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‘I don’t have to prove a point to anyone’

After the success of Golmaal Returns and Golmaal 3, Kareena Kapoor Khan is back to form the super hit trio with Rohit Shetty and Ajay Devgn in their upcoming Singham Returns. In a tête-à-tête she reveals what the audience can expect from the film and clears the air on speculation in the industry about her forthcoming films

This is your third outing with Rohit Shetty and Ajay Devgn together…
(Cuts in) It was a great experience and I am happy and honoured to be a part of such a big sequel. More importantly, it’s a pleasure when a director repeats you for the third time. I am really happy that Rohit wrote the role keeping me in mind and that’s only because we have a great relationship and a great rack record. The three of us are on fire at the box office with Golmaal Returns, Golmaal 3 and hopefully now Singham Returns.

After Rohit Shetty’s last Golmaal series, he chose to work with Deepika Padukone in Chennai Express. Did that upset you?
Absolutely not. In fact, he really wanted me in Chennai Express but I was busy doing Talaash. So I am fine with that. I am sure he will work with other actors and that’s absolutely fine.

Singham is an established franchise and is recognised for the Ajay Devgn-Rohit Shetty combo. Were you worried about getting adequate screen space?
No, I wasn’t because even in a film like American Hustle, Jennifer Lawrence has barely six to seven scenes but she is such a powerful performer that she leaves an impression on you. So, for me, it’s never been about screen space. Even in a film like 3 Idiots, it’s not like I was in every scene but what I did was special. What people loved about my character was special. So it’s never about the length of my role. I know that Rohit would never have cast me if there wasn’t anything for me to do in the film.

You next two films – Singham Returns and Bajrangi Bhaijaan – are total masala films. Is that the kind of genre you want to do?

My film with Salman (Bajrangi Bhaijaan) is a commercial film but it is directed by Kabir Khan. It will be a very different kind of film because he is a very sensible and credible filmmaker and he has an amazing story. I decided to do the film also because I have never worked with Kabir Khan before. And it was a change of actress for Kabir. This is Kabir’s first film, after three to four previous ones, where he is working with a different actress.

I have worked with so many different directors that I want to work with new directors now. When Kabir offered me the film, it gave me a chance to work with him. During my career, from Subhash Ghai to Raju Hirani, I think I have covered the entire gamut of directors. Also, these were people I wanted to work with because they make films that are fresh.

The film has a very quirky title and you are playing a Brahmin girl. Can you tell us about your role in the film?
The film hasn’t started to roll, so I can’t really say very much about it. But I can say that I play a Brahmin girl in a Muslim story. It’s an action film but not like a regular, action-packed Salman film. The story is deep and intense, which will be a lot of fun to do.

Will we see you doing hardcore action this time?
(Laughs) No action. I will never really play an action-packed heroine, apart from driving a rickshaw in Singham Returns, if you can even call that action. That’s the limit to action that I can take. Action really gets some people going but not me. Singham Returns has 10 times the comedy which was there in the Golmaals. We have taken the comedy of those films forward. Singham is an action-packed film and the only comedy is due to my character. And with comedy, there is also romance.

Because there is no space for romance, we made it into a romantic comedy. The rickshaw scene is not really an action scene; that’s a romantic scene. I think it’s very cute.

What do you look for in a film when you decide to star in it?
(Pauses) Well, earlier, I would do movies for a lot of friends. Now, I think it’s my responsibility to read the script. Nowadays, the script is king and I have learnt that over the years. I think that’s what people want now, so that’s what I am looking for. If I don’t find something worth doing, then I will continue to do commercial, masala films because I am proud to do them. I am what I am because of commercial successes. I mean, both the Golmaals, Bodygurad, RA.One and 3 Idiots were all commercial successes and masala-packed films. And that’s just the way it is.

You have done roles that were meaty and woman-oriented, like in Chameli. Why don’t we see you doing more in that space?
I know what you are saying, but, I mean, I just did Heroine and I took a break for a year and I wanted to do a commercial, masala film because I don’t want to only do a heroine-oriented film simply because I am a pivotal plot in the film. I want to do heroine-oriented films that have great content. I don’t have to prove a point to anyone.

I have worked in this industry for 15 years and those are not my priorities. So if the script is great, then it’s fine. I wouldn’t choose a role simply because it is heroine-oriented. If the film doesn’t do well at the box office, then everyone would blame me. When the films of other actresses don’t work at the box office, no one points a finger at them. But ‘Kareena’s films’ have to be wwwdissected from the word go, from shuruaat to end. I don’t know why people expect that of me.


Were you disappointed about Heroine’s failure at the box office?
I can’t say I wasn’t disappointed. I was but only a little. I was happy when everyone applauded my performances because I believe it was one of my best performances because I gave a lot to that movie. That’s when I realised that the script has to be king. That film taught me that no matter how well you perform in a film, it’s the content that is king.

