- Vikram Chandiramani
By the time Kareena Kapoor made her debut, she was already known. Partly because of being a better looking and more `I, me, myself, my dog, my grand father, Kapoor khandaan` and partly because she was better looking than her elder sister who went for cosmetic surgery to correct her nose and chin etc to eliminate her manly features.
Kareena’s debut was controversial.
She was initially signed by Rakesh Roshan to make her debut opposite Kaho Na Pyar Hai but when an opportunity arrived to make her debut as the leading lady of a more high profile Abhishek Bachchan – partly influenced by her mother and seeing the scale tilted in favour of Abhi – Kareena walked out of KNPH. Refugee with Abhishek, to be directed by J P Dutta seemed a better project than KNPH.
After all Rakesh Roshan was much less successful than Amitabh Bachchan!
Kareena’s calculations went wrong. Her loss became Amisha Patel’s gain as KNPH turned out to be a mega hit, and her own debut in Refugee was a dismal failure. She costarred with Jeetendra’s son Tusshar Kapoor in Mujhe Kucch Kehna Hai with equally bad result. Tusshar turned out to be much more wooden than his father. All the talk of the two youngsters recreating the magic of their parents (Jeetendra and Babita had hits like Farz to their credit) fizzled out as people saw the rushes and then the box office result. Even a big film like Subhash Ghai’s Yaadein failed. So did Jeena Sirf Merre Liye, Mujhse Dosti Karoge and Talaash: The Hunt Begins. There were hopes that Rajshri Films’ Main Prem Ki Deewani Hoon may do wonders but it didn’t happen. Boney Kapoor’s Khushi was as disappointing at the box office.
Film after film Kareena failed but she went on saying things like ` the films may have failed but people have praised my performance`. In absence of discerning media, she got away with a line of flops till Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Ghum happened.
Despite being one of the many (the others being Amitabh Bachchan, Shahrukh Khan, Hrithik Roshan, Kajol, Rani Mukherjee and Jaya Bachchan) in the cast she managed to get mileage. Because of her self-assurance, smart image projection Kajol has often figured in important projects but has failed to leave a mark. She wasin Shah Rukh Khan’s Asoka where she had all the scope but the net result was her presence as a decorative piece. Ajnabi with Bobby Deol along with the lead pair of Akshay Kumar and Bipasha (who made her debut) too showed that even a rank outsider could steal the show over Kareena. Dusky and earthy Bipasha easily overshadowed a plastic Kareena. Kareena is believed to have realized it during the making of the film and made life difficult for Bipasha, making her cry on the set.
Chameli was another opportunity to prove her potential that went wrong. So did 36 China Town from the makers of her earlier Ajnabi.
Subash Ghai's Aitraaz, though, was loved but again Priyanka stole the show in a negative role of seducing Akshay and then accusing him of raping her. Bewaffa with Anil Kapoor, a remake of Gumrah that gave a new lease of life to Mala Sinha, too didn’t get any major credit to Kareena Kapoor.
Her stature has been further lowered is her pairing and affair with Shahid Kapoor. Shahid and Kareena together may be a less expensive star pair that comes as a package deal but the audience has been lukewarm even to their last together film 36 China Town. Chupke Chupke was another flop added to her list.
Nevertheless, adding Kareena to a project and that costs a bomb is considered an asset. Kareena remains among the A grade mainly because she belongs to Kapoor family and moves in he right circles. She figured in Ajay Devgan’s Omkara recently and did an item number in Shahrukh Khan’s Don. She took a brief sabbatical after that which ended with yet another item number in Tushar Kapoor starrer 'Kya Love Story Hai'. Currently she is part of Yash Raj films' production 'Tashan'. She's also working in 'The Train' with boyfriend Shahid Kapur and 'Lajjo' with Aamir Khan, directed by Mani Ratnam. 'Lajjo' is based on a short story by the same name, by Ismat Chugtai.