Kareena Kapoor turns 43 on September 21. Interestingly, the day also marks her foray into the OTT space with Netflix's Jaane Jaan, out on September 21.
One may conclude it was planned, but nothing ever really is, she said over the phone in a chat with City Times. Kareena is just happy the two celebratory occasions fall on the same day, especially because it is her debut venture with Netflix. "I truly believe it is an honest platform which is so committed to making good content globally," the actor said, adding that she is elated to have gotten the opportunity to work with the entire team.
Kareena loves watching thrillers, so when the opportunity to be a part of Sujoy Ghosh's upcoming film arose, it was a no-brainer for the Talaash actor.
Kareena has established herself as one of Bollywood's leading divas with a remarkable number of box-office hits in a career spanning over two decades and Jaane Jaan's release on OTT has not affected her stardom in any way. The OTT space continues to grow with several Bollywood as well as Hollywood stars working in films or shows produced specially for OTT. And Kareena believes 'today, it is all about just telling the story'.
"The medium, or where you watch it, doesn't really matter," she said. "Big-ticket films release in cinemas, but a month later, they're out on OTT platforms as well. So I believe the idea is for people to watch the story and appreciate the performance (if they like it)."
Kareena comes from a family of entertainers who have made vast contributions to the entertainment industry, including theatre. She cited how another film, The Buckingham Murders, in which she stars, is set to premiere at BFI London Film Festival next month. "So I've never really shied away from doing different things," she said. "I am at this stage of my life where stories are important, so is my passion for acting. I am trying to balance it out with releases, but the main idea is to keep doing different things."
In Jaane Jaan, an adaptation of the 2005 Japanese novel, The Devotion of Suspect X, Kareena plays Maya D'souza, a single mother involved in a murder mystery. We wondered what it took for the actor to get into the skin of her intense character.
She said performing in a thriller was slightly tricky, because "you cannot let out a lot through your expressions."
"It is a lot more internal and intense," she added. "It is quite tough for an actor to find that balance in a thriller; how much you have to convey to the audience, or how much you are supposed to hold back till the end."
But with apt guidance from Sujoy and her co-actors, Kareena thoroughly enjoyed working in Jaane Jaan. "With Sujoy being so clear about the script, and just working with Jaideep (Ahlawat) and Vijay (Varma), taking so much inspiration from the way they play their characters, made it quite easy."
Sujoy is famous for his thrillers (Kahaani, Badla) which often have author-backed roles for female protagonists. And with Kareena's liking toward the genre, it turned out to be a perfect match for both parties.
Kareena who is fixated on murder mysteries and crime dramas and has watched almost all the crime dramas on OTT platforms, went on to shower praise for the film maker. "He (Sujoy) is a master storyteller in this genre," she said. "He keeps the audience completely engaged till the end, and it is difficult to do that in crime thrillers, but obviously Sujoy has always tried to give something different to the audience."
"With Jaane Jaan, he's woven a thriller with a love story which is really beautiful. That is something I am really looking forward to. Ultimately, it was a lovely experience because he was so clear as to how much the actors should be giving on set, he made it so easy for all of us," she added.
It wasn't just the fact that Kareena loved thrillers, but the entire combination of the platform's reach, the plot, its director and cast that made the Bollywood diva to instantly be a part of the project.
Speaking in praise of her co-stars, Kareena said, "Jaideep and Vijay are amazing artists, they bring a lot of freshness to the entire plot."
The newly-formed trio of Kareena, Vijay, and Jaideep for Jaane Jaan looks like a perfect mix of star power and acting excellence. And their chemistry is off the charts, with the two actors even mentioning how they call themselves 'Bebo Ke Babies'.
And Kareena feels really lucky, especially because a lot of people have put their faith in the three actors coming together to deliver a thrilling experience. "We have, very earnestly, put our performances forward," she said. "Because our energies are so different that when we work together, there's some really amazing chemistry between the three of us. So I am lucky to have worked with both Jaideep and Vijay."
Vijay, who is currently dating another Bollywood actor Tamannaah, has created quite the buzz in the last year with performances in Darlings, Dahaad and more. He recently mentioned how he was nervous shooting a romantic scene with Kareena.
But the diva has, over the years, realised that it is just like any other scene. "Maybe some people can get conscious, but I think as a professional, you have to look and think for yourself," she said. "I think Vijay is being very kind by saying that because I don't think he can be nervous as he is such a seasoned and fantastic actor. He has an inherent charm about him, which he has brought about in this film. You're used to seeing him in negative roles, whereas in Jaane Jaan, there's quite the charm he's revealed, which I think he is aware of."
While Jaane Jaan releases on Netflix, it has been a great year for Bollywood so far in terms of box-office collections. Shah Rukh Khan wreaked havoc with films like Pathaan and Jawan, Sunny Deol and Ranveer Singh also reaped massive earnings from Gadar 2 and Rocky Aur Rani Kii Prem Kahaani, respectively.
Kareena, however, hasn't seen Jawan which released earlier this month. But both Kareena and her husband Saif Ali Khan are huge admirers of Shah Rukh, she says, adding that she is "dying" to see the film.
"I truly believe that when you call him the emperor or the conqueror of Indian film industry, he really is," she said. "He has taken cinema forward intelligently, and has been this wise, bright mind, who always wanted to push the boundaries and take it global on every level. Whenever I walk out of the country, I feel very proud because there are so many places abroad where the first name that pops up when you mention India is Shah Rukh Khan. He truly has that ability that the world, including Saif and I, adores."
So is it star power or big-budget films that will bring Bollywood back on track, we asked. "I think it is a combination. I haven't seen Jawan but I believe it is a fantastic film," she said. "At the end of the day, the audience will always laud a good film. If it is a good film, it is going to run at the box office. So I believe that it is the combination of giving them (the audience) entertainment and the goodness of star power."
That said, Kareena possesses both, the ability to entertain and the star power. She is also an inspiration to a number of women outside show business, who feel that their careers are over after a certain age. For the actor, however, there was no real plan to bust these stereotypes around the leading ladies in Bollywood.
"There was no blueprint formula to it," she said. "I have always been myself and done exactly what I wanted to and thought would work. Sometimes they work out, sometimes they don't. The only key is that I have always taken my success and failures on my chin and never taken my stardom seriously.” That helped Kareena brave a lot of decisions in her life because she understood that in life, nothing lasts forever.
"If I want to do something, I must do it now," she said. "So whether it was getting married to an actor, or having two children and still following my dreams is something that I've always believed that every woman has the possibility to do and should do."
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