“I think I can somehow pass off as a Pakistani!” — Kareena Kapoor
After countless interviews, it’s only natural to think you’ve nailed the process down to where it could be done blindfolded. But all it takes is a super celebrity to turn those thoughts on their head.
After the censorship debacle that became Agent Vinod and Saif Ali Khan’s latest film, Cocktail, with Deepika Padukone and Diana Penty playing at cinemas across Pakistan, as well as Kareena Kapoor’s Heroine slated for a September 21 release, getting to interview both the stars on phone seemed too good to be true. Fortunately, Pakistan’s been seeing a flux of celebrities from across the border and the couple were recently featured sharing grooming advice on ads and billboards, which made it easier to arrange for their interviews.
Images on Sunday (IoS) tried but their schedules wouldn’t permit them being interviewed together — Saif was shooting an unnamed film with Shahrukh Khan while Kareena was being photographed, presumably for more commercials.
For the longest time, it seemed like the interviews wouldn’t happen. It took nearly two weeks to plan, and though the time slots were fixed, nearly a half-dozen delays (some veiled much too conspicuously as “We can’t hear you”) made it seem like the recorder would be going back to its drawer with only a bunch of ‘hellos’ on it. In the weirdest of scenarios, we had to conduct the first interview with Kareena Kapoor in someone’s car over a phone call that was routed to the vehicle’s blue tooth stereo so we could hear her loud and clear.
KK: Hello? IoS: Hello. KK: Yes. Hi, it’s Kareena here.
(Oh my God! Then the phone line dropped and we had to resort to another round of hellos, can you hear us nows, etc, before she was back on line and we decided to jump right into it)
IoS: You’ve played Pakistani characters in two of your films. Is it something that interests you because it offers a complicated character or is it usually just another role?
KK: I played a Pakistani in Qurban, Agent Vinod, right to Refugee. I think that somehow I can pass off as a Pakistani because I think (laughs) I look the part. And I take it as a compliment. I’ve been offered those kinds of roles and obviously I like the part and the script.
IoS: You’re arguably the most popular Kapoor of the current generation, and considered one of the most successful actresses in Bollywood (if not the most). How do you deal with the pressure to deliver with each film?
KK: Honestly, I’ve never really looked at it like that. I’ve just continued with my work, never really measured how successful I am, even though it is very important. I think coming from a family that has a background in films, it’s always a little bit more about acting and performances. Fortunately, I enjoy acting. It’s something that I just love to do.
IoS: Do you ever feel overly scrutinised?
KK: Well, I don’t know. I’m sure everyone feels that way. But I guess yeah, nowadays everything is out there in your face, in the media. Professionally, personally, everything is under scrutiny but you just tend to ignore it after a point.
IoS: If you had the choice, which one of Raj Kapoor’s films would you want to be a part of?
KK: I have always been a fan of Prem Rog. I think the girl is a very strong character in the film. I’d love to be a part of that.
IoS: You’ve tried your hand at strong female roles with Chameli, Refugee, etc. But as of late there is a trend towards item numbers. Do you feel Bollywood actresses are now choosing item numbers over roles?
KK: Well, no. I think it’s fun to do that and I’m doing a song like that in Dabangg 2. Ideally, it depends on the film; sometimes we do songs for a friend, sometimes if we decide we like a particular song it should be a part of the film. As long as it moves the story forward or as long as the song is somewhere connected to the script, I think it’s fine.
IoS: Rishi Kapoor once said, ‘movies should sell dreams not reality’. Do you think Bollywood is going to begin moving away from its staple of romance and more towards action films such as Agent Vinod? Do you also think we’re ever going to see a Bollywood version of a female as a superhero, like Shahrukh Khan in Ra-One?
KK: Yes, absolutely! There have been a lot of action films in the past and I think we’ve been mixing it all up in the last few years, and not just romantic comedies. But you know, I’m not much into action. I hope we can someday (have women in lead action roles), there are so many actresses that are so fit, and I’m sure they can but I’m not very action-oriented.
IoS: How has your experience been working with Pakistanis such as Rahat Fateh Ali Khan?
KK: Rahat has sung for quite a few of my films, including Bodyguard. He’s absolutely amazing; I’m a huge fan of his.
IoS: When do you and Saif plan to tie the knot?
KK: (Laughs). I’m sure you guys will be the first to know when it happens! IoS: How do you like being branded as Saifeena?
KK: Not really. I don’t think we both enjoy that. We try to be separate individuals, we’re both in separate films.
IoS: But you guys are going to be the biggest power couple the region has ever seen? KK: I don’t think we ever even think about it like that (laughs).
IoS: You’ve been film royalty for so long because you’re part of the biggest film generation in Bollywood. And Saif is a nawab. How does it feel knowing you are destined for full-blown royalty?
KK: I can’t think of it like that. I don’t think the royalty rule exists. But like I said, I think I’ve been lucky to come from this family. I personally don’t look at Saif as a nawab, I don’t even treat him like one, though he’d like it if I did (laughs).