Interview Hindi

I enjoyed my pregnancy period: Kareena Kapoor Khan on Good Newwz

Actress Kareena Kapoor Khan speaks about gorging on food, tiring out her doctor by asking too many questions, and preparing for Taimur's upcoming birthday, during a media interaction to promote Good Newwz.

Shriram Iyengar

Kareena Kapoor Khan laughed when someone suggested she is among the more health-conscious members of the Kapoor clan, the famed first family of Hindi cinema.

Born in a family renowned for its love of food and drink, the actress admitted she has kept a close watch on her diet. But that wasn't so during her pregnancy. "I used to eat like 5–10 parathas a day. Now I just eat one!" she said.

Then, guiltily, she added, "This time, for Laal Singh Chadha (2020), we were shooting in Amritsar and Chandigarh, so I had two. That was excitement."

There is more excitement in store as the actress is now enjoying the release of Good Newwz. The film, directed by Raj Mehta, was released yesterday, 27 December, and features Kapoor Khan alongside Akshay Kumar, Diljit Dosanjh and Kiara Advani. The film's opening day collection was a healthy Rs17.5 crore.

Speaking of the film, Kareena Kapoor Khan said, "Of course. Hindi cinema is bound to have a little exaggeration. This film, we have tried to show it as it would be. Labour pains also differ from person to person. My mother [yesteryear actress Babita], with me, had to go through 24 hours of it." Excerpts from the interview:

It is a great time for you. Angrezi Medium (2020) is done. Laal Singh Chaddha (2020) is being shot. And you are awaiting Good Newwz.

It has been great, but the film is entertaining. It is quite topical also. It is an interesting topic of IVF [in-vitro fertilization] and we have taken it and turned it around to make more of a dramedy. I think people will like it. It is a celebratory, festive time, and people will enjoy it. I am very sure.

Did Good Newwz remind you of your own pregnancy?

Yeah, apart from the fact that I had to wear a pregnancy stomach. There are different phases in the film — three months, six months and then nine months. For that, I had to wear a swimsuit belly prosthetic made in London. We had to wear it under the clothes everyday. It looked so natural. They even made a navel and all. That was a reminder, not like I had forgotten what it was like to be pregnant.

This was like pregnancy without the parathas. That was pregnancy with the parathas! I used to eat like 5–10 parathas a day. Now I just eat one. Although this time, for Laal Singh Chadha, we were shooting in Amritsar and Chandigarh, so I had two. That was excitement.

You are a rare Kapoor who is strict with food.

Not at all. I eat everything. Of course, there is a diet plan which I also follow. Sometimes, like I just told my chef, make 'atta halwa'. It's December, there is Good Newwz (laughs).

Were you worried during your pregnancy?

I am generally a hypochondriac. I enjoyed my pregnancy though. I was asking my doctor a hundred questions till the time he was 'listen, now there is nothing to ask'. Though my sister [former actress Karisma Kapoor] was always with me and was a phone call away.

My doctor would tell me, 'Come and weigh yourself. You are 20 kg overweight'. I was like 'this is the moment'. Though I did try to eat right for six months, but after that it was all downhill.

In Hindi cinema, we have often seen how the portrayal of women in labour is very scary. There are lights going off, people screaming... don't you think they overdramatize and scare women?

Of course! Hindi cinema is bound to have a little exaggeration. This film, we have tried to show it as it would be. Labour pains also differ from person to person. My mother, with me, had to go through 24 hours of it. With women, sometimes, some of them get anxiety. There is a little exaggeration on screen though. Not denying that.

How careful were you all when making a comedy on a subject that can be touchy?

The line is very basic. It is just about the sperms getting exchanged. So, there is comedy, but it turns on its head in the interval. It has to. Then, eventually, [it is about] how the women carry the story.

In comedy, generally, the women are on the side laughing. They are standing on the side and a laugh track is running. This is not that film. The women will turn it around. That moment in the second half is very beautiful and is one of my favourites. There is an entire monologue where she speaks up. That is the reason why I did the film, about what a woman goes through and what her contribution is. I feel people will really remember that scene.

As an actress who has worked at the top of the league with the Khans and other stars, how do you see the rise of female-led films today?

The content and dynamic have changed. I mean, look at Badhaai Ho (2018), it turned the entire thing on its head. Today, it is just about content. That is what I have been saying for a long time. It is about your part in a film. The entire content has to be great.

Aamir [Khan] in 3 Idiots (2009) or Talaash (2012), for that matter. The revelation that the girl was the ghost was the turning point in the film. That is the point of working with a Khan or whatever; you have to make sure that your part is relevant. Even in Forrest Gump (1994), it is a love story, but the girl is what is driving him and the film. In that sense, a conscious decision is you have to make clear what is your stand.

How mindful are you about what your art represents, and will you play something that is not politically correct?

It has nothing to do with being politically correct or representation of art, I did a film like Veere Di Wedding (2018) because whether it is a divorce, a man having an affair or an orgasm, everything is from a male perspective. In Veere Di Wedding, for the first time, it has come from a female's point of view.

When I heard the script, I felt at least this is being addressed, at least we are talking about it. So, I wanted to be a part of that film. That is the reason there will always be controversy. Same with Ki & Ka (2016). No one will say that their husband is at home and cooks. That concept is also about the women driving the family.

