It takes more than just love to sustain a relationship. But making a marriage work involves a lot of sacrifice. And Kareena Kapoor Khan (KKK) understood that pretty early into her union. Nine months into her marriage that’s growing stronger by the day, KKK has transformed. The young bubbly girl is now a mature woman, who has no qualms about accepting the dynamics of the relationships that surround her.
Marriage has done her good. Like her mother-in-law, Sharmila Tagore, who did some of her best films post marriage, Kareena too has been fortunate. She has landed some amazing work post her wedding — a feat that none of the recently-married actresses have accomplished, not even her sister Karisma Kapoor. KKK has signed four films after she married Saif Ali Khan.
Although she’s happy with the way things are right now, Kareena gets edgy and recoils if pushed to talk about her personal life, the bond she shares with Saif or his family. But after some persuasion she opens up. Nonetheless, she’s alert and at times studied. Her
conversation is discernibly different from when she was just the carefree Kareena. "Saif avoids intrusion; he likes to guard his private life closely. He doesn’t understand the media’s interest in his life, about what we eat, where we’re headed, who our guest is etc. And I totally endorse his views," says the actress, fiercely guarding conversations that sometimes veer towards Saif’s children (Sarah and Ibrahim) and her relationship with his family. Excerpts from the interview.
What was the brouhaha regarding your married surname; Khan?
The media should know it better. As for me, the day I married Saif, I became Mrs Saif Ali Khan. Saif’s family is very cosmopolitan and liberal. I love and deeply respect them. But at heart, I’m a very traditional girl.
Are you still possessive of each other?
Where there is love, there is going to be possessiveness. I’m possessive, but I’m not interfering. I don’t question him about his shootings or his co-stars and we both like it that way. He is a working man and I let him be like that. It’s the same with him. He is never curious about my choice of films or my co-stars. He is just supportive and is always there for me when my film releases.
What’s your take on classics? Would you like to reprise any role that your mother-in-law or any other yesteryear actress has played in the past?
I truly believe that their era was the golden era. They were just wonderful. Everything was done so tastefully. They were truly classics! Look at the repertoire of my mother-in-law’s films, for instance. Can I even match up to them? No way. I don’t want to ruin it by reprising her roles. So I believe classics should be untouched.
Do you miss being single?
I was never really single throughout my career. So there’s no question of missing it. In the last five years with Saif, I have been committed to him and now the commitment is only getting deeper. I feel like he makes me a more interesting person because he makes for enriching company. He keeps me engaged in every way.
Share 5 tips as a modern married working woman.
1. Try and live-in together before getting married to the person. This will help you understand each other.
2. Women usually give up everything to make a home. My suggestion: never give up your work, because that is your identity and it will be with you during crucial times. Balance your home and your work.
3. Deeply understand your partner. One of the key factors in building a solid bond is to be friends. Saif is my best friend.
4. Try and not discuss work at home, especially if you’re from the same field.
5. Always strive to be fit and sexy. It’s vital. Do yoga and follow a healthy diet to attain your goal. I don’t go to the gym. I indulge on puris and thaalis sometimes, but I make up for it all with some suryanamaskars.
‘I really want to work with Abhishek again’
an active social life because I love being with people and friends. I love travelling and holidaying as well. Since I always had the freedom to do what I want, there’s no major change that’s come about.
Have you been to Saif’s ancestral hometown, Pataudi?
I haven’t visited Pataudi till now. Work doesn’t permit us that luxury. Saif has been out of the country since the last six months; either shooting or travelling. But, I have been to Bhopal, the place where Saif’s family is originally from. We did that when Saif was shooting for Aarakshan (2011) and we’d visited all the houses Saif grew up in.
What do you want to be known as?
I’m a working woman and that’s what I want to be known as.
You initially backed out of working with Emraan Hashmi, but later signed a film with him. Why?
When they approached me initially, I didn’t have the dates. But now it’s all sorted. I’m looking forward to working with Emraan. I have heard nice things about him and his professionalism. My sister-in-law, Soha (Ali Khan), says he’s quite an intelligent guy.
After marriage, actresses in Bollywood usually pick certain kinds of roles. What kind of roles you want to play?
So far, I’ve been lucky to have chosen the right kind of scripts and I hope I can
continue to do so. As far as my choice of roles goes, it would be driven by how my fans would like to see me.
Do you watch movies?
Frankly, we (Saif and I) don’t watch Hindi films. I had stopped watching those (Hindi films) about eight years ago with an exception sometimes. But, Saif doesn’t watch them at all. The last films I watched were 3 Idiots (2009) and Cocktail (2012). Besides, we act in them. So, to go back and watch the same thing again gets quite monotonous. I think Gangs Of Wasseypur (2012) was a great film. And, unless it’s a great film and I want to unwind, I don’t watch Hindi cinema. I am more into English television shows.
What’s your plan eventually? Do you want to accompany your husband with his production house work or sit back and enjoy your family life?
You mean do I become a producer with Saif? Oh no! I have been around too many producers and have seen what they go through. It’s quite a high stress job.
Given a choice, who would you prefer working with today — the older lot of actors or the younger ones?
An actor cannot have such choices. And in my case, I have walked on both the sides of the fence. I have largely taken up roles that have substance. Yes, I have also done movies that were typical song-and-dance kinds. But, I enjoy both. The script should hook me and stir my excitement. If I feel a script is good, I will take it up.
Considering you and Saif come from diverse cultures, what have you picked up from him?
He has got a spectacular taste in music and that has impressed me majorly. I was into jazz and blues. But Saif has introduced me to hard and soft rock music. Today, I can appreciate a Dire Straits and a Led Zeppelin, as much as I appreciate other genres. Besides music, over the last five years I have learnt from him the way to appreciate and choose better roles even if it is the smallest one. He says the issue with us, actors, is that we always look for the main role.
Have you brought about any change in Saif?
He’s become grounded and more responsible and I take the entire credit for instilling these qualities in him.
What is it that you are keenly looking forward to?
A nice life with Saif and spending time with our families. Of course, looking forward to more acting assignments, as that’s my passion. My career is important, but I am a person who needs personal space as well. I want to live life on my own terms, something that I do anyway. I want to work and travel more, and live a satisfying life. I have realised that in our pursuit of success, we forget to live life. I don’t want to be trapped by that.
Do you feel Bollywood doesn’t celebrate married actress as they do in the west?
I don’t agree with that. Look at Nargisji (Mother India; 1957), my mother-in-law Sharmila Tagore (Mausam; 1975), Hema Malini (Seeta Aur Geeta; 1972), Sridevi (Chandni; 1989), Nutan (Bandini; 1963) and others who have iconised roles that were especially written for them. In fact, many of my mother-in-laws’ best performances have been after her marriage. And, a more recent example is Vidya Balan and her power packed roles. However, it is true that Bollywood is a male-dominated industry. And, how can we grudge it when our own country (India) is a male-dominated one as well. I believe movies are a reflection of society.
Your chemistry with most of the actors has been appreciated. Given a choice, which actors would you wish to recreate the chemistry with?
I’m looking forward to working with Hrithik Roshan in Shuddhi. He is one of the finest actors we have and he is an extremely wonderful co-star. I don’t know why, but we never got the right script all this while.
Another actor would be Abhishek Bachchan. I really want to work with him again. I gave the first shot of my career with him when we were shooting for Refugee (2000) in Bhuj (Gujarat). I have no idea why nobody approached us for another movie together.
And then, of course, my all-time favourite - Aamir Khan. It’s always a pleasure to work with him. He’s a special actor for me and I love him a lot.