Does the audience perception change when you have two or three consecutive flops?
I think that is simply media perception. It doesn’t happen in the industry and it doesn’t happen even among our fans. After having worked in the industry for so long, I don’t think I have experienced something like this. Success and failure are part and parcel of every actor’s career. And in my career, I have faced many flops. My debut film didn’t work at the box office and then there were many other films that didn’t work one after the other. Then there was a time where I had a series of hits. So, I think it’s irrelevant.

I owe my career to both, my hits and flops. The fact that I am still working with names like Salman Khan and Rohit Shetty, after 15 years, is due to my own merit. It is a triumph to have worked for 15 years and still do well. Besides, all those hits and flops were my own choices. I decided to do those films and they will always be a part of my career. So when people write about me, they should write about my hits and also my failures; otherwise, there’s no point.

Does the box-office track record of an actress impact her career in any way?
The box-office track record is very important, which is why I like to work in commercial, masala films. As I mentioned earlier, I am what I am because of my commercial hits. And that cant be taken away from me. But, I guess, I try to strike a balance between both. I do some films that are commercial, which the Indian masses want to see and then I do a film that is slightly out-of-the-box.

Saif Ali Khan’s production house, Illuminati, makes some totally out-of-the-box films, barring Agent Vinod. Why haven’t we seen you opting for more of those?
But even Saif is taking a break from acting in the films which Illuminati produces. We did Lekar Hum Deewana Dil this year. Yeah, of course, barring Happy Ending, which is coming up. But Dinoo (Dinesh Vijan) is making Finding Fanny on his own. Saif is not involved in that production.

There is also a film that Dinesh will direct with Saif and Parineeti Chopra in the lead.
Yeah, but that’s not happening now. Right now, we have Happy Ending, which has Saif and Ileana (D’Cruz). Illuminati has nothing else on the cards. I think they also want to toss new scripts, which is fun. And it takes time to look for a great script, one that I would be willing to work in. But it’s not like I would be willing to work in it because it’s Saif’s production. I have not worked with Saif since Agent Vinod and it’s not a priority for me, to work with Saif alone.

Are you involved in Illuminati in any way?
No, not at all. They are the ones who come up with everything.

Saif doesn’t seem too happy about his last outing in Humshakals. Have you discussed it with him?
I haven’t watched the film but, I mean, it’s fine. It’s all part of the process. You have to look at his body of work in totality. It’s sad that people are ignoring all that and dissecting it the way they are. It’s very unfair. But it’s fine; it’s just a movie. It didn’t work but he tried something different and he said maybe it was a mistake. I don’t why it’s such a big deal. He has said that he takes complete responsibility of him acting in a film like that. I don’t think it’s such a big deal.

Why did you opt out of Shuddhi?
When Hrithik walked out of the film, I didn’t want to be part of the film. I had waited a year and a half to work on this film and then Hrithik decided he didn’t want to do it. To me, Shuddhi meant Hrithik and I would get back together on screen. So it didn’t work that Hrithik had just walked out. So I told Karan (Johar) it would be better if he cast someone else in the film because I didn’t want to do it. He is like a brother to me and we have a wonderful relationship. So he said, ‘It’s completely your call.’

Now that the project is afloat again, will you make a comeback to the film?

That looks difficult because I have chosen to work with Kabir and Salman. I don’t know whether that will be Salman’s next but I am already doing this film with him.

Did you opt out of Shuddhi for the same reason you didn’t do Dil Dhadakne Do? Because Ranbir Kapoor opted out of the film?
(Thinks) Yeah. It would have been wonderful if Ranbir had been part of the film. The only thing I would like to say is that it’s my loss. I would have loved to work with Zoya. She is one of the best directors ever. Maybe some time later. This didn’t work out for me because I would have to travel a lot on a cruise at a point of my life when I had just got married. It wasn’t something I wanted to do at the time. It wasn’t my priority then but my priorities are different now. I want people to respect that.

You were also going to do Dev Benegal’s film with Farhan Akhtar.
Yeah, but Farhan wants to change the script. I loved the script but Farhan had some issues with it and will probably re-write it. If they re-invent the script, then I will most definitely be part of the film because I loved it when he narrated it to me.

You have done so many types of films. Are you looking for new genres to work with?
‘Commercial’ is key. I have indeed been part of so many kinds of films, where people have said that I have worked fabulously in the film but the film didn’t do well. I am over that phase now. I want to act in films that are great. I like different kinds of movies, like Bridges Of Madison County, Revolutionary Road, Aaradhana and Abhimaan. I hope great scripts like these come my way.

Many actors have made their debut and have also proved their mettle. Are you open to working with them?

I mean, I can’t romance a Varun Dhawan! But, I don’t know, maybe someone like Arjun Kapoor. He is a good friend of mine and also looks quite rugged. But Varun is cute and so boyish, na. So that would be difficult.
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