What makes Ka­reena Kapoor Khan an icon.

As she jug­gles movies and mother­hood, Ka­reena Kapoor Khan still has the power to have au­di­ences eat­ing out of her hands

Masala! - - CONTENTS -

Ev­ery Kapoor is a draw. So is a Khan. It makes sense then that Ka­reena Kapoor Khan, who com­bines the best of two of the big­gest Bol­ly­wood sur­names, is a ma­jor draw. M-A-J-O-R. One was in­clined to ap­ply the phrase, ‘they don’t make ‘em like her any­more’ but that would be pre­sump­tu­ous and tech­ni­cally wrong. For, Brand Ka­reena – sim­ply Bebo to fans – is far from over. She is an orig­i­nal and will al­ways be. In an in­dus­try that thrives on stereo­typ­ing and play­ing it ‘Saif’, Ka­reena has bucked ev­ery trend. She makes heads turn sim­ply by be­ing her­self. One of In­dian pop cul­ture’s most recog­nis­able icons com­mands a huge fol­low­ing across the globe and her ca­reer tra­jec­tory proves that she was born to be a star. Which Kapoor/khan isn’t? And guess what? She is not even on so­cial me­dia!

Ac­tress, star-wife, mother, style icon, you name it and she fits ev­ery bill ac­corded to a Bol­ly­wood ac­tress. If you ever wanted ev­i­dence of what Ka­reena Kapoor means to Asians, you just had to be there at the re­cent Masala! Awards at Fort Is­land, Mad­i­nat Jumeirah, Dubai. Dressed in Faraz Manan cou­ture, there she was, a vi­sion of flaw­less beauty with ever­green writ all over her – the ul­ti­mate show­stop­per and a more-thanper­fect muse for a fash­ion show by the famed Pak­istani de­signer and close friend. Collective sighs were recorded when the lights dimmed and she glided on to the stage, in a pale pink en­sem­ble, hair open, the pout in place. And when she posed on the ramp, stand­ing tall and ex­ud­ing con­fi­dence in a way only Ka­reena can, the flash­bulbs couldn’t stop pop­ping. The cam­eras love her and she loves them right back. Dubai’s elite guests that com­prised the au­di­ence were all re­duced to be­ing fan­girls and fan­boys of the de­fin­i­tive hero­ine!

In­deed, Ka­reena is the com­plete ac­tress – the style, the ada, the grace and dances that few can match. Hindi cin­ema ac­cepts great ac­tresses whose per­for­mances can move you to tears. But to be the ob­ject of fan­tasies of a mil­lion, an ac­tress has to be an all­rounder, in terms of looks, dance and ap­peal. Hema

Malini had it, so did Sridevi, Aish­warya Rai and Mad­huri Dixit. Af­ter which, only Ka­reena Kapoor has it. She can be ex­u­ber­antly over-the-top (for in­stance, Jab We Met in which she fa­mously de­clared, “I am my favourite”) and she can be sub­tly un­der­stated (Udta Pun­jab, 3 Id­iots). She can nail ev­ery look, the de­mure or the dar­ing, the fire­brand or the friendly, and she can rock her thumkas and jhatkas at the same time. She is as up for a

sexy ‘item num­ber’ as she is for a deglam role. Not for her method act­ing or text­book per­for­mances. She is what she is, on and off screen. And that’s what en­dears her to fans. Her con­fi­dence (some naysay­ers tsk tsk it as ‘ar­ro­gance’) can be in­fec­tious. “Beauty is con­fi­dence,” she once re­marked. True. Just that in her case, her con­fi­dence is also a form of beauty.


Ka­reena’s ro­mance with the arc lights be­gan nearly two decades ago (Refugee re­leased in 2000!) and prob­a­bly reaches back to her birth. Af­ter all, when

Ran­bir Kapoor was born, one dis­trib­u­tor called Raj Kapoor wel­com­ing the birth of a fu­ture Bol­ly­wood hero! The same pre­dic­tion wouldn’t have come true for Ka­reena. The Kapoor girls don’t gen­er­ally be­come ac­tresses. But Ka­reena and sis­ter Karisma broke that rule. Karisma has long re­tired.

