Kareena Kapoor Khan
When Kareena tells you watching, working and loving films is all she cares to do in life, you believe her – because hers is the kind of passion that is palpable from the moment you set eyes on her. Spontaneous and brimming with unbridled energy, it is difficult to not take an instant liking to this feisty actor who has little qualms in opening up her life to you within the few hours you spend with her. A woman whose life has been shaped by first, her mother, then her sister, for Kareena, carrying her maiden name has actually served to be more of an impediment than a privilege….here she tells you why.
GJ: You’re the fourth generation of actors in your family, which has pretty much made Bollywood.
KK: Yes, my whole family is in movies. So, being an actress was something that came very naturally to me.
GJ: How did Karisma influence you as an actor?
KK: She influenced me in terms of getting my whole act together. I’m not even half as dedicated as her. She was one of the most professional actors of the time. Her hard work was definitely an inspiration for me. I can’t do the dances she did with Govinda. But our approaches to every situation are very different. I’m always very vocal about my faults and it helps me in my performance. I’m quite transparent with my emotions. Karisma is more restrained as an actor and as a person as well.
GJ: How did your mother contribute to shaping your personality?
KK: I’ve been brought up by my mom. There was that tradition of Kapoor daughters-in-law discontinuing with acting post marriage, like Ranbir’s and my mom. But later, it changed. My mom has influenced everything, right from my attitude to approach. She single-handedly brought us sisters up. I don’t think I can function without her. We’re both very attached to her.
GJ: How was it to take the lineage forward? Starting with Refugee, did you feel the pressure of carrying forward the ‘Kapoor’ tag?
KK: I think so; there was a huge amount of pressure. We always tend to sympathize with people from outside the cine-world, which is that they don’t have a Bollywood sense, and they get into the industry without any backing, etc., and then, they make it big. Hence, the industry is kind to such people. Of course, it is a combination of hard work and talent. But having a Kapoor name or any such name from the industry attached to yours means you have to prove yourself every step of the way. I’ve worked very hard in my own way to prove that I’m not just a glamorous girl. I have done substantial films where I’ve had great roles, and I am currently acting with Mr Bachchan, Ajay Devgan, and working in Prakash Jha’s film which is a political drama, something that I’ve not done before. I will always want to prove myself as an actor, even though I have been doing it for the last twelve years. It just doesn’t stop, and it’s not the success that I’m chasing. I simply enjoy the making of a film, and I enjoy acting. I don’t know anything else apart from acting because that is what I’ve always done: watched movies and I’m proud of that.
GJ: Before Omkara and Chameli happened, there were three years, from 2001 to 2004, which weren’t very favourable. Could you tell us more about that phase?
KK: I never want to think of those years. My films weren’t doing well. I now realize that there is always the right time, and especially in the film industry, and particularly for an actress. She suddenly blossoms and hits her peak. So those years were just not the time for me. There were other actresses who were older than me, and were experiencing the same at that time.
But if those three-four years had not happened, this would not have happened either; you would not have been interviewing me. I am glad I didn’t have everything on a platter, and had to go through a fair share of struggle. That’s why I cherish that. Of course, those were films which nobody wants to remember. But to me, it made Kareena Kapoor; it made me the girl who is very strong, wants to achieve her goal, who wants to be one of the superstars.
GJ: How important is it for you to earn money?
KK: Money is just incidental for me in this industry. It is obviously important in life. So, we must not take it lightly because nobody can survive on love and fresh air. I also value money because my mother has seen a lot of troubling times; my sister had to struggle a lot when my parents weren’t together. I’ve seen dark times, too, with my mother, and she still looks after my finances. No matter how old you are, when it comes to talking to your mother, you will always feel like a twelve-year-old, because she will advise you on everything. That’s so important and that’s also a part of me; that’s what I am. I’m actually quite a simple, down-to-earth girl, who can also sit around and shoot, and wait for hours for her shot, thanks to the influences of my mom and my sister.
GJ: How have those three years defined you as a person you are, because struggles really make us for who we are?
KK: I always say that if there is no failure, there is no success. It’s just the cycle of life. If there are tears, a smile always follows, and vice-versa. If there is happiness, there is sadness. That is the way God made things. The struggle had to be there for this moment to be. Jab We Met would not have been possible without that struggle. I played the character of Geet when I did not even imagine it would change my life to this extent.
GJ: Everybody knows Geet as a personality. It’s such a fabulous character and there is so much of you in it…
KK: But I never really thought about it. Sometimes, you don’t need to think about your character so much. You take it too seriously anyway.
