In the media lounge at Doha Watches and Jewellery Exhibition, “She’s 15 minutes out,” says her manager, popping her head around the door, as a phalanx of assistants move silently about a fabulous, temporary, shimmering grotto of couture. It’s the tiffany powder blue jacket I see, which seems to be freshly delivered from a couture house and steamed press to perfection. Naturally, 10 minutes comes and goes, but eventually, at an indeterminate point in superstar time, the door finally opens and through it emerges a 5ft 4in figure dressed in a powder blue couture piece, statement diamond necklace and impossibly high matching Louboutins. It is a curious experience to encounter a pop culture legend giving you her most quintessential vibe, and Kareena has not disappointed. Already photographs taken moments ago of her short walk from her car into the building are pinging on social media. “Let’s talk!” she says by way of hello.
There is an art to being Kareena Kapoor Khan which is to say that rising to Bollywood’s one of the most sought-after actors is not a status achieved by just bungling your exit from a limo. Everybody loves Kareena Kapoor Khan. This is a fact. Nobody in the history of the world, especially from South Asia, has ever had another take. However, the truth remains you do feel intimidated by her presence, it’s the energy!
But while the initial energy is remote and flighty, it takes absolutely no time at all to become riveted by her. Astonishingly famous since her early teens, hers is a fate perhaps only understood by a handful of people during mass media’s relatively short history. One’s reductive first instinct is to interpret her thrilling lack of chill as toxic-media-induced, post- stardom neurosis. But she is having none of that. She is grounded and now after about two decades of being in Bollywood, she’s someone who’s poised. In truth, she is sage, witty and unpredictable, prone to find the whole machinery of fame ridiculous and damaging – especially for women. Growing up as the daughter of veteran Bollywood actor Randhir Kapoor and Babita, and sister Karisma Kapoor, Kareena had a vantage point on fame and cinema that few do. She knows that as she walks out the cameras will accost her however it doesn’t really bother her as she starts to chat animatedly about her visit to Qatar, being a part of DJWE and what jewellery appeals to her.
“I think Doha is amazing. I had a brief visit about a decade ago, but so much has changed and it’s absolutely amazing to be here today at the 20th Edition of Doha Watches and Jewellery Exhibition,” Kareena adds, “Doha is a phenomenal city. People are obviously coming here whether to enjoy the different cultural parts of it, business, work or for Qatar’s kindness and hospitality which I’ve experienced today here at the exhibit. I think that is why everyone wants to be here. My son is a football fan, so I’m hoping to catch some football here.”
There are very few actors who are able to make a name for themselves as an independent actor away from the shadow of their equally successful parents and siblings. However, that didn’t stop her from serving the characters that are deemed to be iconic. She played Poo in Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham (K3G) in 2001, which was her second film, but was the moment of an upward projection for her career. Since then, she has only gone from strength-to-strength for every character she has played. Poo had a duality in her that not many female characters in Hindi cinema possessed at the time – she was vain and self-indulgent, but also self-sufficient and comfortable in her skin. In today’s time if we draw a parallel, and when we watch Gossip Girl, one of the iconic TV Shows, we’re instantly reminded of Kareena in K3G although there’s quite a difference in timeline of when K3G was released and when Gossip Girl aired.
Does she think that her role was way ahead of its time that really defined pop culture for South Asians? She responds, “I completely believe it was the most iconic, female led character because of the fact that you had never seen somebody be so outlandish and confident but lovable at the same time. The female characters were always about the saree clad, typical wives that were playing the part and dancing to the songs, but Poo was a character that actually stood against everything to be herself and that is the reason why you say it’s truly iconic. And we’re talking about it after about 24 years.”
Kareena adds, “Nobody really thought that it will become such a craze. It was funny and fun but obviously when you look back and say Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham, the first thing you say is Poo. I don’t think I can go back and do it all over again at this point. There is something of Poo in everyone and every little girl.”
Over her two decade-long career, she has not only proven herself to be a fearless master of reinvention, but has also bridged the world’s of art cinema and storytelling. In 2017, many people fell in love with Geet in Jab We Met. But does it inspire Kareena as an actor to surpass her previous performance every time she’s part of a new project, she says, “I think no two characters should ever be compared because every year films change, writers change, people write different roles and actors come along ... every decade you’d have a different bunch of beautiful actresses and actors doing different roles. Few parts, in your career, if you have two or three great roles that you can look back at after 30 years and say this was it — it will still have something about me which I’ve tried to push myself. I know Geet will always be looked back upon as the best but I will obviously still try and better that. But it was a different time, and now is a different time.”
DJWE has an extensive display of classic and contemporary luxury collections by internationally recognised brands and designers as well as local designers, with diamonds and emeralds taking the centre stage. Diamonds, they say, are a girl's best friend. Asked what sort of jewellery appeals to the actor, she says: “I like more statement pieces and love diamonds and emeralds.”
People in South Asia consider jewellery as heirloom pieces. Coming from royalty is there a specific piece that has been passed on to the actor over the generation? Kareena Kapoor responds, “Saif has given me his great grandmother’s emerald cut piece, which we’ve made into a long neck piece. That stone has come down to four generations is close to me.”
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