Saif Ali Khan and Kareena Kapoor are among the few Bollywood stars who braved mounting protests from Tamilians across the world to be a part of the IIFA weekend in Colombo recently. Back in town, the couple, among other stars, is facing the ire and a boycott call of agitating industry factions down South, who have now threatened to disrupt the screenings of Kapoor’s soon-to-release film, Milenge Milenge.
Quiz her on this and she argues, “I’m an actress who caters to an audience in the North, South, East and West. It was an honour to represent the country and our film industry in Sri Lanka as an artiste. Saif and I were there to spread the message of world peace and love.”
Earlier in the year, Kapoor became the first Bollywood celebrity to endorse a Pakistani product when she toplined Firdous Summer Lawn Collection 2010 for a friend’s textile company on billboards across the country. She reasons that she went across the border to strengthen ties between the two countries and not for the whopping Rs 15 million she was reported to have been paid for only a photo shoot, done in Dubai.
“Sure I was paid for the campaign, but nobody needs to know how much?” retorts the diva. “I have a manager looking into deals for me that are locked behind closed doors. I don’t have to show my contract to the world to refute such idle gossip. It’s enough to say that I got what I deserved.”
The clothes she promoted, sparked off sharp criticism from designers back home, leaving the style icon not so amused: “What those designers, with so much time to spare, didn’t take into account is that some of my glamorous outfits might not have been considered suitable in that country. There’s is a more conservative market. The prêt line I promoted was designed for the Pakistani palate and was a huge hit there.”
Kapoor has just been voted the Best Celebrity Endorser by a TV news channel. And while she refuses to let the award go to her head, she does admit that it is a thrill to be the first Asian ambassador for a laptop for an international brand.
Though she does point out that she is actually endorsing three international brands at the moment — Sony Vaio, Sony Ericsson and Head & Shoulders — and is the only Indian to spearhead the FIFA literacy drive for under-privileged children. She features in a video shot especially for the football World Cup with Hollywood A-listers — Matt Damon and Angelina Jolie.
“Within the next couple of days, my announcement as FIFA brand ambassador will be made official and I’ll be joining Damon and Jolie to talk about this cause in the US and may be at the United Nations too,” informs the actress.
Score a goal
FIFA, she points out, is a huge draw since football is a sport watched worldwide and it is rare for a Bollywood star to be associated with a cause outside movies on a global platform. “And that makes this initiative a bigger incentive than a few more ads or even a Hollywood film, because both Saif and I have always made time for charity, despite our busy schedules and many professional commitments,” she avers.
So after FIFA will she be the face of the Commonwealth Games that India will be hosting in the Capital in October? “It would be an honour, but I haven’t spoken to anyone in that concern yet. Three films — Golmaal 3, Stepmom and Ra.One — and now Saif’s home production, Agent Vinod, that I will soon start shooting for and the FIFA drive have kept me very busy,” she says. “But I’m definitely open to more films, charity drives and commercials. I will be taking on two more brands by October. Only ads promoting alcohol, smoking and non-vegetarian food are a strict no-no.”