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December 3, 2001
Subhash K Jha
Akshay Kumar is all praise for his Talaash costar Kareena Kapoor. "In my 12 years in the industry, I've never worked with an actress like Kareena. I've seen her prance around her sister Karisma's sets as a kid and I always felt there was something special about her."
Though the duo has acted in Ajnabee before, Akshay and Kareena hardly had any scenes together. For the first time in Talaash, Akshay is able to observe this captivating camera chameleon at work. And he is simply bowled over.
He isn't the only one. The whole film industry is impressed with Kareena's spellbinding hold on the audiences. Equipped with loads of self-confidence and attitude, she seems to have virtually taken over the industry. The actress is in every project that matters. And if she's not, it's because she has chosen not to be involved. Everyone knows of her steel-willed determination.
When she entered films as the die-hard Subhash Ghai fan, her ultimate dream was a film with the showman. That Yaadein would become the least memorable experience of her career was something Kareena never anticipated.
Suneel Darshan smiles fondly. "I decided on Kareena Talaash only ten days before we began shooting. She has a very important role. I was thinking of a few names when Kareena asked me why I wasnít casting her. It was such a sweet gesture. Iím so glad sheís in Talaash. She's added another dimension to the film."
Directors tell me that after a shot is over, the entire team just stands back to watch the actress emote. Sheís that brilliant!
On the sets, Kareena is uncharacteristically relaxed. "Thatís because Suneelís set is like home to me. Often there is unnecessary tension on the sets, especially when thereís another actress around. Thatís why Iíve decided not to do any more two-heroine films," Kareena announces firmly.
Her experience with female co-stars has been decidedly unpleasant. The ugly incident with Bipasha Basu, where the two actresses exchanged heated words over dress designer Vikram Phadnis, isnít what Kareena is cut out for.
Sanjay Bhansali with whom Kareena had fallen out when he didnít sign her for Devdas after screen-testing her, says that she's a complete natural both on and off screen. She always does what comes to her instinctively. Sanjay and Kareena hugged and patched up last month at Kiron Kherís sonís birthday party. And now the girl wonít rest until Sanjay works with her. "He owes me a Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam. And Sanjay knows I deserve it," Kareena says.
The film industry is willing to pay her unheard sums of money just to have her sign on the dotted line, recession no bar. Getting Kareena Kapoor to do a film is the next best thing to getting a blank cheque at the box office. For Khushi, Boney Kapoor paid Kareena the highest sum ever paid to a heroine -- much more than the film's male lead, Fardeen Khan.
No actress -- not Sridevi, Madhuri nor Aishwarya Rai -- has seen such stupendous success in so little time. "And that too when most of my films are said to be box office debacles," smiles Kareena. It isnít a smile of triumph -- just a statement based on honest self-evaluation.
In her next release, Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham, she has a minor role when compared to those of Shah Rukh and Kajol. But she makes her presence felt in every promo.
This young lady who finds unprecedented success is both frightened and thrilled with her sudden power. She's realised the power of glamour and beauty. From the shapeless salwar kameez in Refugee, to the figure hugging designer wear in Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham, Kareena doesn't skip a beat.
"Iím here to be the top actress," Kareena tells me rather pragmatically. "For that, I have to be glamorous and sensuous. I was immensely flattered when a glossy recently called me a sex goddess. The last actress who was called that was Rekha."
That may be true. But what Rekha did in 20 years, Kareena did in one.
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