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Billion Dollar Bebo

Everything she does hits the headlines. And nothing seems to faze her, either on or off screen. Today, she’s the only actress with three films that have breached the Rs 100-crore mark, and her latest release, Bodyguard, is still breaking records. The woman in the news, as always, is Kareena Kapoor in conversation with Vajir Singh

Are the congratulatory messages still flowing in?

Trust me, a lot of people are not getting tickets for the movie so they are still waiting to watch it. This is a second time after Jab We Met that I have received this kind of reaction. Ek hota hai ki har film ke liye everyone sends congratulatory messages. But when you have the kind of success that Bodyguard has, the response is different. Everyone knew that Bodyguard would do well and it would open with a bumper response but no one expected a response this huge, so abhi high chal raha hai uska. 

After a long time, the heroine has played a substantial role in a Salman Khan starrer, in Bodyguard.

Many people have told me that this has not happened in a long time. The second half of the film becomes a totally emotional love story. I think people are a little taken aback. But I guess they should have known that since I starred in the film, I wouldn’t have done a small role or just a song-and-dance sequence. Everyone should know that it would be a substantial role, like a takkar ka role, which has always been a criterion with me. Even in Golmaal 3, although there were so many guys, Dabboo’s character was always in focus. That is important to me. 

Are people now writing scripts with Kareena Kapoor in mind? Or has it always been that way?

(Pauses) People know that if they want me in their film, they would have to give me a meaty role or that there has to be something for me to do, otherwise I would not do the film. I have given off this vibe from the very beginning, that I will not do just a song-and-dance routine. I love song and dance in our cinema but I also need something more in the roles I play. 

How confident were you about the success of Bodyguard?

I had told everyone that I was confident about it. In fact, everyone was shocked about how confident I was. I announced on my BB status that it would be a hit because the script was very different from what Salman has been doing for the last three to four years. And, of course, Eid pe lagne wali thi toh people would surely watch it. 

But did you expect the film to create history in terms of the opening and first week?

I think the chemistry was evident in the promos themselves. So I was 100 per cent sure the film would be a super-hit. I was expecting it to do well. But this dhamaka has been too much of a shock. 

Everyone is talking about Ajay, Aamir and Salman’s movies crossing Rs 100 crore. But no one is talking about you. Three of your films have done well. What do you think of that?

(Laughs) I think everyone is talking about it. I think it’s the right kind of script and also that these guys are making the right kind of choices. I’m happy that all of them have wanted me in their movies. All of them were, like, Bebo ko le lo. When Salman saw the original version of Bodyguard, he told Alvira and Atul ke iss role ke liye Bebo ko hi lena.  

Since the three films that did well feature no other actress, you are competing with yourself.

Right now, yes. And also with each of my future releases, I will be competing with myself. 

Do you remember the trade said you were jinxed with the Khans?

(Cuts in) This industry likes to assign tags. So someone becomes their lucky mascot. But picture script pe chalti hai aur kitna chalti hai that also depends on the script. Some films make a certain amount of profit and some films like 3 Idiots may run forever. I am very lucky to be part of 3 Idiots, Golmaal 3 and Bodyguard, which have become cult films and have broken records. So the script is very important.

The films made in the early 2000s were different kind of films but how many of them crossed Rs 100 crore? This started happening with 3 Idiots and Ghajini. I just happened to be in those films, where the scripts started improving a lot. Raju (Raj Kumar Hirani) was sure that I do 3 Idiots as there were two important scenes that he felt only I could do. That’s a bigger compliment. 

Will anything less than Rs 100 crore satisfy you now?

I think RA.One should do Rs 200 crore, more than 200 in fact. That’s what we are expecting as RA.One is one man’s film. It’s about one man’s passion. I’ve worked on this film and I know more than anyone else that Shah (Shah Rukh Khan) has really put his life into it. And he’s done everything. So I am hoping that this film break all records. If that happens, I will be in every film that breaks all records. (Laughs) 

Since you’re working with all the Khans, that doesn’t seem impossible.

That’s a big honour. And what is really great is that each one knows I was in the other’s films. Like, they knew I was in RA.One as SRK signed me first. Salman knew I was in RA.One but that didn’t stop him from signing me in Bodyguard. Aamir knew I had signed Bodyguard but he still called me for Reema’s film. Saif knew I was doing all these films but he insisted that I do Agent Vinod. Saif was sure that only I could play the role. So people are, like, arrey yeh uski camp ki hai etc. etc. It’s all rubbish! You get work because of your talent and those who want to work with you… directors who feel that you suit a particular role.

Speaking of Agent Vinod… Will we get to see you doing action in the film?

In Agent Vinod, I did a little bit of action but I am not the action kind of girl. I am more the chhammak chhalo girl and I like doing performance-oriented roles. Action is not my cup of tea. During RA.One, I told Shah, “Dance kara lo mere se but don’t make me do action.” I have told Saif also, “Please don’t make me do action.”  

But you have done almost everything and action is the only thing left. So don’t you think you should do what you haven’t done before?

No. There’s more to cinema than doing action-oriented roles. Like Madhur Bhandarkar’s Heroine… I am excited about it. I have got a different role. I want to play roles that I really enjoy. I don’t want to do a role because I haven’t done it before or because someone else is doing it. I am not going to do action just because someone is doing it. I don’t think I would look good doing action. 

With Heroine, you’re now the highest-paid actress.

Shhhhh. (Laughs) 

All your forthcoming releases are different from each other. Is that deliberate?

It is important for me to do different types of films. I want to do films where I have a great role that I haven’t done before. RA.One is a huge film and I have a lovely role. Like, even in Bodyguard, people were wondering, kya role hoga yeh film mein? RA.One mein, the girl is very important as the whole film is based on her family. 

But every film has a male-oriented title… Bodyguard, RA.One and Agent Vinod.

(Laughs) Even in Agent Vinod, the girl’s role is super-powerful. I think now the directors are becoming very conscious of the girl’s role. Even in Jab We Met, the girl’s role was really important. Heroines today are very lucky compared to Karisma’s time. They had to act in Shyam Benegal’s films to prove themselves as actresses. Here, we have some great roles to do. Roles are actually being witten for actresses today.

Actors today are reluctant to accept more than two to three films but you’re doing five films back to back.

I want to take a holiday. I am not going to do this next year. So many films karne se we are all dead. It’s just one big film after another. Next year, I will accept only two big films, that’s it. 

Five films in hand (RA.One, Agent Vinod, Ek Main Ekk Tu, Dhuan and Heroine) and 17 brand endorsements. How do you do it?

(Laughs) Now even brand people are getting irritated as I don’t have dates. That’s why I want to do two great films a year. Commercial films and great films, good roles, and time to endorse my brands. You know, they have been very upset as I have been shooting continuously and all of them outdoor shoots… seven outdoor shoots. RA.One was in London, Bodyguard was in Patiala. I haven’t seen my mother in months. I get to see her once a month. She is, like, what’s the point if you are making so much money but I get to see my daughter just once? Now, I want to give more time to my family.

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