Karisma Kapoor makes it all look like a breeze. The char tbus t ing career spanning two decades; life, first as a celebrity and then as a mother of two young children; the criticism, the praise, the perpetual scrutiny and constant judgement. Or, she is a very good actress. You may never know. But what we do know now is that Karisma has a hearty laugh, a friendly disposition and truly pretty blue eyes. She doesn’t seem bothered by the mixed reviews her comeback film Dangerous Ishq has received. She did it for fun, to show her children what she used to do and feel that familiar rush of making a movie. She talks about how she has come a long way from that pink frock she wore in her first film Prem Qaidi in 1991.
You say you made this movie to show your children what you used to do. Did they know you were a big star?
Not at all. I’ve shielded my kids. My son is too young, but I had kept my daughter away from the limelight. I wanted my kids to have a normal upbringing, similar to the one Kareena and I had. Now that she’s a little older and has started watching movies, I introduced her to this aspect of my life. I wanted them to see this was a part of who I am.
How was it to be on the sets again?
Just the same. It was like being back home. I’ve always believed that films are a big part of me, but my film career doesn’t completely define me. I wanted a life beyond movies, even though I am from a film family.
By the grace of God, I had a great career for so many years, so coming back now was a natural progression of sorts.
What’s your goal this time around?
I’m not running any rat race. I’m not ‘in the game’, as you call it. I’m not back to start worrying about, “It’s Friday, oh God, what’s going to happen to me?” I like acting, my fans like to see me. I’m going to work at my own pace. It’s actually a very comfortable position for me to be in.
How was your time away?
I entered the industry when I was 16 and worked for a decade-and-a-half. I was so exhausted. Especially, the last few movies that I did were so intense – Fiza, Zubeidaa and Shakti. So I was happy to settle down, start a family and generally be a homebody after that. I am a typical Cancerian: emotional and homely. I enjoy doing nothing, or things I’d never got a chance to do before, like going grocery shopping, doing normal, normal things.
Do you feel the industry has changed between then and now?
It has definitely become much more streamlined, professional and organised. It’s a great space and time to be making movies, for both newcomers and experienced actors. New people now get a chance to do what they want, and at the same time, a more experienced actor like me can come back. Of this new crop of films, I especially loved Kahaani.
Do you have a personal favourite character that you played, one that is closest to your real self?
All my movies are precious little gems to me – hit, flop or blockbuster. They all contributed towards making me the actor and the person I am. So I can’t pick and choose. But in terms of a character being closest to my personality, I feel I’m a mixture of the strong, determined, passionate girl in Raja Hindustani, or Dil To Pagal Hai, Fiza and Zubeidaa. I’m a bit of a child, too.
As the first of this generation of Kapoor children to enter the industry, would you say you paved the way for Kareena and Ranbir?
There used to be a myth that Kapoor girls can’t work and that I was the first one to break it – that’s completely untrue. My grandfather and even my parents knew that I wanted to follow in their footsteps. My family has been very openminded. My mother and my aunt had careers but they chose to settle down. Shammi and Shashi uncles’ wives Geeta Baliji and Jennifer aunty did work in those days, too, even after marriage. It was always left to them to decide.
Do you ever look back at your movies,fashionwise, and cringe?
Yes, absolutely. In those days, we had basic costume designers who made us frocks and stuff. Today’s newcomers get so much packaging – good makeup, hair stylists,
fashion stylists, beauty products, brands. We had to struggle to make a mark and do well, whether it was a dance number or a whole film. But yes, I watch some movies and go, “Oh, my God!” For my first movie, I had to wear a pink frock at a birthday party scene. That’s something we only did when we were kids. But in those days, that was the fashion and we had to wear what we were told to wear.
What are your other interests?
Besides films, it’s fashion and food. I love watching old Hollywood films and American sitcoms. I’m a complete sitcom buff, whether it’s old or new shows. I watch everything from The Mary Tyler Moore Show from the 1970s to Two and A Half Men and How I Met Your Mother. Then, I love food, even though people don’t believe I am a foodie. I know a little bit of cooking, solely because of my kids. I had to start looking for healthy snacking recipes for them, and that’s when I went into the kitchen first.
Did you lose weight for the movie?
Not at all. The fact is, you have seen me for the past 20 years, I’ve always been a fit person. Even though I am a typical Kapoor and I love food, I have good eating habits. If I want to eat biryani or a cupcake or ice cream, I do it. I just go for a walk afterwards.
I want to tell young girls and young moms out there, that you just need to do it all in a healthy fashion. I’ve never gone on any crash diets. I don’t endorse just drinking nimbupaani and eating four leaves a day. Eat everything, but in moderation, and you will lose weight.
After both my pregnancies, I’ve lost 25 and 24 kg respectively. I thoroughly enjoyed my pregnancies, I binged and splurged. It’s very important as a woman to not curb yourself. I am a case in point. All that’s needed is some discipline. I do yoga. I’m really not into hardcore gymming or supplements.
Any similarities between you and Kareena in terms of acting style?
I think we’re very different. Kareena is a natural. She simply steps in front of the camera and gives a shot. I think a lot before a shot. I’m like Aamir (Khan), Anil (Kapoor) – they’re actors who prepare themselves. Kareena is someone who just goes and does what she feels like.
Does she come to you for professional advice? Are you close as sisters?
She takes advice from me even now, and I take advice from her. We have a giveand- take relationship that way. We’re very close, touch wood. Everything is so fast these days, with the general lifestyle, the profession; you’re busy all the time; keep odd hours at work. But we are very familyoriented and very grounded.
What reactions have you got for Dangerous Ishq?
I’m just happy that people are happy to see me back on the screen. It’s nice when people say they think I haven’t changed, even after eight years.
Do you care about reviews?
In my entire career, I’ve done a mixed bag of movies – good, bad, great, whatever. You can’t base your life on reviews. At the end of the day, you have to just move on. Forget about the reviews and see what the public is saying about you.