Kareena in a mixed bag
"Khuda Gawah, Amitabh, Nargis and Kajol still remain my best!"
Presenting Kareena Kapoor, the millennium girl…
I love it when people tell me I'm a wonderful actress. But I think Kajol is the ultimate!
I hate putting on make-up and doing up my hair. I'm much happier in one plait. And I love to cry!
I don't want to chew up anybody. I want to create my own place just like everyone else.
What was your reaction when you saw yourself for the first time on screen?
The first time I saw myself was on the promo-clippings of Refugee on TV. I was quite nervous about seeing myself in the entire film actually. My mother and my sister told me that if I don't like myself on screen, the audience won't either. I think I'm satisfied with my performance in Refugee.
I think the only debutante to make a similar impact was Dimple Kapadia in Bobby, which coincidentally enough was your grandfather's film.
Refugee is very different from other launch-pad movies, including Bobby. But I never feared rejection. I always knew I had to make everyone love my character of Nazneen. Every normal guy who was going to see me on screen had to say, "Gawd, I'm in love with her!". Not with me Kareena... but with the character I played. When I went to a cinema hall in Mumbai on the first day, people came up to me and said they wanted to go to Bhuj to look for a girl like Nazneen.
You've played a character that's quite devious in her beauty.
I don't know about that. But I tried really hard. The only thing I was sure about was that I wanted people to fall in love with Nazneen.
People say you don't look and act like a newcomer. You act like a veteran.
Oh gawd! I think acting is inborn. I always knew there was nothing else I could do. I had to be cut out for acting. I knew I had some sort of talent. But I never thought I'd be so widely accepted. I just did my best.
There is an extraordinary effortlessness in your performance.
But I want more roles like Refugee! I know it's going to be hard. It scares me to think about this. Now that people have accepted me as an actress, what do I do next? I feel Nazneen will remain the best character I've portrayed. I just hope there are directors out there who will write more characters like this for me.
What about your dad Randhir Kapoor? He should make his next film with you.
I know. But he's still busy scripting and planning his next film. I think he wants to cast me. But let's see.
You would have made a wonderful Henna. Your dad has predicted that you're going to chew up every other heroine on the scene.
Oh god! That makes me sound very carnivorous. I don't want to chew up anybody. I want to create my own place just like everyone else.
Aren't we being modest!
No, I mean it. I'm happy being my own person. I love it when people tell me I'm a wonderful actress. But I think Kajol is the ultimate. I always thought she was a lot like Geeta Bali. I'm not that great. But because of all these raves I'm getting scared. How am I going to make sure that my second and third films are equally good?
Well Abbas-Mustan's Ajnabee carries promising reports.
I was okay doing that. But I'm much happier doing a role like Refugee. Ajnabee is more commercial. I've danced in the streets of Switzerland, that sort of thing. I guess I have to do that as well.
You don't enjoy that?
No…Oo… Not at all! I used to crib constantly when I had to wear make-up. I hate putting on make-up and doing up my hair. I'm much happier in one plait. And I love to cry.
Yes, crying sequences are my forte, don't you think?
But you are very good in the comedy scene at the aata- chakkiwalla in Refugee.
Yes. But that's the way I am in real life.
Abhishek Bachchan says he's learning to be comfortable with dancing. What about you?
I'm trying my best. But I don't know how I'll look doing it. I told my directors Abbas-Mustan that even though I'm playing a wife in Ajnabee, I'd behave the way I would in real life. The emotions had to come naturally. It wasn't as though wife hai to aisa karna padega waisa karna padega. I portray the wife exactly the way I would if I were to marry Bobby Deol. I put myself in my character's personality, place and worked out the role.
Are you a lot like Nazneen in Refugee?
Yes, quite like her. Like me, she's a very headstrong person. Imagine a conservative Muslim girl going up to the Sunil Shetty character and ticking him off! That required a lot of guts. If there's anyone apart from J.P. Dutta and Abhishek I have to thank for my performance in Refugee, it's Sunil. He always stood by me, predicting that the film would turn me into something major.
There are rumours that you're turning down plum roles on an impulse.
No, not at all. That's just gossip and nonsense. There were too many date hassles. As it is, I had eight films on hand and I didn't want to overdo my appearances on screen. Then that exclusivity goes away from an actress' career. If I were seen too often, the audience would stop waiting for my films.
Karisma Kapoor had as many as three releases in a row in recent months.
Exactly. But she's more into the masala stuff, which I don't want to do. So, I returned some signing amounts and told the directors that it just won't work out.
But you are doing Santosh Sivan's Ashoka The Great with your No.1 hero Shah Rukh Khan.
Yes, I am. I'm very, very excited about it because I get to act with Shah Rukh and even more so because the director is Santosh. I have great regard for his film Terrorist.
I wish you had played the lead in Terrorist.
It would have had to be more comercial then, I guess. But even Ashoka The Great is going to be a great experience. It's a love story, modernising the period to which King Ashoka belonged. I'm more excited about this role than any other because I can again prove myself as an actress. This role is a complete contrast to Nazneen in Refugee. In Ashoka The Great, I'm more sensuous. It's an unbelievable role.
Like your sister, are you keen on working with directors like Shyam Benegal and Govind Nihalani?
Oh yes. But not right away. People would then say I've gone into art cinema far too early in my career. But I don't mind doing such roles. If tomorrow I get such an offer I'd definitely go for it. Right now, it's Subhash Ghai's Yaadein and Santosh Sivan's Ashoka which are truly, truly exciting. Then there's Karan Johar's Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham. I'm really happy to be a part of these three films.
I'm excited about its release. It's my acid test as a commercial actress. My ideal role in mainstream cinema would be Kajol's Kuch Kuch Hota Hai. After Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham, Karan has promised to make a film like Kuch Kuch Hota Hai with me in the lead. After seeing Refugee and the kind of emotions I can portray, he says he's confident about my potential.
Aren't you scared that you'll be lost in an avalanche of talent in Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham?
No, I've got a very good role. It's actually the only glamorous role in Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham. Once again it's a departure from Refugee and all my other films. After Kabhi Khushi people are going to say, "God, this isn't Kareena."
How will you cope with gossip and scandal?
Let anyone write what he or she like. I just want to focus on work. The day I leave, I want the audience to wonder where I've gone. I think I'll give myself five to six years in the industry.
Would you like to do a film with your sister?
Of course. It would be a learning experience. She's another actress I idealise. I'd love to be a mix of Kajol and Karisma. My sister's talent and spunk are unbelievable. I have a lot to learn from her versatility.