She was 17 and had just delivered a surprise hit,
. Karishma (she hadn’t dropped the ‘h’ then) Kapoor reminded me of a strawberry ice cream.. creamy complexion and lips outlined in a startling pink.
She was shooting with Jackie Shroff for
. As I watched her metamorphose into the livewire Bijli, I was struck by her easy confidence in front of the camera. Between shots, I fired off a volley of questions. She fielded them with quotable quotes. I walked away with an impression of spunk and strawberry pink.
The spunk fizzled out after lectures in diplomacy. Her quotes were more politically correct now (sigh!) but the strawberry pink lipstick remained a favourite.
We set up a date for her with Shantanu Shorey. The ace photographer only clicked models but for once he had agreed to shoot a ‘filmi’ for our annual issue. Karishma, ‘sexy sexy’ after
, was the chosen one.
She was at Shantanu’s studio on the dot and like a studious school girl rushed in for make-up. Her hair was teased into a fall of bouncy curls.
A froth of lace covered her. And the pink lipstick.. now a stub from overuse.. stood out starkly. With a radiant smile Karishma sailed into the room. Shantanu took one look and hollered, “Wipe that muck off your face, right now. I want a bold lip color.. scarlet, bronze, anything but baby pink.”
Half-an-hour later, Karishma turned up again. Shantanu bandaged her up in a black tablecloth.. only her sapphire bright eyes peeked out. The pictures were extraordinary. And I never saw Karishma with the strawberry pink lipstick again.
A couple of years later, Manish Malhotra worked his magic and transformed her into the nation’s
. Brown lens, bouncy curls ironed out, chiffon saris.. the girly Karisma (she had dropped the ‘h’ by then) changed into a sophisticated miss.
Years passed.. we lost touch as marriage and motherhood took her away from movie town. We met again at an award function. The show was inching towards a grand finale. Kareena Kapoor was one of the top contenders for the Best Actress Award for
Karisma had won the award three times, for
(Critics Award) and
(Critics Award). I’d never seen her nervous when she was among the nominees.
But this time baby sister Bebo was up for an award and Lolo was a bundle of quivering nerves. Her hands were icy.. her mind clearly elsewhere as she chatted with Govinda while they waited to be called to present an award. She did the honours with quiet grace then stepped down to wait for the Best Actress verdict.
Kareena’s name was announced. It was her first popular award (she had bagged the Critics Awards earlier for
). I’ve never seen Karisma look happier. This was the moment she had been waiting. The baton had been handed over to another Kapoor girl.. but not the strawberry pink lipstick.