GJ: I have to say I’ve watched the number ‘Fevicol se’, though I’ve not watched the movie Dabbangg 2. You’re amazing in it. You look fabulous. I think by far it is the best item number till date…
KK: I did the song after my wedding; everybody said they wanted a ‘size zero’, and it happened the way it did, with the weight. But it was great fun doing it. Of course, dancing with Salman is always so much fun.
GJ: You’ve done Omkara, Ashoka, Jab We Met, and K3G. Which has been your favourite performance till date?
KK: I would say Jab We Met. But, I think, there have been films like Chameli, Dev and also a film with Mani Ratnam, called Yuva, which was brilliant. I think it is easy to play a character, but difficult to play a normal girl, because to show normalcy on-screen, you just have to be great. You have to be a good actor to be normal on-screen. It is because everyone is trying to be a character which is like you, so you need to work on it and research it before playing it. But how to research normalcy! That was the brilliancy of Geet that she was a normal Punjabi girl, and that, I think, was the brilliancy in Yuva, too. So, these two characters have been my favourites.
GJ: You are the fourth generation Kapoor in the industry and you’ve got a splendid mass appeal. What do you have to say about being the most liked female actor by the country?
KK: I’m sure that will change. But of course, we strive to be there, we strive for that recognition. My mass appeal has also been because I understand the business a lot, since I’ve grown up watching films. My song-and-dance is like me drinking water and eating dal. No meal is complete without dal, rice and sabzi. I feel hungry if I don’t eat that, and that is what the masses also want. They just like the complete package of Indian women and somehow they like the glamorous diva, too. I don’t know how, but I’m able to strike that balance, between the personal and professional.
GJ: What makes both the sides of Kareena so lovable?
KK: The audiences like that. So many people said that I shouldn’t get married because married women are not well accepted in the industry. But I think there’s nothing sexier than being a married woman.
At times, foreign brands are alien to the Indian masses and the youth of our country. You’ll find them all at Zara and Mango because they can relate to these brands. That’s the reason why I’m always in casual tees. It’s just relatable. Being an actor is also about your fans being able to relate to you, and saying that I just want to be like her. That’s why I think people like me for who I am.
GJ: As a begum, do you think the choice of movies is going to change from this point onwards or as an actor, you just haven’t been redefined by the nuptial?
KK: I’m an actor by profession, and I respect my family that I’m married into, and the family comes first. Even though the title is not recognized, people do address me as Begum Pataudi. But my choice of films can never change because that’s a part of me, and it has made me who I am. People have loved me for my work and they look at me with admiration and respect because of my work and my choice of roles. So, my choice of roles can never change because my image has been that of a diva. But there also has been a side which is grounded, like the roles in Jab We Met, Golmaal 3 and Omkara.
I am no more Kareena Kapoor, I’m Kareena Kapoor Khan, which is great, and I understand my responsibility towards my own family as well as Saif’s. I’ve been a good child to my parents, and, hopefully, I will be a good child to my mother-in-law and the Pataudis, too. I did the number ‘Fevicol se’ after my marriage, and Saif likes the song. In fact, my first compliment was from him.
GJ: You were in a five-year live-in relationship, and were very outspoken about it, unlike other actors. You handled the media circus around it very gracefully, too. What kept you going throughout that time?
KK: Some people did object my being in a live-in relationship considering I was from the Kapoor family. I always spoke about it because I thought I was being honest to the media and to my fans. I wanted to have a live-in relationship because I thought it was time for me to move out of my mother’s home because I was working so much, and I would never get to see Saif. In Bollywood, the tried-and-tested formula always works, so why not try and test a relationship, too. There is nothing wrong in it.
GJ: You’re probably the only actor from the current generation who has been in a stable relationship and was outspoken about it, too, at all times…
KK: However, sometimes things don’t work out. I’ll be brave in my decisions, but with a slightly traditional approach. I’m an Indian girl at heart but my thoughts are slightly ahead of the times. And that’s a great approach to have, and all women should be like that.
GJ: Where did you get the confidence and grace from when it came to handling controversies and the media circus around them?
KK: I learnt a lot by observing my sister. Eventually, you do build your own image, your own ground and relationships in the industry. Everyone knew me as Karisma’s younger sister, and I love to be called that even today because I think she is brilliant. But eventually, you’ve to find your own way. And with the Kapoor lineage, the pressure was always on.
