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'I don't mind stepping aside for Kareena'

Subhash K Jha | August 13, 2003 11:58 IST

Karisma Kapoor

Karisma Kapoor has been lying low for some time now. Her high profile engagement to Abhishek Bachchan was called off due to reported differences between Karisma Kapoor's mother, Babita, and the Bachchan family.

"It was deliberate," she says uncharacteristically. "I withdrew into a shell. I just was not ready to go public with my grief. I chose a dignified silence because that is the kind of person I am. I have always been a woman of few words."

Now she feels it is time for her to come out of her self-imposed exile.

"I was emotionally unprepared to confront my problems"

"It is 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. I was forced to deal with my hurt and pain on my own. I guess time is the best healer. Though I have been through a lot, I have come to terms with whatever has happened. All I will say is, whatever is destined is bound to happen. I was emotionally unprepared to confront my problems. Life deals you different cards. You have to just go with the shuffle."

Abhishek Bachchan and Karisma KapoorShe adds, "I want to thank the media for being so understanding and supportive. Everyone left me alone. I don't want to say anything more on this except that I couldn't have come out my trauma if it wasn't for my parents [Babita and Randhir Kapoor], sister [Kareena], my Dadiji [grandmother Krishna Raj Kapoor], my two Buas [aunts Rima Jain and Ritu Nanda] and my close friends."

"I am ready to take on movies again"

She scoffs at the suggestion that her career as a film actress had reached a dead end, hence the soap Karishma: The Miracles Of Destiny. "I wasn't ready to sign on new films. I needed 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. I am ready to take on movies again. I am listening to some lovely scripts."
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Karisma speaks enthusiastically about her foray into television. "My respect for all television actors has gone up many notches after doing Karishma. Television is real hard work. There is a shot every two minutes. Forget about taking a break, you barely get time to pause for breath. I have to change my clothes a minimum of eight-ten times a day, which is no joke. It's physically and mentally exhausting.

"But I am having the time of my life. Two years ago, I had moved to another level when I did parallel cinema. Television is enriching. Instead of signing three more films, looking glamorous and running around trees, here I am doing something completely different in an author-backed role. When people tell me they like what I am doing, I feel my decision was right."

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Karisma will feature in Suneel Darshan's Mere Jeevan Saathi opposite Akshay Kumar. "I have never done a role like that before. It has shades of grey. Though I play an obsessive character it is not the kind we have seen so far. I have done everything there is to do in movies. I have worked with best of directors. I am so thankful to the audience for accepting me in both commercial and parallel cinema. After Fiza and Zubeidaa, I want to do something really challenging in cinema. I can't be greedy and sign half a dozen films just to prove I am still in demand."

The current Bollywood scenario doesn't quite inspire Karisma. "I can't dance around trees or in the desert as they are doing these days," she jokes. "I want to be inspired by films. That is the kind of inspiration Karishma has provided me. I have never played a role like this in any film. I journey from a young girl to an old woman. It is a dream role for any actress."

Commenting on the legal battles the serial recently went through with novelist Barbara Taylor Bradford suing its makers for plagiarism, Karisma says, "We went through some really rough times. We were all anxious. What kept us going was the shooting. Throughout the legal problems, we kept doing our work, never for a minute thinking our soap might not take off. Everyone at Sahara Television was sure it was just a trying phase that would pass. Fortunately it did. So far, the audiences' reactions have been very positive."

"I definitely don't mind stepping aside for Kareena"

Karisma KapoorHer voice beams with pride with the mention of kid sister, Kareena. "Kareena is my baby sister. I definitely don't mind stepping aside for her sake. To me, her success is very important. Kareena is good enough to survive any competition, including her sister."

Television brings a glow to the actress' face. "After working non-stop for 13 years with an average of 8-10 releases a year, and having done everything from potboilers to art films, I needed to move on to another level. I believe in taking risks. If you remember, when I had done Dil To Pagal Hai, every actress refused it. No one wanted to stand up to Madhuri Dixit. Everyone advised me against doing Dil To Pagal Hai, just as they warned against doing an offbeat film like Fiza. So when people asked me, why television, I want to ask them, why not?"

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