“AFTER THE pandemic, people want to go out and enjoy themselves. If a film is well-made, it is going to make money and kill it at the box-office. It has always been like that. Having that perfect masala entertainer with a good script that will engage the audience,” said actor Kareena Kapoor Khan, referring to the recent success of films such as Pathaan and Jawan.
Kapoor Khan, who is making her streaming debut this month with the Sujoy Ghosh-directed thriller Jaane Jaan, was the chief guest at The Indian Express Adda in Mumbai on Monday. The film, an official adaptation of the bestselling novel Devotion of Suspect X by Keigo Higashino, will release on Netflix on September 21.
Speaking about Jaane Jaan, Kapoor Khan said: “I was nervous. I knew people were going to watch this movie at home. While watching something on OTT, people are a lot more attentive. In the cinema halls, they are looking for popcorn, enjoying the songs… people are going crazy watching Jawan and Pathaan. Performances are watched more carefully while watching something at home. It’s an intimate experience.”
The Adda was moderated by The Indian Express National Features Editor Devyani Onial and Entertainment Editor Jyoti Sharma Bawa.
Talking about the changes she has noticed during her career spanning 23 years, the actor said that “thanks to media” the way how male and female actors were treated has changed for the better. She believed that “Bollywood has tried to challenge itself and push itself a lot of times. We have only grown over the years.” However, she was of the opinion that the Hindi film industry can try to improve the “working conditions” and follow “organised timings”. Today, “the power of stars has increased due to accessibility,” Kapoor Khan said and added that “the clout of the last name has decreased”.
Though she is known for being part of several critically and commercially successful movies, she was warned that after her marriage with actor Saif Ali Khan, in 2012, her career might take a beating. “I was madly in love and I thought let’s see what happens. It was a lot to do with the fact that I was confident… My mother-in-law (Sharmila Tagore) gave me a lot of confidence. She acted in so many amazing movies after Saif was born. She told me to challenge myself and them (producers),” she said. “Saif comes from a home where women are at the forefront. He was very relaxed about the fact that I wanted to work.”
Kapoor Khan also stated that she didn’t dwell on the age difference between them (she will turn 43 this month and Saif turned 53 in August), nor was she concerned about their different faiths. “When has age ever mattered? He is hotter than ever. I am happy I am 10 years younger, he should be worried. Age does not matter, what matters is respect and love and the fact that we have fun with each other.”
Talking about their interfaith marriage, Kapoor Khan said: “We spend so much time and energy discussing interfaith (relationships). The important thing is to have fun. We like each other and enjoy each other’s company. How should it matter how old he is and what faith we are following. That isn’t even a point of discussion.”
However, what bothered her earlier was the thought of balancing her “marriage and career” since she wanted to continue working. But her concerns were proven wrong. “Right now, my plate is full and I am doing some amazing work…This has given confidence to a lot of girls. People didn’t want to speak about their relationships earlier. It is normal to be in a relationship or love.” After Jaane Jaan, she will be seen in Hansal Mehta’s next, The Buckingham Murders, which will premiere at the 67th BFI London Film Festival. She is one of the lead actors in The Crew, which also features Tabu and Kriti Sanon.
Being a prominent celebrity, the actor is well aware of the perils of social media. When asked about its negative impact on the youth, she said: “Social media has a certain look that everyone wants to follow. It is scary. One has to be mentally strong and say, ‘This is it. I can’t get carried away. Everyone has to love themselves the way they are’. Friends and family should keep telling this (to the youngsters) so that they have that security. It starts at home. We should give confidence to the child from a young age.”
Parenting in the time of social media can be tough. This has been especially challenging for Kapoor Khan and Ali Khan given the obsession of paparazzi with their son Taimur. “It was tough navigating that space. When photographers followed Taimur, hiding his face would have left a bigger impact on him. Saif said let it be and we would request them (paparazzi) as much as we can. Taimur started noticing it when he was around four years old and asked about it. When I explained it to him, he said ‘I am not famous. Why are they clicking my photos?’,” Kapoor Khan said. She added: “I wanted him to have a normal life.”
At home, Kapoor Khan has taken steps to create a more positive atmosphere for their sons. The actor shared that she was once asked by her son Taimur why his nanny sat at a different table when they had their meals. Soon after, she and Saif Ali Khan made sure that their nannies sit with them and they all eat together. “My boys’ nannies are eating with them because that’s just the way both Saif and I have addressed it, because Taimur has asked and Jeh is already asking, ‘Why are you sitting there? Sit here’,” she said.
Previous guests at the Adda include Union Minister of External Affairs S Jaishankar, Union Minister of Road Transport and Highways and MSMEs Nitin Gadkari, Union Minister of Health Mansukh Mandaviya, Union Minister of Housing and Urban Affairs and Petroleum and Natural Gas Hardeep Singh Puri, oncologist and author Siddhartha Mukherjee, Union Minister of Railways, Electronics & IT and Communications Ashwini Vaishnaw and filmmaker Karan Johar.