Heroine No. 1
For quite a while now this Heroine has been in news though not necessarily for the right reasons. From size zero to adding flesh not only around bellybutton but also legs and arms as well; criticism for taking potshots at rival Katrina Kaif in the end-September release, Madhur Bhandarkar’s Heroine in which she had replaced Aishwarya Rai after news of her pregnancy had made headlines; protests pouring in for the dialogue from the same film—“Heroine Dubai gayi toh uska rate card ban jata hai” (When a heroine visit Dubai, people create a rate card for her); from her now-on now not-so-on marriage to current beau, the new Nawab of Pataudi on whose head the crown seems to have become a bane rather than a boon and after Agent Vinod even Cocktail has been declared run out in the bouncy box office ticket wicket.
Media has tended to describe ‘controversy’ as her middle name. Controversies have chased her like a shadow in her rise to the enviable slot. Dubbed arrogant Kapoor when she made her debut opposite Abhishek Bachchan in JP Datta’s Refugee (2000), she was severely criticised for her overbearing attitude which she sought to clarify as ‘confidence’. She was summarily shown the exit door by Karan Johar when she demanded higher price, and billing for Kal Ho Naa Ho. Later, in his television show, she described rival Priyanka Chopra as no actress, but soon covered tracks subsequently. She tried to cover up her dalliance with Shahid Kapoor until one caught her kissing him in a restaurant. She vehemently denied, calling it morphed.
The publicity posters of Kurbaan displayed her bare back with the new man in her life, Saif Ali Khan which prompted a political party to gift her a saree to cover her up. Mercifully, she hasn’t denied her live-in relationship with Saif, and their association has been nicknamed Saifeena. Lately, her seen smoking in the poster of Heroine has opened up yet another can of worms. And last, but not least her losing out Sanjay Leela Bansali’s Ram Leela because of her impending marriage, and the maker’s stand that a married heroine will harm his ambitious venture. Her forthcoming starrers include Heroine and Talaash with Aamir Khan.
A fourth generation scion of Bollywood’s first family that has dominated the Hindi cinema scene for the last eight of the ten decades of its existence, Kareena had stardom in her genes, and natural grooming during growing-up years under the glittering sky on earth. The patriarch Prithviraj Kapoor had made his acting debut in a silent film, Cinema Girl (1929), and grandfather Raj and granduncles, Shammi and Shashi Kapoor ruling the rostrum from the early 50s to mid-80s by which time uncle Rishi had firmly established himself as a major star. For all practical reasons, Kareena’s entry coincided with the exit of elder sister, Karishma (winner of a National, and four Filmfare Awards), and despite ups and downs there hasn’t been a looking back as she moved from strength to strength.
Beginning with Refugee (for which she won the Best Female Debut Award) she has since worked in 41 more movies, excluding five where she made a special appearance (Kya Love Story Hai, Halla Bol, Luck By Chance, Billu, Rowdy Rathore in 07,08,09,12 respectively). She is also rumoured to be doing an item number in Dabangg 2. Nominated six times for the Filmfare Best Actress Award (Asoka, Kabhie Khushi Kabhie Gham [supporting], Omkara, Kurbaan, 3 Idiots, Golmaal 3) she lifted the coveted trophy five times Chameli (Special Performance), Dev (Critics Award), Jab We Met (Best Actress), Omkara (Critics’ Award), We Are Family (Best Supporting Actress).
She had been the original choice for the Heroine role because of date problems working opposite all the Khans, one after the other, or even simultaneously: Bodyguard, Ra.One, Talaash, and home production of sorts, Agent Vinod. But once Madhur Bhandarkar was forced to scrap a major chunk done with replacement, Aishwarya Rai due to her pregnancy, the maker reverted back to the original choice who after considerable dilly-dallying agreed, one supposes, not only to bail out the troubled director but also what might turn out to be another crowning glory, though many both in the trade and outside have been seeking to describe it as her ‘Dirty Picture’ and her answer to Shiela Ki Jawani because she dances to the sound of Halkat Jawani. Speaking to a Bollywood News Service, she said: “Heroine is not a dirty picture. I accepted it because of its script, not to compete with anyone… It has been my dream since childhood I always wanted to be a ‘heroine’. I used to listen to Madhuri and Sridevi songs on my walkman, thinking I would become an actor one day. The journey wouldn’t have been complete without Bhandarkar’s Heroine. I am so glad this film was in my destiny.”
Replying to another query about the extent to which it is true to life, and setting aside any speculation about possible comparisons that might get singled out leading to controversy, she said: “It is fictitious; we are not portraying anybody as such. It is a biopic, but it is based on a screenplay and story he has (Bhandarkar) thought up. We haven’t followed anybody in particular. My character, Mahi, is bold, edgy and aggressive, but I don’t think I am like that in real life.”
Over the years Kareena has emerged the favourite co-star of not only the three big Khans but also other top-ranking actors. She has starred opposite Shah Rukh in Asoka, Kabhie Khushi Kabhie Gham, Don, Billu and Ra.One Rohit Shetty has denied he is casting them together in Chennai Express; acted with Aamir Khan (3 Idiots, forthcoming Talaash); with Salman Khan (Kyon Ki, Mr & Mrs Khanna, Bodyguard), Akshay Kumar (Ajnabee, Talaash, Aitraaz, Bewafaa, Dosti, Tashan, Kambakht Ishq), Ajay Devgn (Kargil, Yuva, Omkara, Golmaal Returns, Golmaal 3); Hrithik Roshan (Yaadein, Mujhse Dosti Karogi, Main Prem ki Diwani Hoon). And, of course, four each with ex-lover Shahid Kapoor (Fida, Chup Chup Ke, Jab We Met, Milenge Milenge), and the present one, Saif Ali Khan (LOC Kargil, Omkara, Kurbaan, Agent Vinod). What more can a heroine at 31ask for: hit projects, big co-stars, dependable directors, and, of course, good mullah? Kareena has got them on a platter.
By Suresh Kohli