UP CLOSE AND PERSONAL WITH KAREENA KAPOOR AND SAIF ALI

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ANUSHA BAWANY CHATS WITH BOLLYWOOD’S POWER COUPLE ABOUT FALLING IN LOVE, LIVING IN MUMBAI AND BEING FOODIES

When did you realize a career in Bollywood was for you?
KAREENA: Because I grew up in a film family, I was constantly surrounded by the magic of this industry. I knew this is what I was meant to do ever since I was a kid.
SAIF: I can’t really say, but I think watching my mother in all those movies did have a huge influence on my decision.

Kareena, what was it like to grow up as a Kapoor?
I never really looked at it that way. We’re a big family so it was like growing up in any other big family, with extended dinner conversations, lots of cousins and a whole lot of noise.

When was your “I’ve made it” moment?
KAREENA: I would have to say Omkara.
SAIF: Dil Chahta Hai was it for me.

What makes you go for a specific role? What makes you turn a role down?
KAREENA: For me, the script is very important. The storyline has to be powerful and it has to have high audience involvement. I don’t take up a role otherwise.
SAIF: I’m focusing on strong plots and characters. If it is something with too many holes in the plot, I turn it down.

How has marriage changed you as a person? Has it changed anything for you professionally?
SAIF: I’m still Saif and she is still Kareena. We were two people in love before marriage and we are still the same people in love after marriage. Our professional commitments have no bearing on our married life and vice versa.

What are some of your favourite roles? Most challenging role?
KAREENA: Chameli was a very challenging role for me because I really had to get inside the head of a prostitute to figure out her motives for doing what she does. I also loved playing Mahi Arora in Heroine.
SAIF: Sameer in Dil Chahta Hai is one of my favorite roles, and Langda Tyagi in Omkara is another favourite.

What is your favorite item number that you’ve performed?
KAREENA: Halkat Jawani and Fevicol Se.
SAIF: An item number I loved being a part of was Beedi.

We have seen you both in many commercials together, the most memorable being Head & Shoulders. What makes you decide to endorse a specific product?
KAREENA: If it’s a product I believe in, and if it delivers on the promises it makes to the consumers, then I take up the endorsement. I also believe that if you want to look good, you have to be healthy and take care of yourself. Head & Shoulders gives you dandruff-free hair, which is the result of a healthy scalp.
SAIF: I choose an endorsement on what it is bringing to the table for the consumer. It must improve their life in some way and it must deliver what it claims to do. I have been using Head & Shoulders for over a decade and I can honestly tell you that it actually delivers on its mandate of clean, healthy hair. It prevents my hair from further damage given our modern lifestyles that often does not let us take care of our hair.

Who are your favourite designers, both and Indian?
KAREENA: Manish Malhotra is my favorite local designer, and Roberto Cavalli, D&G and Stella McCartney top the list internationally.
SAIF: Raghavendra Rathore, Gucci and Tom Ford.

Does it ever bother you to see the other in a romantic scene, or to get loads of attention from the opposite sex?
KAREENA: Not at all. It is just work; nothing personal. As far as the attention is concerned, I think it’s kind of flattering that they find my husband so attractive.
SAIF: Kareena and I have a rule – we don’t bring work home! This means we don’t discuss what we did or didn’t do on set. Also, we belong to the same industry so I think both of us understand that everything happening on set is just part of work and nothing more.

Any funny fan stories?
KAREENA: There are too many to list! I’ve had fans show up outside my house, send me random text messages and even gifts. I think my fans are responsible for my success though, so each one of them is special to me.
SAIF: Once a girl in a restaurant came up to me and said she would like to take me home. I was having dinner with my family at the time so I was caught completely off guard. We still all laugh about it.

Will we ever see you share the screen with a Pakistani actor?
SAIF: I think this exchange of talent between the two countries is an encouraging trend and I would love to be a part of this process if the right script and/or role comes along.

What is the best part about living in Mumbai?
KAREENA: I love the hustle and bustle of life in Mumbai. It can be maddening at times but I don’t think I could live anywhere else.
SAIF: Being close to work. Imagine the commute had I lived in another city.

What is something that still surprises you in this industry?
KAREENA: Gossip doesn’t affect me as much as it used to previously – I’ve learnt to deal with it. However, every now and then, I see someone taking my words out of context or misquoting me and that can be very frustrating.
SAIF: How some people can still be so close-minded. They still have a problem coming to terms with the fact that Kareena and I are married, and that we both have different spiritual paths.

What advice would you give to a younger you?
KAREENA: Take everything with a grain of salt and don’t take everything at face value.
SAIF: There are no shortcuts to success. You have to work for it constantly.

Kareena, you once said you are a foodie, a true Kapoor and a Khan. Do you cook?
I do like cooking, but not as much as I would like to. I will whip up something once in a while, particularly things that Saif likes eating.

What led you to change your name?
It just felt right to me. Saif is my husband and adding his name to mine was a natural progression for me.

If you weren’t an actress, you would be….
I think I would still be associated with the performing arts in some way or the other. I can’t imagine doing anything else. g

PHOTOGRAPHY: Harpers Bazaar India

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