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|September 28, 1999||
'I like taking risks'
When Karisma Kapoor made her debut in Prem Quaidi, despite the film being a hit, she wasn't considered to be very promising. Many found her looks too boyish, some even called her a female Randhir Kapoor!
But she soon proved her detractors wrong, with her determination and hard work. Not only did she go for a new look, Karisma also matured as an actress. She is one of the few actresses in Bollywood who has consistently given hits over the years.
This year, with the success of Biwi No1 and Haseena Maan Jayegi behind her, the Kapoor girl has been signed on by Shyam Benegal.
She is naturally excited with this opportunity to work with the internationally-acclaimed director. She settles down for a chat on the sets of Kundan Shah's Hum To Mohabbat Karega.
We begin with Zubeida, the Benegal film, where Karisma is playing the title role. "It is the ultimate honour any actress can get, especially one from commercial cinema. It's a great compliment. He has chosen me out of the entire lot. For me this is the highest acknowledgement for my calibre, at this young age! I would like to put my life into this role,'' she gushes.
Zubeida is the true story of a princess -- from her teenaged days, her love life, her experiences after marriage till her death. According to Karisma, a lot of research has been made to make a perfect film, "People who thought that I can only do glamorous roles are proved wrong. This role should give the right blend of various moods to my work," she adds.
The 'work' has, so far, mainly consisted of David Dhawan comedies, we remind her. "I enjoy doing his films where you can freak out with the character you are playing. People go to watch his films leaving their minds and worries at home! They have a whale of a time and that makes me feel good too,'' she defends.
But there is hardly anything to like about Biwi No1 and Haseena Maan Jayegi. "In spite of it being a lighthearted comedy, the kind of appreciation I have received for Biwi No1 is amazing. It has beaten the fanmail I received after Raja Hindustani," says Karisma, adding that many women could relate to her character of a woman who fights for her rights and makes her husband realise his mistake! "The character gives them hope."
No comment! So what satisfies her about Haseena Maan Jayegi? "I play a teenie-bopper and people liked my role. Especially, the 'mobile number' song. It drew maximum whistles and people went to the cinema halls again and again to watch this number. It is a wacky dance on a wackier number, and the audience finds it refreshing."
But doesn't she feel the need to be choosy now that she can afford to be so? "I know many heroines make tall claims about doing this and not doing that, after being successful. I find this kind of attitude immature. Since the box office result is very important, every commercial artiste has to do things that are required to be part of the set-up. Identification with the masses is absolutely necessary for an artiste to survive,'' she reasons.
Though we have seen Karisma in a slightly deglamourised role -- with glasses, pigtails and salwar kameezes -- in Silsila Pyar Ka, one cannot exactly call that film off-beat. So, what was the reason behind accepting the film?
"I think one should do all kinds of roles. That is the reason when they come my way I accept. Besides the Barbie kind of roles, I like to do serious ones as well," explaining why chose to act in Silsila Pyar Ka. But the film failed miserably at the box office. "We win some and lose some. The story that was narrated to me was completely different from what it actually turned out to be. But there's no point going on and on about it, you either make a mark or you do not. Either way one should accept it," she adds.
Anyway, does she consider herself 'heroine no1' after two hits in one month? Replies Karisma, "When Raja Hindustani, Dil To Pagal Hai and Hero No 1 were released, Kajol had no decent releases, and so I was called no 1. Later, Kajol had four releases and her films did well while I had no good releases. Now again, the title of no 1 has come to me! For me, the number game does not exist. What's important is being appreciated, doing a good job and enjoying what you are doing. Taking success as well as failure in the right spirit."
She seems to have no qualms working with new or not-so-successful heroes. "I am willing to take risks," says Karisma. "They are part of this profession. In fact, I like taking risks. I am doing T Rama Rao's film with Venkatesh who was my co-star in Anari. He is quite a rage in the South. The fact remains that everyone is a newcomer at some time.''
Karisma claims she does not look for any particular criterion before accepting a film. "I do not look for anything. I'd be lying if I told you the long list of conditions. If a role excites me, I accept it. Otherwise, I say no even if it's a meaty role," she explains.
Which brings us to Hum Saath Saath Hai, the Sooraj Barjatya-directed multi-starrer. Does she have a lot of scope in it? "Not really, but then it also depends on the kind of movie that is being made. In Dil To Pagal Hai and Biwi No1, a lot could be achieved despite the short length of the roles and the presence of other heroines. It depends on the character you are playing. In Hum Saath... all the roles are etched out clearly, which does not happen too often,'' she states.
< Talking about the roles, one cannot help wondering about Sunil Darshan's Jaanwar where she has reportedly done a bathing scene under the waterfall, in typical R K style. She, however, denies this. "People are getting this impression because of the movie stills. But there is no nudity involved. In fact, it is a prayer scene and I am playing a simple basti (slum) girl. It is certainly no Satyam Shivam Sundaram. It is an unusual role, something that I have not done before.''
Lastly, we ask her about the straight hairstyle she sported for Raja Hindustani. Was she inspired by her mother's old movies? "Well, not quite so. We just wanted to bring the straight look to break the monotony in appearance. It worked well and today it has become a trend,'' she concludes.
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