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May 9, 2001

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KAREENA

Nidhi Taparia

Her first film was not a super-duper trooper at the BO. Kareena Kapoor in Refugee? She was harder to ignore than your own nose.

Abhishek Bachchan and Kareena Kapoor If you really stop to consider, she has a case against her: She isn't classically beautiful, not even 'heroine material' as is deemed by the Hindi film industry. An ethereal, soft, dreamy beauty, Bebo (as she is fondly called) certainly is not.

But the girl has that indefinable something. In film parlance, it's called screen presence. This Virgo exudes an earthy charm typical of her zodiac sign. Add spontaneity to that and you're looking at a winner.

Which is what you can't help but think of her pairing with her costar Abhishek. You only need see the two together to know that they share a easy rapport, what with having acted in their first film together and now in Sooraj Barjatya's Main Prem Ki Diwani Hoon. (Not to mention rumours of Kareena having played Cupid between Abhishek and elder sister Karisma.)

How does it feel to work with someone familiar? Kareena says, "I think it is great to work with friends. And once you act with Abhishek, it's very difficult working with other people!"

Abhishek, for his part, admits to Kareena being on his list of favourite contemporary actresses. In his scheme of things, she comes in after Kajol and Madhuri Dixit. He states, unequivocally, "Bebo is a great actress. In front of the camera, she is something else."

Kareena Kapoor The Bachchan association extends to Amitabh, too. Kareena reminisces, "There was this fight sequence between my father (Randhir Kapoor) and Amit Uncle once -- I think it was in Pukar.

"I was standing right behind the camera watching the scene, when Amit Uncle started bashing my dad.

"In mid-shot, I rushed up to him, clutched at his leg, and cried, 'How can you beat my father?' I was so angry that I fell to the ground. And Amit Uncle picked me up, washed my hands and cleaned my face. I was so thrilled thenů"

Steer the conversation towards second generation actresses and the general feeling that they do not get enough scope to essay roles, and she disagrees: "I don't think the second-generation actresses are playing two-bit roles. We do get interesting ones. Definitely. And we take them up.

"As far as actresses then and now are concerned, we are definitely more aware of life around us!"

Kareena has an enviable clutch of films on hand: Mujhe Kucch Kehna Hai, Ajnabi, Main Prem Ki Diwani Hoon, Kabhi Khushi Kareena Kapoor Kabhie Gham, Yaadein and Asoka The Great.

Does she feel pressurised about the film's success? Not necessarily, she says. "Actors and actresses no longer carry the burden of a film on their shoulders. If it's a bad film, the director gets blamed.

"I think today's actors and actresses still get away with it if they have performed well within the scope of the role."

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