There will always be — in terms of Good Newwz, IVF is a topic that people are now aware of — there will always be an underlying message, but it is not a documentary. It is an entertaining film at the end of the day. Now, maybe I am a little conscious. If you go back to my last couple of films, there has been this type of element that has been there.

What type of role would you automatically turn down?

It is not a particular role. The package has to be interesting. Today, it is not about just your role. The entire content, the script, the directors, so many factors go into it. If after Taimur I had to come back, I could very well have said, 'I want a heroine-oriented film. I want the camera to be on me.' That was not the case. I like the entire world made around sisterhood [in Veere Di Wedding].

You seem to have matured from commercial song-and-dance films to doing Good Newwz with Chameli (2004) and Refugee (2000) in the mix as well. How much has your thought process changed?

That's how there is a Laal Singh Chadha and a Takht (2020), which is like the north pole and the south pole. One is a period film, and one is so different. I do make a little effort to pick and choose. Now, I am also bound by a lot of time constraints. I feel like I am living my life on one leg, as I am balancing it out. If I don't set rules and boundaries, I feel like everything will just fall apart.

As much as I would love to do three films which are all different, it's difficult.

You are working with Rohit Shetty and Priyadarshan as well. Do you prefer comedy?

I think so. I think there is an inherent comic timing that will always be there, as I am a funny person. I am quite open, and comedy is easy when you are open. Especially on screen, when you are the way you are. Though I think it is a difficult thing to make people laugh, but having Akshay Kumar and Diljit around helped.

You have spoken about the pay disparity in the film industry a lot. A lot of actresses have spoken about the gap and the awkwardness of negotiating that. In your experience, have you felt that?

The conversation is slightly different now. The producers are also faced with choices, and to involve the heroine and bring them on board. The entire milieu has changed. The atmosphere that was slightly uncomfortable earlier [regarding disparity] is now changing.

Is it sad that actresses have to face off with producers to get into this comfortable space?

This is a societal change. This requires bigger dynamics than just the film fraternity. For that, there has to be a dramatic change. It's just the way people are made and look at things. I am just glad that a small part is being acknowledged, and the conversation is on.

When it comes to OTT platforms, what will be a game-changer for you to force you to step into the space?

I have not thought about that. At home only, someone [referring to her husband Saif Ali Khan and Sacred Games] has broken boundaries and put India on the map with Netflix. It is difficult now because it will be a natural comparison, so he has made it a lot tougher (laughs). Plus, he is doing this amazing show on Amazon, with Ali Abbas Zafar. It has a grand scale. So, I don't know. It has to be outstanding. 

Saif Ali Khan in Netflix's Sacred Games

Aren't you working on a project with Dharmatics?

Yes. They are still writing it. They have not written the entire script, and I am looking forward to reading the entire one. I am also scared to get on to this digital platform because it is so widely received.

While your chemistry with Akshay Kumar has always been well received, you were also present when he started his first film.

Yes, he was shooting with Karisma and it was his first shot. I was there in my school uniform. I was nine years old and the shoot was in a bungalow called Poonawala Bungalow at Madh Island. Deedar (1992) was the film. I was there.

Akshay Kumar and Kareena Kapoor Khan in Good Newwz

What did you think about him then?

I love Akshay. I think he is a true-blue, bona fide superstar. The phase he is in right now, I would say he is in the same phase as Mr Bachchan was once through. He has that kind of success and stardom, but he doesn't let it go to his head. It is an amazing comfort to be around him. 

How was your interactions with Kiara Advani? This is her first attempt at a comedy.

She was wearing that belly and she was doing so well. She is very sweet and down-to-earth. She has done very well in the film, and it is through the film that I have seen her. During the shoots, Kabir Singh (2019) was released, and I have literally seen her grow through the schedule.

Karan Johar recently admitted that he does regret including 'item numbers' in his films. He said that while they were not offensive, he understands how those songs did objectify women and that the practice needs to be changed. As someone who has been part of such songs, what is your opinion on the subject?

I don't think I would do them today, but I can't run away from the fact that I have done 'item' songs. That is also very much a part of my repertoire. Any time we go to a wedding, there are songs like 'Fevicol' and 'Chikni Chameli' being played and requested. We are not dancing to anything else.

I believe we should not be pretentious about it. If I have danced to item songs, yes, what's there to hide? It's not a crime. Maybe we live and learn and not do it again. But I really enjoyed it.

It is a different time today, with women choosing to work after marriage, a far cry from the past. Having returned after childbirth yourself, how do you see this?

Getting married is not a bad thing, or the end of life. People come back to work in other professions. It has always been that way. In this room alone, there are more women than men. We outnumber you (laughs). But it was the same in the past as well. Saif was five, I think, when Sharmilaji [yesteryear star Sharmila Tagore] had some of her big hits. Same with Hemaji [yesteryear star Hema Malini]. Above all, I think it has to do with your personality and what you choose to do with it.

Do you have conversations with Sharmilaji about work?

With Sharmilaji, there is little conversation about work. We talk about other things. She will tell me if she watched a recent film, what films she liked. Books are a big part of this family's conversation. They read a lot. I am the most unread of them all (laughs).

With husband Saif, sisters-in-law Soha and Saba Ali Khan (extreme left), mother-in-law Sharmila Tagore and Soha's husband Kunal Kemmu