If Kate and William gave fans their ultimate fairytale, then Bollywood wasn’t too far behind either. She is bold, beautiful and quick-witted, and he is quite the Prince Charming (literally) – Kareena Kapoor and Saif Ali Khan are one of B-town’s favourite couple; theirs is a whirlwind of romance that emerged straight off the sets of fantasy land. In times when an iPhone’s battery could perhaps last longer than a celebrity relationship, the couple – each of them a star in their own right – has stood the test of time and a fair share of controversies for over eight years now.
Interestingly enough though, while both Kareena and Saif have big hits to their name, their onscreen stints together have never fared well at the box office. But then, who needs box office numbers when it would take nothing short of a natural disaster to throw them off the A-list. Co-starring may not have been fruitful, but both Saif and Kareena have their diaries filled with film projects and endorsements while still shining bright as Bollywood’s star couple. Instep interviews the nawab and his fearless bride on upcoming projects, marriage and the varying interests that are a prominent part of their lives – from fashion to cricket – and ofcourse, what keeps them looking so youthful despite a frenetic filmi lifestyle.
How big a role has marriage played in your choice of films in recent years?
I’ve made a conscious choice to take on less but as far as letting marriage decide what project I choose, well I have to say that it hasn’t really been an influencer as such. The projects that I did turn down were only because I felt the script wasn’t strong enough or the storyline was clichéd. My focus is now on powerful scripts and plots, and if a movie doesn’t fall into that category, then that is a deal breaker for me.
Can you tell us a bit about your roles in the upcoming films Udta Punjab and Bajrangi Bhaijaan?
In Bajrangi Bhaijaan, I play the role of Rasika, a Hindu girl who falls in love with a Muslim boy. Salman Khan has produced the movie and is also playing Bajrangi in it. The movie has been partly shot in Kashmir and is scheduled for release this year. Udta Punjab is about substance abuse and the drug mafia. It also stars Alia Bhatt, Shahid Kapoor and Dilijit Dosanjh. I’m playing a Punjabi girl in the movie and I’m quite excited about this role – it’s been a while since I played a typical Punjabi girl.
Do you feel Bollywood still has a long way to go before it can get over gender stereotyping?
Things are already changing in the industry. Look at last year’s surprise hit Queen, for example. It was a completely female-centric movie and audiences loved it. So I think we’re well on our way to overcoming those barriers.
You are a popular face in Pakistan because of your movies as well as regular lawn campaigns with Faraz Manan. Can you share your experience with the designer and tell us what you think of the lawn itself?
One of the reasons I agreed to do Faraz Manan’s campaign is because I loved his designs. The prints are bold and vibrant, and can be a sight for sore eyes in the scorching summer months. It was absolutely great working with the team because they would sit down and discuss the shoot with me. They would explain the creative process behind it and were very open to my suggestions. The team was thoroughly professional and worked very hard to make the whole thing possible.
You’ve endorsed brands in Pakistan as well. How do you decide your endorsements?
It all depends on the product. If it’s a product I believe in, if it delivers on the promises it makes to the consumers, then I take up the endorsement. That is also the reason I chose to endorse Head & Shoulders. It truly helps me have a healthier scalp and beautiful hair.
You recently walked down the runway at LFW and were quite the crowd pleaser. What does fashion mean to you and how important it is in a star’s life?
As celebrities, we are constantly in the public eye. Every move we make is scrutinized and up for debate so I think it’s important to be ‘current’ and updated on the latest trends. Having said that, celebrities should also endeavour to develop a personal style – one that is unique and reflects their individuality. It doesn’t matter if it’s quirky; sometimes pushing the envelope can be a good thing too.
Saif Ali Khan
You have a number of films in the pipeline, like the soon-to-be-released political thriller Phantom, directed by Kabir Khan. What can you tell us about your character Daniyal? Was it a challenge to play the role and what was it like to work with Katrina Kaif again?
Daniyal is the protagonist of the movie so his path is a difficult one. His quest for justice takes him across different continents but as you will see in the movie, there is a price attached to it – a very personal one in Daniyal’s case. Playing a character like that is always a challenge because you have to depict personality quirks without taking away from the story.
The challenge for me was to be true to Daniyal’s quest and what that meant for him as a person. I’ve learnt a bit of Kurdish for this movie so yes, it’s been a difficult albeit exciting role to play. It’s always fun working with Katrina because she is easy-going and committed to her work.Along with this, I also have movies with Sujoy Ghosh, Vikram Aditya Motwane and Vishal Bharadwaj in the pipeline.
You’ve been in the film production business for six years now. Have you ever thought of turning to film direction?
Directing is hard work and requires months of planning before the film actually begins. I don’t think I’m cut out to be a director because it requires tremendous patience. But you never know, maybe one day…
Cricket is in your blood and your interviews reveal an astute understanding of the sport. We wonder why you didn’t opt to own an IPL team.
I was tempted to at first but it’s just too expensive. Honestly, it takes a long time to make something like that work so why not just focus on being an actor and producer?
You’ve said you look better in your 40s than ever before, and we agree! What’s the secret behind your youthfulness?
I have now decided to take better care of myself by making smart food choices and incorporating exercise in my daily routine. I guess when you look after yourself, it really does show. As for my skin, I think the increase in water intake has really worked wonders. Apart from that, just keep your face dirt and oil-free!
How do you like to take care of your hair?
Head & Shoulders, of course! I don’t have to put in any extra effort because Head & Shoulders does it all for me. It prevents hairfall and dandruff so my hair stays healthy. Given that I have such a tight schedule, I don’t get time to really look after my hair but thanks to Head & Shoulders, I don’t have to worry about that either.