She has the best of banners. She has directors keeling over to cast her in their films. The best of heroes from Vivek Oberoi to Salman Khan to Akshay Kumar and Fardeen Khan are pitted against her. Yet, the ravishing, talented and extremely intelligent Kapoor girl consistently fails to set the box office on fire. Kareena Kapoor has had the best of roles laid out to her on a golden platter.
From the scheming, diabolic manipulator in Fida to the low-profile psychiatrist in Kyo Ki through the charming, no-holds-barred girl-in-love in Yuva or the young Muslim girl caught in the communal crossfire in Dev or the wronged wife trying to rescue her husband from scandal in Aitraaz, Kareena has proved herself again and again and yet again.
Her price tag is high enoughto send shivers of envy running through some of her peers. But box office success continues to elude her.
Did a sense of desperation drive her to agree to execute an item number in Don? Confront her and she comes across as one of the most disarming and candid stars in the industry.
"The item number is a challenge. This is the first time I will be performing an item number. The entire choreography is special and different. I am focusing on the costume, the look, the works while others are stressing on the props, the sets, the totality of the production design.
"Farhan Khan may put in some special computer effects in the number. We will get a better pictureonly after the shooting is complete. I am doing the dance number Helen-ji performed in the original Don. I cannot even imagine trying to compete with Helen-ji, she is incomparable. But it is a challenge, nevertheless and I am trying to meet it the best way I can," says Kareena.
Her role of Desdemona in the film version of the Shakespearean tragedy, Othello directed by Vishal Bharadwaj is more fascinating. Kareena feels that no one can guarantee the audience response to a Shakespearean classic.
"But the role is a challenge. The attraction in Othello is the chance to act with Ajay Devgun and Naseeruddin Shah. If the screenplay can keep the audience captive for two hours, then the story, the backdrop, the classical element do not matter."
Kareena plucks for the Indian look over the Western look. This is a misnomer because from the beginning, Kareena represents the hep, upwardly mobile, Westernized young girl who is not afraid of shaking a leg or sizing up probable boyfriends in films like Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gum.
"That is what the female characters in mainstream Hindi films are made of. They represent the urban Indian girl who has studied in high-profile, English medium schools and I think directors feel I fit the bill. Who says it is an un-Indian image? I am yet to play a total Bharatiya Naari (Indian woman) role. Even Chameli was different though I always wore a sari in the film. "
She will never allow her heart to rule her head. "Most women get fooled because they allow their emotions to rule their intellect. I am very emotional where my family members, my friends and some of my professional peers are concerned. I hate people who are overly concerned about other people's lives and keep making jibes at them.
I know that this is probably rooted in a sense of social, emotional and moral insecurity. But I still do not condone such behaviour. I am fiercely possessive of my privacy but sadly, the media does not seem to care. Violation of privacy disturbs me a lot," says Kareena.
"At 21, I feel as if I have finished living out my life. My varied roles took me close to different kinds of women, making me come to terms with different realities in the lives of women, both good and bad. I belong to a family steeped in films and I am proud of it. I have come to love the industry as well," confesses Kareena. At the same time, she says that one has to pay the price of stardom, which does not come cheap, no matter what others might think.
She has taken into stride things she was once forced to do because of her stardom and her celebrity status. As a star, she says she has to go to parties to make herself visible when a film is being launched or released or its music is being released.
"I must dress up to my teeth even if I am not in the mood, and must flash smiles at photographers or give interviews. It is part of the game plan and I cannot deny it, morally or socially. The word 'privacy' disappears from one's life when one becomes a star. "
"It is not a happy feeling to know that everyone will know by next morning what she wore where, when she went for what and with whom, and how she came back with whom and at what hour. But I have taught myself to enjoy this and then there are few problems," says the perky actress.
One gets a glimpse of the real Kareena Kapoor only when she talks about her marriage plans. "Marriage is a big 'no-no' for me for at least the next five years. Now it is work, work and work. Eventually, I want to get married. I might marry a rich man not from the industry or an NRI maybe.
But I will not tolerate interference or oppression from my husband. I will not accept his behaviour if it comes in the way of our happiness. In that sense, I might decide to terminate the relationship if the marriage fails to work rather than stick on to a dead one."
That is Kareena Kapoor unplugged.