But in an in­dus­try with short at­ten­tion spans and shorter shelf lives for its lead­ing ladies, Ka­reena burns bright. Her con­tem­po­raries – male and fe­male – have had mixed re­sults in their ca­reer. Ab­hishek Bachchan, her first co-star and born to Bol­ly­wood’s first fam­ily, has not found his firm foot­ing yet and con­tin­ues to flit in and out of films. The Amee­sha Pa­tels, Bi­pasha Ba­sus and Pre­ity Zin­tas have more or less bowed away from the scene. Yet, Ka­reena is there, pow­er­ing on, de­spite not hav­ing done a plethora of movies re­cently, to give tough com­pe­ti­tion to the Pr-schooled, ul­tra-so­cial me­dia savvy stars like Priyanka Cho­pra, Deepika Padukone and Alia Bhatt. What ex­plains her ever-last­ing ap­peal?

Per­haps, it’s the com­bi­na­tion of style, the devil-may-care at­ti­tude, the sex ap­peal and con­nect with au­di­ences from 6 to 60 that makes her so rel­e­vant. Right from the be­gin­ning, she was an in­ter­viewer’s de­light, never pre­tend­ing to be po­lit­i­cally cor­rect or safe. She was dis­missed as brash but never bor­ing. Her off-screen per­sona was strong and in her, girls found a role model, who could be un­apolo­get­i­cally her­self. Even when she em­braced mar­riage to Saif Ali Khan and mother­hood, she did it openly, sans any pre­tence. With the birth of son Taimur, the lime­light has shifted to the in­fant Nawab a bit but Bebo con­tin­ues to be not just her own favourite but also the me­dia’s. Ka­reena re­turned to the sil­ver screen ear­lier this year with Veere Di Wed­ding, where she played a re­luc­tant bride and it seemed as if she had never gone any­where. Her brief preg­nancy break never re­ally took her away from her fans. Be it mar­riage to Saif

Ali Khan or her preg­nancy, Ka­reena played ev­ery role with stylish non­cha­lance. Need­less to say, she has shone in her real-life role of a mother with lit­tle Taimur al­ready be­ing a su­per­star in his own right.


Crit­ics might carp that she doesn’t have the bou­quet of var­ied films that some of her peers can boast of. But a close look at her fil­mog­ra­phy shows some rather bold choices. Right from a rus­tic young woman of Refugee to com­mu­nal riot hit Aaliya in Dev, fiery tribal woman in Asoka, re­silient lawyer in Ai­traaz, the In­dian Des­de­mona in Omkaara, pros­ti­tute-with-aheart in Chameli and Talaash, the chat­ter­box Geet in Jab We Met or the more re­cent, avowed fem­i­nist in Ki & Ka and com­pas­sion­ate doc­tor in Udta Pun­jab, Ka­reena has dis­played a wide di­ver­sity. But it’s her fash­ion­ista and chic at­ti­tude that over­rides ev­ery­thing else. Per­haps her most iconic role con­tin­ues to be that of the fash­ion-crazy Poo from Kab­hie Khushi Kabhi Ghum. Di­rec­tor Karan Jo­har is on record that he cast her sim­ply be­cause the Ka­reena he had so closely known was ex­actly like Poo! But Ka­reena is much more than a Poo. Or a Geet.

It’s to her credit that she hasn’t al­lowed pop­u­lar per­cep­tions to come in the way of what she wants to do and what she has be­come. Ka­reena Kapoor lives life queen size, on her own terms. Ex­actly what makes her a true Asian Icon (the ti­tle Masala! gave her at the awards). With her lofty beauty and abun­dant nat­u­ral tal­ent, Bebo has charmed her way into our hearts in a way few Bol­ly­wood hero­ines have. That’s say­ing a lot in an age where ‘trends’ change ev­ery few weeks. But well, some folks have all the sass, don’t they?


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