Star of the week: Kareena Kapoor
She has done it! Finally... the catty media types who've lately labelled her "flop queen" can look elsewhere for their kicks.
By Subhash K. Jha, IANS
Kareena Kapoor has just delivered two hits within two weeks. While Priyadarshan's "Hulchal" is an outright winner, the slow starting "Aitraaz" released on Diwali has gone on to become what's known in the film trade as a "commission earner".
"Today, don't you think a film that doesn't lose money and actually makes some profits is rarity?" she tells me in Chennai on the sets of Priyadarshan's new non-comedy, tentatively titled "Rang".
Dressed in a sari to suit her doctor's "serious" look, Kareena looks absolutely smashing. But I can't say success has added to her lustre. Even when she was being looked upon as a flop queen, she radiated supreme confidence bordering on arrogance.
"Do I look arrogant?" she shoots back. "I can't help the way I look. If it affects others, it isn't my fault. If you look at my public conduct you'll see I've never said anything nasty about anyone."
She pauses for thought. "Now of course they'll find me even more arrogant. Two flops... pull her down. Two hits... pull her down more. The law of averages doesn't apply to me, because I'm not an average person."
This wise, wisecracking, power-packed Kareena is certainly a change from her earlier avatar when she seemed to exude only arrogance with no staying power to back it up.
Now with two sudden hits, Kareena seems to be moving where she was always meant to be.
"I always knew 'Hulchal' would be a massy film. It's designed to be massy, though it isn't messy like some of the other big films recently," she says, her tongue firmly in cheek.
Strangely, all her films this year - "Chameli", "Yuva", "Dev" and now "Aitraaz" and "Hulchal" - have had one-word titles.
"And each one carried me forward as an actress. So I wasn't crying buckets at home even when they didn't do well at the box office."
Though "Aitraaz" has done well, doesn't Kareena wish she had played Priyanka Chopra's role?
"No, not really. In fact I was offered that role when it was a different set-up. But at that time I was already playing villain in 'Fida'. So I preferred playing the wife in 'Aitraaz'."
Kareena says she was disappointed by the way "Fida" was received, though not by her pairing with Shahid.
"It isn't we who failed as a pair. But our characters required us to be hostile most of the time. The audience can see how compatible we look together when Satish Kaushik's 'Milenge Milenge' is released next year."
And marriage. Kareena rolls her eyes and grins. "Where's the time to think of marriage for either of us for another five years? Both Shahid and I are extremely busy with our careers. I've just got the reputation of a hit queen. Let me enjoy it."
The laughter rings true. But in all honesty, Kareena's temperament has never been slave to success or failure.
From the time I've known her she has always seemed a headstrong girl who follows the call of her heart. No role is important enough for her to sacrifice her happiness.
And she wouldn't know how to be extra-sweet to anyone she doesn't like. May be that's why she doesn't figure in any of the super-biggies. When asked, she shrugs nonchalantly.
"It doesn't really matter. Because at the end of the day you get noticed for your work. I've given hits with Satish Kaushik, Abbas-Mustan and Priyadarshan. And excuse me for pointing this out, but 'Hulchal' has worked without any Khan. My hits are mine. And so are my flops."
Next year begins for Kareena with the author-backed role in Dharamesh Darshan's "Bewafaa".
"It will do for me what Dharamesh's 'Raja Hindustani' did for my sister (Karisma Kapur)," she predicts.
There's also a project with Shyam Benegal, with whom Karisma reached her pinnacle as an actress in "Zubeida".
"Yes, I've Shyamji's script with me. I've read it and liked it. I'll probably be doing it. But I've to balance out Govind Nihalani and Shyam Benegal with Abbas-Mustan, Satish Kaushik and Priydarshan.
"It's a myth that I accept projects only for the zeroes on the paycheque. Sure I need my money from the big commercial projects. But for art house projects I don't mind lowering my price at all. And even if it gets no bigger, I'm willing to work with Sanjay Leela Bhansali for free."