Kareena Kapoor and Imtiaz Ali (below)
Director Imtiaz Ali speaks about Bebo being No. 1 and about life after Jab We Met...
When Jab We Met released, you were holidaying in the US. What was the audience reaction there?
Honestly, I was in places where people could not have known who I was. I preferred to hang out with my friends. I did go to the theatres a couple of times to see how the movie was faring. I wanted to gauge audience reaction, since I had no clue how the audiences had responded back home. In New Jersey, I went to one of the multiplexes in Oak Tree. I remember seeing a family there. A child had already seen my film once but was convincing his parents — who wanted to see another film — to see Jab We Met instead. After they had booked the tickets, I introduced myself and got first-hand feedback from the kid who had loved the film.
After Jab We Met...
Im doing Saif Ali Khans home production, which will star Saif and Deepika Padukone.
Why not Kareena?
You have to understand the importance of casting. I cannot just take an actor because she (Kareena) is my friend. You have to look at the character and find the best actor who will suit the role. I think Deepika is perfect for it.
Deepika and Kareena are two different individuals. As actors, they are different. And as far as Kareena is concerned, given her stature, you will not use her in a role that may not be as exciting as Geet in Jab We Met was. The part has to do justice to her range and talent.
Does Kareena harbour any ill will for losing out?
No, there is no ill feeling between us. Actually, we were not such good friends while we were shooting Jab We Met. After the movie released, we kept in touch and our friendship grew.
Did Saif as producer influence the choice of heroine?
No, he didnt have any say in the matter. It was very clear between the two of us that he (Saif) would only be the actor.
With Saif the actor and producer, dont you anticipate interference?
To tell you the truth, an actor — any actor, even if he is not the producer — always has the power to harass you, if he wants to. That is the reason why people prefer to work with only those actors with whom they share warm vibes. Saif has been around for a long time; everyone knows that he is not an interfering sort of person.
How has your life changed after Jab We Met ?
Not much. People around me are still the same. My daily routine remains unchanged. The major plus is that I am now being flooded with offers. But that works as a minus for me because considering the kind of person I am, I only work on one film at a time. So, I have to explain to many people why I will not be able to work with them, even though I respect them as individuals and would have loved to do so. I am also being offered much more money after the success of Jab We Met!
Would you say Jab We Met has changed Kareenas position in the industry?
Definitely. Everyone who has seen Jab We Met is talking about her looks and her acting talent. Her position as the undisputed No. 1 in the industry has been reinforced by her performance in the film.
What do you think of Kareenas work?
I was not a big fan of hers and had not seen many of her films. From the ones I did see, though I wasnt enthralled by many of her performances; some like Yuva and Omkara impressed me. I didnt like her at all in a few movies like Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham.