commercial movies and some great roles. I am very excited about working with Balki.

Amongst — Alia, Parineeti and Shraddha, who has that spark to get to the top?
Definitely, Alia Bhatt.

Tired of being compared to her?
(Smiles) No! I just hope she is not tired. It’s a compliment that I have been pitted against all these young girls, but I think that’s fine. I like Alia. I also haven’t seen the work of other actresses.

You watch films of your contemporaries?
I watch some movies. I love watching movies on the flight and all. But I never go to see trials and previews because I am not fake. I cannot fake praise for a film. Also, I don’t like going and socialising. I prefer to see a film in a theatre. These days, for trial shows, you have to do hair and make-up because you have to pose for photos and then give bytes. What’s with this everybody going to each other’s trials… I am really happy sitting at home and reading a book. I am not being a snob. I don’t go to see my own films at the trials, I’ll watch it on the flight or I’ll watch it on DVDs.

Deepika Padukone thinks it’s wrong for people to slot you and her in the same category because you started much earlier. Your comment.
I think she is absolutely right. I don’t know why everyone is compared to me. But now I am like, ‘Accha, theek hai’. I have become immune to it now. Fifteen years and now, I think I should be immune to it by now, at least.

Has marriage made you less ambitious about your career?
No, I think I was always like this. I want to have it all, that’s why I decided to get married. I can’t be somebody who says ‘Okay, work is my only thing, all I need is just to work.’ I can’t be like that. Everyone says personal life can wait. I want to tell the young girls,‘Trust me, there is no later.’ It’s now that you have to work and experience other things in life. Your life cannot be only your work. I am shooting for 25 brands, I am doing three films, but I still have time to read, travel, to unwind, and chat with Saif. So, no, my priorities haven’t changed. I am obsessed about my work but I am also obsessed about having a full life. So it’s a nice balance. I am doing work at my own pace and I want to work and I want to be married, I want to read my books, I want to travel. I am very greedy but I am not greedy as much only for good roles, I am greedy for a good life.

You guys travel a lot. Every time I connect with you, you are either going on a vacation or returning from one.
(Screams) No, no don’t say that! Even my mom is saying, “Naam kharab ho gaya, hai, din bhar holiday ke liye ja rahi hai. That’s not true. We club work and pleasure. If I am shooting a brand or a film in London, I extend and stay back and Saif joins me and vice versa. We are trying to always balance it out. You know both of us are working, so to take out time for each other is important. Which is why no time for added distractions like Instagram and Twitter.

Doesn’t the number game bother you? Or you are beyond that now?
I don’t think it ever bothered me earlier and most definitely, it can’t bother me now. I am a very secure person and in a very secure space.

Saif is going through a phase where he hasn’t had a hit in the last two years. Any advice you’d give him?
No. I am nobody to give anybody advice. Anybody who gives me advice, I never take it. So my advice is that don’t take advice from anyone. Do what you want to do. I think an actor’s mistakes are their own. My mistakes are my own and I would not like to take advice from anyone. Likewise for him. I mean a couple of mistakes here and there, please you can’t crucify an actor for that. Some films will be great and some films will not be so great.

And finally, any thoughts on Shahid’s marriage?
I wish him all the best. It’s a great decision. I met him at YRF a few months ago and he told me he was getting married and I congratulated him.

Your view on arranged marriage?

I think he can make it work. He has changed and matured and he knows what is best for him.