Sunday, June 19, 2011

Kareena Kapoor

Everyone who knows even a little bit about my filmi tastes knows I love Kareena Kapoor, so no Kapoor Khazana would be complete for me without a post about her. I'm sure part of my love is due to the fact that there is a critical mass out there of people who hate her (I think it has to do with her public persona, but you know... I don't really care about that stuff), but mostly it's because she's a bloody good actress. I remember Shahid Kapoor once saying about her (and I paraphrase) that she could walk into the set, talking on her cell-phone and with a snack in her other hand, put everything down and within seconds give a perfect shot. Aamir Khan has been known to say more than once that he has trouble focusing when she's around because she's so beautiful. While her cousin Ranbir Kapoor never wastes an opportunity to talk about what a natural actress she is. Heck, even Ranveer Singh, the new kid on the block, has been caught gushing openly on camera about how much of a fanboy he is for her.

So with all these stellar endorsements, one cannot ignore that... there's just something about Kareena! And I debated making this the title of the post, until I realized that the title does not need to be anything more than her name. With my well documented tendency to give really long titles to my posts, I'm sure this says a lot. Kareena Kapoor. Bas.

I haven't seen all of Kareena's films and I'm afraid I never will what with her well-known tendency to go from one-of-a-kind masterpieces to disturbingly bad movies (yes, Kambakkt Ishq, you're the front runner of that pack!), but I wanted to do a quick overview of the many faces of Kareena as I have seen them so far.

Kareena the warrior princess
(hey that rhymes with the Xena the Warrior Princess, except Kareena is good looking too! Ha!)

I've gushed about Asoka in the past, so I won't go over it again, but Asoka is a side of Kareena we don't see very often, so it's definitely worth starting with. There is a scene towards the end of the film where she defies the King Asoka that gives me the chills every time. Such raw hate and such power in just one line, it's moments like this that set an actor or an actress above the rest of the overweeping, overacting majority.

Kareena the College Diva

We've seen a lot of that in Kareena's early years, and certainly she has no trouble in these types of roles mostly because they're not very demanding. Films like Main Prem Ki Diwani Hoon, Mujhse Dosti Karoge, Hulchul, show us a haughty, stylish (well, for those years anyway) Kareena who lacks nothing in the self-confidence department.

The crown jewel of those roles is of course her famous Poo in Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham, and because I plan a more detailed post to explain why she is the best thing about that movie, I will not get into it too much now. Suffice to say that it takes a diva to play a diva and not many other Indian actresses have what it takes for a role that Kareena cruises through with so much class. Love her or hate her for it, but she rocks those roles like no one else would. Granted, for me that's usually not enough to save a bad movie (which most of the above are), but it sure is fun to watch.

Kareena the Sweet Young Lover

No more the college girl, no more the diva, films like Yuva, Milenge Milenge and 36 China Town still do so well in showcasing that innocence and youthful exuberance that defined Kareena's earlier days, even if they're not all good films. There was a freshness and a lovable quality about her in those days which, mind you, also happened to go marvelously with her old plumper self. It's something I miss in her more recent performances but it probably has a lot to do with her maturing as a person, not just as an actress. Not even Kareena can stay young forever, so I enjoy these roles so much from her precisely because I know we'll never see her in another one again. Of course, this faded only to make room to a more refined actress, so who be I to complain too much about that?

Kareena the Vamp 

I've only seen Fida in this category, but would certainly love to see more movies like this from her. Kareena in a negative role where she gets to be sarcastic, perfidious and evil while also looking drop-dead gorgeous? Yes, please!

Kareena the Prostitute

Another solitary role in her repertoire, though probably not for long (rumour has it she's a high class prostitute in Aamir's next flick), Chameli is one of Kareena's best roles, if not her absolute best. It's hard to even think that this is the same person we had seen as the delicate deaf-mute girl in Chup Chup Ke, as she lights up cigarette after cigarette and throws curses around while parading her alluring body in hopes of anyone buying it for the night. Chameli is more reminiscent of a theatre play than a Bollywood production, with everything good and everything bad that comes out of that, but Kareena's act shines with all the sparkle that is rightfully absent from the rest of the film.

