Karisma returns to films
This year she's seen a publicised break-up, legal wrangles about her first TV serial and no film releases, but Karisma Kapoor has emerged from her period of grief and is now ready to return to Bollywood.
Karisma maintains that she was consciously out of the loop: "It was deliberate. I withdrew into a shell. I just wasn't ready to go public with my grief. I chose a dignified silence because that's the kind of person I am."
The actress who went from the plastic glam-girl of Prem Qaidi, 13 years ago to the naturalistic Fiza feels she needs to come out of her self-imposed exile. "Now it's time I spoke. I owe it to everyone. The beginning of this year was traumatic for me. I wouldn't wish any girl to go through it."
"Though I've been through a lot I've come to terms with whatever has happened. I was emotionally unprepared to confront my problems. "Life deals you different cards. You've to just go with the shuffle. Everyone in the press instinctively understood what I was going through and left me alone."
"I couldn't have come out of my trauma if it wasn't for my parents, sister, my dadiji, my two buas, and my close friends." She scoffs at the widely-held opinion that her career as a movie actress had reached a dead end, hence the soap Karishma: Miracle Of Destiny.
"I wasn't ready to sign on new films. I needed the space and time to get over my personal problems. It was just not possible for me to be shooting round-the-clock for movies. The serial was all the work that I could handle. Now I'm ready to take on movies again. I've come to terms with what happened in my life. I'm listening to some lovely scripts."
Her face lights up with enthusiasm as she speaks about her fabulous foray in television. "I must say my respect for all television actors has gone up by many notches after doing Karishma... Hats off to them for being in so many soaps.
"Doing television is real hard work. There's a shot every two minutes. Forget about taking a break, you barely get time to pause for breath. I've to change my clothes a minimum of 8-10 times a day, which is no joke. It's physically and mentally exhausting. But I'm having the time of my life."
"Two years ago I had moved to another level when I did parallel cinema. Now television is another enriching experience. When people tell me they like what I'm doing I feel my decision was completely right." Now Karisma says she's prepared to take on her dormant movie career. The first film that she returns to will be Suneel Darshan's Mere Jeevan Saathi.
"I've never done a role like that before. It's got shades of grey. Though I play an obsessive character it's not the kind we've seen so far. The current Bollywood scenario doesn't quite inspire Karisma. "I can't be dancing around trees, or in the desert as they're doing these days," she laughs.
"I want to be inspired by the films that I do. That's the kind of inspiration Karishma has provided me. I go from being a young girl to an old woman." Commenting on the legal battles the serial went through after author Barbara Taylor Bradford accused it of plagiarism, Karisma sighs: "We went through some really rough times. We were all anxious. Throughout the legal problems we kept on doing our work. Everyone at Sahara TV was sure it was just a trying phase that would pass. Fortunately it did. So far the audiences' reactions has been very positive."
Her voice brims over with pride when she speaks of her stunning sibling. "Kareena is my baby sister. And I definitely don't mind stepping aside for her sake. I'm glad people think this way. To me her success is very important, though Kareena is good enough to survive any competition, including her sister."