Our meeting with Kareena Kapoor came with a request: No questions on her wedding with Saif Ali Khan, please. But when we met her at the flat she shares with Saif, filled as it is with paintings, sketches of Hollywood classics, caricatures and cartoons, books, family portraits and framed photos of Saif and Kareena; The couple and his son Ibrahim and daughter Sara, etc., we can’t help it.
We have to ask about their relationship. Because if the flat radiates the taste of the nawab, it also has the Bohemian touch of the heroine. Elated at being praised for her performance in Heroine, Kareena let us into her heart.
Kareena Kapoor at Lakme Fashion Week
Everyone is praising your performance in Heroine. What’s Saif’s take on it?
Saif doesn’t watch that many Hindi movies. Jab We Met (2007) was the last film of mine that he watched, and Dabangg (2010) was the last Hindi film he watched! As for Heroine, he is least bothered about the hoopla around it.
The film industry is cruel to married female actors. Are you ready for that?
I am shocked by this cynical and jaded thought! I would never compromise my career for my love or vice versa. They are two separate paths in my life. Look at my mother-in-law. Her best works were after her marriage. She is a huge inspiration and power figure for me. She supports my decision to continue to work and so does Saif. He is free to work with whoever he chooses to and I can work with whoever I wish to. Who knows! I may be the game changer!
As Kareena Kapoor Khan?
Why not? Saif and I have been living together for five years. We bought this place together and did it up together. I have been to Pataudi several times. Everyone knows about it. But we also have our own lives. We do our respective movies and come back home to each other. Being together hasn’t changed our work status, so how is it going to change now?
But won’t being Mrs Saif Ali Khan mark a new chapter in your life?
Seriously, what’s wrong with everyone! Saif and I just cannot fathom the hype around the wedding. Listen, I am already married! We just have to legalise it on paper and we are doing that soon!
What are your honeymoon plans?
None, ya! We go on holidays as if there’s no tomorrow. The other day my friend Arjun Kapoor (Boney Kapoor’s son) told me that if Saif and I go on another holiday again, it’ll be our 250th honeymoon! But in December we are taking off again.
What’s your relationship with Saif’s children?
Great, touch wood! I love them a lot and get the same love and respect from them. They are growing up fast. Sarah looks so lovely!
Madhur had approached you for his earlier movies Page 3 (2005) and Fashion (2008). What was it about Heroine that appealed to you?
During Page 3 and Fashion, I was very caught up. The characters I was doing were also lighter and bubblier. But by the time this movie came, I was done with light roles. Heroine is about a declining and imbalanced superstar — a very brave and bold role. I wanted to test whether I could carry a role like this. I have given 200 per cent to this role. She’s a very complex character, very aggressive, manipulative and bold, yet she’s very fragile. And the only similarity between Mahi (Kareena’s character in Heroine) and me is that I am over-emotional like her. Otherwise I am a very calm, composed and sorted girl.
Have you ever gone through what Mahi goes through?
Hello, I am not a declining superstar! I am very much here and happening. Anyway, I was born and brought up in this industry and I have seen it all. I don’t take success and failure seriously. The only thing I do seriously is march forward. If I fall, I get up and march again.
Your cousin Ranbir said that he was born into luxury. Can you say the same?
Kareena Kapoor in item number Halkat Jawani
We weren’t brought up in luxury, as people think about the Kapoor clan. My mom (Babita) and sister (Karisma) really struggled to give me a better life. Especially my mom, because she was a single parent. Everything was very limited for us. Lolo went to college in local trains, but I escaped that because I didn’t go to college here. But I took the school bus like everyone else. We had one car and didn’t have enough money for a driver. It’s only because mom brought us up like this that we value everything we have today. The bad days we have seen have made us very strong and fragile at the same time. And the experiences have made me a very intense person. You know, actors draw a lot from within (themselves) to better their craft.
I never rehearse for a shot. If it’s an emotional one, it’s easier for me. I draw from my bank of emotions.
What has Saif contributed to your life?
Lots. But most importantly the understanding that’s there’s a life beyond movies. He’s liberated me as a person. I learnt to appreciate the finer things in life. We frequently go on holidays across the globe. There are lots of other things which we do together. It’s nice going skiing and fishing. I have developed a keen interest in art and paintings, so we go to exhibitions and museums. Slowly, I am developing an interest in reading as well. I also learnt to appreciate and be with nature. As for holidays, I am curious by nature so I love travelling.
Back to your movies. After you’re married, will you be cautious when you choose roles?
Absolutely not! I will be the same Kareena, doing the quintessential happy and bubbly Kareena kind of roles. Having said this I’ll also do roles that challenge me as an actress. Like Heroine. Actors are greedy. They can never be satisfied. I want praise as well as box office returns. I am part of three big movies that went on to create the Rs. 100 crore club.
With Heroine you’ve touched the peak of acting. What next?
Hmm. I don’t mind playing the bubbly Geet kind of character again. Maybe Imtiaz Ali should come up with a Jab We Met 2. It’ll be good fun. Before you ask me who the cast should be, well… I am the lead actor in the film, it should be Imtiaz’s choice and I’ll be fine working with anyone.
What do you like best about Saif?
Saif is very English, yet very desi. Look at him as Langda Tyagi in Omkara (2006). So real! But the best part about him is his detachment and least-bothered attitude towards competition in the industry. He truly doesn’t care. He has his own space, own idea and that’s what he loves following. He doesn’t take all this very seriously but he is too good at his job.
Saif Ali Khan and Kareena Kapoor
Will you miss being in Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Ram Leela?
Certainly. Looks like my relationship with Sanjay is jinxed. Somehow we just don’t get to work together. First it was Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam (1999) and now Ram Leela. Nevertheless, there’s always a next time. He’ll write something big again, and this time I will ensure that we definitely work together… whatever the cost.
On her last memory of her late father-in-law Mansur Ali Khan Pataudi
He was a very refined and kind man, sweet in nature and nice to be around. I looked up to him. Every time I met him was short and sweet. I wish I had had more time with him. That’s the biggest regret I’ll always have.
On how she gets along with her mother-in-law Sharmila Tagore
She’s a warm, lovely and very liberal person who has inspired me in every way. She praises my performances and compliments me. She thinks I am very sensible. I am so happy to have her as my mother-in-law!
Heroine rants: Kareena’s take on two powerful dialogues from the film.
“Mumbai daily ke editor ho. Stars ki dosti tumse nahin tumahri kursi se hai.”
Exceptionally honest and real statement. Let’s not fool ourselves. We use each other and both the parties benefit from it. Niranjan Iyenger, who was a former journalist and who has written the dialogues, has seen it all. However, my personal take on it is different. I have some really dear friends from the media and we go beyond work. I have some journalist friends from the time when they would come to interview my sister, and I was just nine years old then. And there are the others whose careers have grown with mine, we are really good friends.
“Is industry mein ya toh manipulate karo, ya manipulate ho jau.”
That’s how it is! It’s a political and manipulative industry. Actors vie for the same roles, movies are snatched away. Have I ever been manipulated? Yes. But I haven’t manipulated anyone because if you think from the heart, you cannot be calculative. I have spent nights crying.