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TOP of the world

Hits or flops, there's no stopping Kareena Kapoor. SREEDHAR PILLAI talks to the actress on a high after "Hulchul".



Kareena in a new avatar. Photo: N. Balaji

KAREENA KAPOOR epitomises the spirit of today's youth. She is a fighter, indefatigable in spirit and mind. Not only is she ravishingly beautiful and photogenic, but also talented and a thorough professional — a fact that most of her producers and directors will vouch for. "I have always played it straight," she says. Her call-a-spade-a-spade attitude has cost her lot of friends and roles in the industry. She has, however, weathered brickbats, umpteen debacles and turbulent times.

Just back from Chennai after shooting for for her untitled film with Salman Khan directed by Priyadarshan, she is also quite excited about her first comedy Hulchul released recently and received well by audience. Excerpts from an interview:

You had six releases this year. No other actress has had such a chance to play such a wide variety of roles. Comment.

I am on top of the world. I don't think, it can get better than this. I guess God has been kind to me as I worked hard to reach this position. This year, I had the chance to work with some of the best directors in the industry. Chameli, my first release this year, was directed by Sudhir Mishra and the role of a sex-worker is close to my heart. Meera of Yuva, directed by Mani Ratnam, was a vibrant character. In Govind Nihalani's Dev, I played Aaliya, a girl trapped in Gujarat riots, a role where I did not use any make-up. In Fida, my role had shades of grey. In Aitraaz, I shone as a dutiful wife who saves her husband by fighting his case in the court. My new release Hulchul, directed by Priyadarshan, is a full-length comedy and I had a blast playing Anjali. I am sure the film will bring the house down. Yes, I have had an eventful year.

But you have a low success ratio at the box-office?

How do you explain the fact that Sridevi was a bigger draw than Madhuri Dixit, though she did not have as many hits? Each time, my film flops, my price soars.

I guess somebody is up there protecting me; otherwise there is no logic to my standing in Bollywood in spite of not having too many hits.

Whopping salary

Is it true that you have been signed by Harry Baweja for a record price?

Yes. I suppose it has something to do with my lucky streak [smiles]. After All, I get paid what the film maker thinks I deserve. The film is a launch pad for producer Harry Baweja's son Harnam.

How do you choose a film?

There should be some spark in the script that excites me to take up the role. For example, in this Priyadarshan film, I play a psychiatrist in a mental asylum, who delves into the mind of the hero and helps him to come out of his depression. Salman is the hero. My role is powerful and satisfying as an actor. I have done too many candy floss movies in the past and have decided to experiment with different characters.

But the market buzz is that you don't compromise on your exorbitant salary for good roles and that's the reason why you lost out on Kal Ho Naa Ho?

Money really matters to me. As a policy, I don't reduce my fee however big the director or film is. I agree that I missed out on a beautiful film like Kal Ho Naa Ho but I stand by my decision.

Who is your role model?

Undoubtedly, Sridevi as she had immense screen presence.

Style conscious

They say you pay minute attention to the clothes you wear on screen?

I am particular about the clothes I wear in every film. For Chameli, I wore cotton saris that suited the character of a street walker. In Hulchul, I wore some hip clothes and for this film I am currently doing, I wear pure cotton saris after discussing the character with Priyadarshan. Based on the brief that the director gives me, Manish Malhotra designs my wardrobe.


You have admitted in many interviews that food is your only weakness. How do you manage to stay slim?

I am a foodie, typical of the Kapoor clan. I am a pure non-vegetarian and prefer Chinese cuisine. I enjoy good food. In fact, while shooting in Chennai, Priyadarshan had sent me some home-made Malabar fish curry and Chettinad prawns for lunch and I freaked out. But I work out every day and manage to stay slim. Also, it's my lucky genes, I suppose! [bursts out laughing]

Are you doing any Tamil or Telugu films?

I will not be doing any regional films as I am not comfortable with the language. I think that an actor should be fluent in the language to give the right feel to the character he or she plays.

No marriage plans

You have been linked with Shahid Kapoor. Comment.

Shahid is more of a companion and we vibe well. Both of us are 23 and too young for marriage. Right now, I am focussed on my career; marriage can wait for another six to eight years.

What are your projects for next year?

Next year will be as good as this year. In January, there's Dharmesh Darshan's Bewafaa with Akshaye Khanna, then Milenge Milenge with Shahid, then the untitled Priyadarshan film with Salman, Sanjay Leela Bhansali's Bajirao Mastani with Salman Khan, and again his home production titled My Punjabi Wedding.

I look forward to an exciting year ahead.

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