Kareena the Tomboy

Sometimes the movies are great (3 Idiots, Tashan) and sometimes they make me wonder why I am still into Bollywood (Golmaal 3), but Kareena the tomboy is one of my all time favourite characters regardless of the film. I like a girl with personality, and when she gets to be badass too, well, she's definitely got my attention! Whether she's slapping the grin off of Aamir Khan's face, or delivering one of the finest drunken scenes in 3 Idiots; or keeping the two boys on a short leash in Tashan; or just being part of the gang in Golmaal 3 (an otherwise NOT recommended watch); she's such a joy to see on screen. It's funny that I think she does the diva to perfection while other times I'll say she was born to play tomboy roles, but I suppose that's the sign of true talent.

Kareena the Tragic Lover

Drama is certainly one of Kareena's strongest subjects, and we usually get treated to longer or shorter displays of this talent in every one of her movies. But Omkara and Refugee are the two that I think really do justice to Kareena's skill in the tragedy genre. Right from her first film, Refugee, she shows no hesitation in emotional scenes where even seasoned actors tend to overact. Her Omkara director, Vishal Bhardwaj, also really knew how to exploit that in the role of Dolly, the tragic Desdemona in the Indian adaptation of Shakespeare's Othello.

A close runner up would be Kurbaan, where she gave a gut-wrenching performance, but sadly so many things about the movie fell flat for me that I simply can't brush past them only because of Kareena.

Kareena the Item Girl 

This has not been one of Kareena's most successful avatars, mostly because she's not a very strong, or very graceful dancer. She usually gets by in songs because of her stellar facial expressions. But there are a couple of songs that she rocks (no pun intended) and here they are.

Have I forgotten anything? Oh no, you there in the back row shouting and waving, don't worry, I haven't forgotten...

Jab We Met!

Just saving the best for last!

The chatty Punjabi girl with dreams of marriage in her eyes and words of comfort on her lips... very few people can resist her! Pair this up with the defeated, joyless Geet of the second half of the movie and you've got yourself the most comprehensive performance in all of Kareena's career. I'm not sure if I would label it as her best acting (what with Chameli and Omkara also in the run for that trophy), but it definitely is the best showcase for her many talents as she gets to portray just about every emotion in the book in a role that (many agree) was simply made for her. And look, even her dancing was great in it!

The problem with Kareena is that she sometimes makes it very very difficult to be a fan, whether it's by shooting her mouth off about the wrong thing, or by choosing films that are beneath her capabilities and status, while giving the boot to projects that some of her fans (myself included) would love to see her in.

But... despite all that... she still remains: the one and only BEBO!!


me said...

Fantastic piece on one of my favourites, thanks! A slight quibble, though - I think you might be underselling her acting in JWM just a touch. Given that it was made very soon after the leads were no longer an offscreen item, I think the onscreen chemistry is a real tribute to both of them, an example of that quote you used from Shahid about Kareena's acting ability.

Dolce and Namak said...

Heya, so true, I never could do justice to JWM and so I don't even try anymore. :( I do think she's fabulous in it, and you're right, I will always undersell her acting in it because I can never find enough words to praise everything about this movie. Trust me, if squeeing and blabbering incoherently would count as a review, I'd be reviewing JWM and Kareena in it every day. :) Instead, as usual, I left it for last and struggled for words for a long time before deciding to just give up. But she definitely rocks it, there's no doubt about it! :)

Bindu said...

loved every bit yu said about kareena!
I really dont no why so many ppl hate her.
btw if you are into tamil movies. Yu shld watch Surya sivakumar's movies. His best movie was Vaaranam Ayiraam. :)

Bollywood said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Remini said...