GJ: You made a public stage performance after your marriage…
KK: I just took a stand, in fact, just a little before the wedding that I will dance on stage. I will go to award functions when they invite me to perform on the stage, on my songs, because it is film-related and I do come from films. But I don’t dance at weddings, and that’s a personal choice that Saif and I have made. I have to draw the line somewhere. Of course, I’m an actor, so I should concentrate more on acting.
GJ: What is the best thing about being in a relationship with Saif?
KK: The best thing about being with Saif is also why I decided to marry him: because he is the right man for me. I come from a filmy family where everything is about movies. Obviously, there is so much more to experience in life apart from being an actress and going to the sets. I wanted to be with a man who can tell me stories, talk to me beyond movies. And that’s what Saif has brought into my life. And the bonus is that he is extremely charming and good-looking, too!
GJ: How would you describe your relationship with Saif’s children, Sara and Ibrahim?
KK: Both Sara and Ibrahim are very intelligent and bright. Being a mother is not something they would want from me. They are Saif’s children, and they have a wonderful mother who is bringing them up and they seem so happy. They will always come first in every situation in life because if Saif is not a good father, he is not a good man. I would want his focus to be on his children and when we will have our own children, they will all be siblings.
GJ: How do you feel being married, being a Begum, a Bollywood diva? Would it be right to say that you are karmically blessed?
KK: No, I’m not karmically blessed. It’s something that I’ve always wanted, all my life. You know as a child that this is what you want to be when you grow up. I wanted to be a big movie star, and I wanted to have a fairytale romance. I always wore my heart on my sleeves. It was a nice ride till I finally met Saif, and fell in love. It’s great; love is an enriching.
GJ: What’s brand Kareena?
KK: I don’t know. Like I said, the honesty has taken me a long way. The attitude of being a strong, honest and confident girl can never go wrong. People sometimes mistook my candid approach to be arrogant. In fact, I’ve been misunderstood and misquoted so many times.
Today, we need women to be independent. They should have the strength and confidence, and at the same time be passionate towards what they want from life. At the same time, respect for our traditions is also necessary. I don’t think I’ve ever done anything against the wishes of my family, or done something that I shouldn’t have done. I always do what I want, but I’m slightly traditional with my approach.
GJ: You did a clothing line with Globus which was very successful and now, there’s the book. Can we expect more creative pursuits beyond acting from you?
KK: Of course. I’m so much into clothing, I really want to design clothes or attach my name to something like a pair of jeans: a Kareena Kapoor jeans. So, I’m with Matrix and we’re talking to foreign brands whom we can bring down and attach my name to it. So, eventually, fashion would probably be a direction which I would think of. I come from a family of producers and directors, but I think you need to have more patience to be a director than an actor. And I don’t have that patience. I see myself acting forever. I mean, of course, when I’m forty or fifty years old, I’ll probably be doing different roles. I love Meryl Streep and I look up to her in every which way as a woman, as an actor. And I hope I can follow in her footsteps. I want to try different types of roles.
GJ: How would you describe yourself? Do you feel you are a style diva?
KK: I can be extremely stylish in my Zara t-shirt. I don’t need to wear Alexander Macqueen to be stylish. I would, sometimes, but I don’t need to. I think I’m born stylish. Style is comfort, it’s attitude, it’s everything. And that’s what even the book (The Style Diary of a Bollywood Diva, Kareena Kapoor, Rochelle Pinto, published by Penguin India, 2012) says. Money should be spent in the right places, at the right time.
Saif likes me glamorous; he doesn’t like me when I’m not glamorous. He certainly likes my look in Omkara, the way I look without make-up. But he prefers to go out on a date with the glamorous Kareena Kapoor.
GJ: How do you see the coming years, personally?
KK: Saif and Lolo’s children and I are like friends, and that’s important to me. They’re a part of our home and our family. Having children of my own is something both Saif and I haven’t yet discussed. For me, having a baby does not mean solidifying m marriage. I didn’t marry Saif to cement the relationship; I did it because I love him.
I definitely want to work for the next two years, and that’s my plan. I endorse around twenty-two brands and all contracts are valid for the next two-three years.
GJ: How have you changed as a person since Refugee?
KK: I’m more mellow and so much calmer as compared to before. Being married, age, some maturity and certain experiences… all that has helped. When you’re content with work and at home, it makes you calmer.
GJ: Everything seems quite perfect for you… What excites you when you wake up in the morning?
KK: I don’t know… probably the fact that I’m enjoying this whole experience of being an actor. But just being myself as Kareena Kapoor is also quite important. I need to be the girl I am and that’s something that excites me.