She has done it! Finally. The catty media types who have lately labelled her Flop Queen can look elsewhere for their kicks. Kareena Kapoor has just delivered two hits in a row within two weeks. While Priyadarshan's Hulchul is an outright winner, Aitraaz released on Diwali was a slow starter, but has gone on to become what's known in the film trade as a 'commission earner'.
'In today's day and age don't you think a film that doesn't lose money and actually makes some profits is a rarity' she tells us on the sets of Priyadarshan's new non-comedy, tentatively titled Rang, in Chennai. Dressed in a sari to suit her doctor's 'serious' look, Kareena looks absolutely smashing. We can't say success has added to her radiance. Even when she was being looked upon as a Flop Queen, Kareena 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. Law of averages. Two flops'pull her down. Two hits'pull her down more. Well, the law of averages don't apply to me, coz I'm not an average person.'
This wise, wisecracking, power-packed Kareena is certainly a change from her earlier avataar when she seemed to exude only arrogance with no staying power to back her aplomb. Now with Aitraaz doing so well and Hulchul creating a hefty hulchul at the box-office, Kareena seems to be moving where she was always meant to be. 'I always knew Hulchul would be a 'massy' film. It's designed to be 'massy', though it isn't messy like some of the other big films recently,' says Kareena, tongue firmly in cheek.
Strangely all her films this year ' Chameli, Yuva, Dev, Aitraaz and Hulchul ' 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 point of 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. Audiences 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 respective careers. I've just got the reputation of a Hit Queen. Let me enjoy it na' The laughter rings true. But in all honesty, Kareena's temperament has never been slave to success or failure. From the time we've known her she has always seemed like a headstrong girl who follows the call of her heart. No role is important enough for her to sacrifice her personal happiness. And she wouldn't know how to be extra-sweet to anyone she doesn't like. Maybe, that's why she doesn't figure in any of the super-biggies. 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 Hulchul 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 Dharmesh Darshan's Bewafaa. 'It will do for me what Dharmesh's Raja Hindustani did for my sister,' she predicts. There's also a project with Shyam Benegal with whom sister Karisma reached an acme as an actress in Zubeidaa. '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 the arthouse 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.'