Well, she's OK. I don't care for a famous personality's offscreen persona, never follow the news and gossip. Kareena just isn't somebody I'd watch a movie for. I think she does really well in roles like Chameli, Omkara and Asoka. I simply don't like her in romantic movies and I found her rather annoying in JWM.. and again MUCH better in the second half of the movie, when she got more serious - I seem to be the only one :P

Dolce and Namak said...

Hey Bindu, welcome to the blog! And yes, I am into Tamil movies, and luckily for me I have seen Vaaranam Aayiram and am already quite fond of Surya (even if I can't seem to make it through Sigham as much as I try :(). Always happy to share a filmi favourite :)

@ The Bollywood Fan: Of course you are more than entitled to biases based on wardrobe, you don't think I ever assumed that little chest plate that gets lost halfway through the battle was for protection, do you? ;) A glorious costume choice that one, if I may say so myself, even if completely ineffective for fighting purposes!

But it always makes me happy to hear stories from people who have nice things to say about her in real life, you always hope your favourites are as cool as you'd like them to be, no? :)

I'll track down Kyon Ki, it wasn't exactly at the top of my list, but since you recommend it, I'll have to try it :)

@Remini: I don't think you're alone in not liking the bubbly Geet, though it is a pretty thin crowd in that corner :P But as we always say, to each their own. She does excel in dramatic roles, I agree, so it's not surprising you liked her in those films. I can see why she's not everyone's cup of sweet milk, hopefully with better and more consistent film choices in the future, she will grow on you too.

yves said...

What a great panorama of Bebo's merits!! I was reminded of the days when I used to do exactly that sort of thing! I wish I had time to start it again! (here:
Thanks a lot for the great pics and text.

Dolce and Namak said...

Hey Yves, just read your post (finally!), very well said on many accounts! And given how much you seem to appreciate her, I am even more pleased that you stopped by to comment on my post! Thank you! :)

Swati Sapna said...

Ok... I do not like Kareena Kapoor. Never have. The only film I have liked her in is of course JWM. But hey, I know of many people who totally adore her, so not judging you. Esp since you dont judge my love for SRK and DDLJ :P
But her Acting Instructor Kishore Namit Kapoor once said something that I completely agree with. He said Kareena is his one failure. Because in every role of hers, he sees Kareena Kapoor and not the character she is playing...
Well he also considers Vivek Oberoi his best student (other than Hrithik), so its up to you :D i guess it depends on how good an actor you think Vivek Oberoi is! I quite like him ;)

yves said...

@ Swati: yes, but well, indeed, if someone asked me whether I was ready to judge KK against the acting capabilities of (say) Meryl Streep, there wouldn't be much Bollywood love left! I think we love Indian actresses for what they represent too, not only for their acting abailities!

Dolce and Namak said...

Hi hi hi! Swati, but the exact same thing can be said about a certain King of Bollywood too :)
I don't dislike Vivek but I also did not love him in anything other than Omkara. But back to your point, I think Kareena does a lot of these glam roles where she is actually REQUIRED to be the brand Kareena K, and yes, those are not the best examples of her acting skills. But it's when she does take on a serious role and keeps you glued to the TV no matter how bad the movie is overall (Kurbaan being the perfect example here), that's when you really see her talent. It's too bad she still takes these high paid glam queen roles on, but that's her, we can't change what motivates her, and money happens to be a big USP for her...

Yves, your reply made me smile :) I can't disagree, but I also think you can't compare acting styles from BW to HW to begin with, it's a completely different world, it would not be fair to either. Most HW actors can't emote to save their lives, while most BW actors can't tone down the hystrionics. So you know... Meryl Streep may be a queen in Hollywood, but would she make it past the auditions door in BW? Hard to say... (No disrespect to Meryl, of course.)

kareenagosip said...

nice pics

Kareena Kapoor

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