A Minute With: Kareena Kapoor Khan

June 24, 2015

Kareena Kapoor belongs to Bollywood royalty. The Kapoor family tree has produced some of India’s biggest actors and stars, but the actress and her sister Karisma were the first women from the family to act. In her 16 years in the business, Kapoor has shown natural talent that few of her peers can claim. Often, she doesn’t showcase that talent, and instead appears in films that have big-ticket male stars and where leading ladies are reduced to damsels in distress.

Kapoor, 34, spoke to Reuters about why she works in films like “Bajrangi Bhaijaan” (“Brother Bajrangi”) which comes out next month, and in which she has a small part, instead of choosing meatier roles. The interview has been edited.

Q: Why did you say “yes” to “Bajrangi Bhaijaan”?
A: Apart from it being a Salman Khan film … it is also his first film as a producer, so I wanted to be a part of it. I have also never worked with Kabir Khan. The idea is also to work in commercial films, but there should be a newness to it. Kabir’s films aren’t mindless. When he called me, I immediately said yes.

Q: You’ve done films with all the big heroes, and most often you haven’t had much to do in those films. Doesn’t that bother you?
A: Well, in “Asoka” I had a great part …

Q: But not in films like “Singham” or “Bodyguard”?
A: But those are the big commercial blockbusters … it matters. Every top actor of their generation, whether it was Sharmila Tagore who worked with Rajesh Khanna or Hemaji (Hema Malini) who worked with Dharmendra or Rekha, who worked with Amitabh Bachchan. A Scarlett Johansson is part of an Avengers franchise. It is not a crime to work with Khans.

Q: But you’re in the prime of your career and it’s a time when such substantial roles are being written for women…
A: Yeah … But everyone wants to work with the Khans, no matter what they say. And once you have tasted blood, you want to do it again and again. But in this film, it’ll be a small part, but there will be a sense of realism – it is not that we are dancing around trees all the time.

Q: Tell me more about “tasting blood.”
A: When two superstars come together, it is …When I watch an “Avengers”, I get a thrill. When I watch an “Iron Man”, I get a thrill. Of course, it is a Robert Downey Jr. film, but it also has Gwyneth Paltrow in it, and she also does a “Sliding Doors.” This is how I wanted it to be in my career. I wanted to be part of the big bonanzas, but I also want to be part of a film where I will have a sensible part. I am a star actor and that cannot change. I am also quite unapologetic about it.

Q: But it’s the male actors who get all the star billing and the credit.
A: Yeah, but they can’t take away from the fact that we are part of the film and especially when it comes to me. Because audiences have always loved seeing us together. That is why they have always repeated me in their films – the Khans. They aren’t going to cast me for the sake of it – they know it adds something to their weekends and their collections. It is unfair to say that it is a Salman Khan film. No hero is complete without his heroine.

Q: But you said no to films like Zoya Akhtar’s “Dil Dhadakne Do” and “Ram Leela”. Do you think you missed out because of the choices you made?
A: I have no regrets. I am not that kind of person. I am a secure person and I only look forward. But yeah, I would love to work with Zoya again. She is a wonderful director. But then again, this isn’t my last film and it is not her last film either.

Q: So are the “Sliding Doors” now taking more prominence over the “Avengers” when it comes to your movie choices?
A: You know, when I got married, everyone said don’t get married, because the belief is that your career is over if you do. Maybe that is why I wanted to be part of these huge commercial blockbusters. Also, I couldn’t say no to Rohit (Shetty, director of “Singham Returns”) and Ajay Devgn. Salman turned producer, again I couldn’t say. I was also busy travelling and I wanted to do things at home. I said no to a lot of people, and a lot of films, but once I was secure and in a happy place I was ready to do something different.
I have always tried to do something different. I did “Heroine”, which I think was one of my best performances. I did “Chameli” when I was 21. They are all doing it now, but I have also done it. Like R Balki’s film (with Arjun Kapoor) is going to be super exciting.
I am greedy for good films and good cinema, but I am also greedy for a good life. Yeah, sure I made some wrong choices, but in this 15-year career, I am sure there will be good and bad choices.

Q: You said in an interview that the only reason you did “Kambakkht Ishq” is because you got to wear good clothes.
A: Yeah. And people still remember it as one of my most glamorous roles. And I loved it. I was in LA! Who doesn’t want to be in LA? Most people say the shelf life of an actor is a decade, and I am entering my 16th year in this industry. I have played Anil Kapoor’s wife and now I am playing Arjun Kapoor’s wife (in R Balki’s forthcoming film). And I think I look good with all of them.

Q: What do you think it is about a Salman Khan film and the hysteria it creates?
A: Salman is also an unapologetic actor about his success. He knows he is here to entertain. And he makes those kind of films. But Kabir Khan’s film will be different. There will be a story, a sense of direction. And it is a Salman Khan film. Everyone wants to be in a Salman Khan film. Anyone who says they don’t…

Q: They are lying?
A: They all want to be a part of it. It is Salman Khan at the end of the day. He is the biggest superstar in the country. And he is lovely and gorgeous. Why would anyone not want to work with him?

(Editing by Robert MacMillan. Follow Shilpa on Twitter @shilpajay and Robert @bobbymacReports | This article is website-exclusive and cannot be reproduced without permission)

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