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The Rediff Interview / Kareena Kapoor
'I have so many flops, but my fans are increasing'
Syed Firdaus Ashraf | June 08, 2004
After Yuva, another Kareena Kapoor film is ready to hit the marquee.
If Yuva gave her the opportunity to work with Mani Ratnam, Dev fulfilled her dream of working with Govind Nihalani.
Dev, co-starring Amitabh Bachchan, Om Puri, and Fardeen Khan, will release on June 11.
In an interview with Syed Firdaus Ashraf, Kareena talks about Dev, her flops, her self-confidence, and what makes her just another normal girl:
You played the stylish Poo in Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham. Dev sees you in a complete contrast. Comment.
That is good. My fans get [to see] different shades of my acting. Directors feel Kareena has got range as an actor and she can do different roles.
Govind Nihalani felt he could cast me [in Dev] even though I come from a completely different school of acting.
Are you planning to do more realistic films?
I wanted Govindji's name on my CV. I have worked with names like Subhash Ghai, Karan Johar, Mani Ratnam, and Sooraj R Barjatya. When Govindji came to me with the script, I could not say no. I liked it very much. It was hard to say 'No' to him.
My fans and people ask me whether I am making a conscious decision. If an actress is getting such roles in Bollywood, it is the best thing [to happen] because [that means] people are accepting different kind of films. I am the only actress who is accepting de-glamourised roles where there is no makeup. And, at the same time, I am doing film like Fida where I have a glamorous role.
What is your role in Dev?
I play a Muslim girl called Aaliya. She is simple and docile. Dev revolves around four people — Amitji, Om Puri, Fardeen Khan and me.
Do you identify with Aaliya in real life?
[Among the characters I have played] I can relate to her the most. It is a very strong character. For a young girl like me to get this opportunity was something very big. I played a Muslim character earlier in my first film, Refugee.
You have sung the track Jab nahi aaye the tum for Dev. What was it like?
It was very tough to sing that song. My voice is very bad, and I want to apologise in advance. I am not a professional singer.
Govindji forced me, so I had to do it. I hope people like it. It's not melodious singing. It's like I am talking to myself in a singing mode.
How was it working with Amitabh Bachchan in Dev?
I worked with him in Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham earlier. In this film, however, Govindji has given me lot of scope to perform with Amitji. He is a good friend of mine.
Would you dub Dev an art film?
No. It is a realistic film. Dev is a good film. I don't want to label films as art, parallel, or crossover. If you make a good film, people will come and see it, otherwise they won't.
What was working with Govind Nihalani like?
He knows what he is saying. He knows filmmaking so well that I just had to be there [on the sets] and do what he said.
I had seen Ardh Satya and Tamas. And I knew I had to work in one of his films. I am happy to be part of Dev.
Is there any particular kind of role that you would like to do?
I would like to make a mark. Directors must know that Kareena can perform all kinds of roles. I want to play a girl jo baalon mein tel dali ho [a girl who applies oil in her hair, a conservative girl]. And at the same time, wear short skirts or even a ghagra-choli.
You never compromise on money when you sign a film. Why so?
I am very dedicated [towards a film]. Work is worship for me. When I work honestly, I must be paid my due.
Going to work, for me, is like going to a temple. You pray in the morning. The same way you go to work. This was taught to me at the age of nine. I know the ways of the industry. I know how to conduct myself the right way.
New directors are coming up with good scripts.
It is nice to know that at the age of 23, I am getting all kinds of offers. They [filmmakers] too know that if they want to work with a star, then they have to pay. They can cut costs somewhere else. I am pretty fixed about my price. You won't find anyone complain about work.
Do you regret not doing Kal Ho Naa Ho?
I never regret anything. I am happy with the kind of work [I am doing]. I am only 23. I have another seven years in the industry.
Are you still friends with Karan Johar?
Yes, I am friendly with Karan again. My friendship isn't based on whether he will cast me in his next film. Losing a film is not as important as losing a friend. Those who know me will vouch that I am a real person. I prefer emotions and friendship to a film. Films will come and go. Not friends.
Why aren't you working in his next film?
I don't know. The kind of character he needs for his film won't suit me. He is very clear about his characters. As long as he is happy, it is great.
Do you depend on yourself to decide whether you should sign a film?
More or less. I am on my own. I am becoming more conscious after doing a film like Chameli. I take my own decisions on the scripts. But yes, I always consult my mother [yesteryear film star Babita] and my sister [Karisma]. The finance, however, is always taken care of by my mother.
What was the controversy about you criticising Murder?
That was a publicity stunt from them [the makers of Murder]. It was ridiculous. I saw the film and said it was nice. I just felt that there was too much overexposure.
When trade people saw Chameli, they were like, "Arre Chameli mein thoda sex missing tha [there wasn't enough sex appeal in Chameli]."
They don't understand that in Pyaasa, Waheedaji [Rehman] was not doing sex scenes [either]. I am sorry, you cannot expect Raj Kapoor's granddaughter to do those kind of scenes.
Mallika Sherawat recently made a statement saying Raj Kapoor's heroines also exposed.
She doesn't realise what she is talking about. She made a laughing stock of herself. She is talking about a legend. Raj Kapoor always presented a woman gracefully and tastefully.
Do you think the media has given you due credit?
My fans have stood by me. I have done some really bad films. My fans have stood by me. Even Madhuri [Dixit], Sridevi and Karisma [Kapoor] had bad films.
People think you are arrogant.
My self-confidence was looked upon as arrogance. That has changed. That image is passé. I know many journalists who share their work problems with me. They have become good friends. I am a normal girl.
Were you always self-confident?
As a child, I always had self-confidence. When I used to fail in mathematics [at school], I used to tell myself that I would pass one day. I used to hate maths.
Do you ever think about life and the course it is taking?
These days I don't [find the time to] 'think', because a lot of my films are releasing and I am busy giving interviews.
Fida, Bewafa, Dev and Priyadarsan's Hulchul will be released this year. I am doing a bit of comedy in Hulchul. I did some comedy in Khushi and K3G, but Khushi didn't work.
Strangely, when I went abroad people liked me in Khushi and Main Prem Ki Diwani Hoon. The NRI audiences are crazy about Hindi films. When I went to New York it was impossible for me to walk in malls. I asked a taxi driver who his favourite actresses were. He said, "Karisma, Kareena, Madhuri and Sridevi."
Many people like me because Karisma ki chhoti bahen hai [I am Karisma's younger sister].
Do flops upset you?
I have become accustomed to them. I have many flops to my name, but people still come with scripts and pay my price. I am the only actress who has given so many flops. I am very honest about it. It is quite strange that my fan following, including kids, is also increasing.