Karisma talks about her comeback 'Dangerous Ishhq' and what her director learnt about his past life
Bollywood's original 'heroine number one' Karisma Kapoor took a break from acting at the peak of her career. She embraced household life following her marriage Delhi industrialist Sanjay Kapur. While the film industry felt her void, it was swiftly filled by those actresses who had been waiting in the wing shadowed by the might Lolo, as she is fondly nicknamed as. Today as she makes her comeback in the ambitious supernatural thriller 'Dangerous Ishhq' in 3D no less, she is as excited as she was when she made her debut in 'Prem Qaidi' over two decades ago. In a suburban hotel in Mumbai, she met up with Kunal Guha to chat about why she's back and what keeps her going. She also reveals some secrets behind her eternal beauty and newly acquired body.
Have you missed Bollywood as much as the industry has missed you? Has the industry changed much from where you left it?
I've been in touch with films because of Kareena but definitely everything is much more streamlined, organized and systematic so that is a great help to actors.
And have you evolved during this sabbatical?
Yes. I think every experience that you go through in life helps you become a better actor. Good, bad, whatever. So, I think most definitely I have changed a lot. I think I've become much more sensitive. I was sensitive in any case but most motherhood, I've become even more sensitive.
So you'd recommend time away to other actors?
I would absolutely recommend it because I really enjoyed my time away and I had no problems in doing that. May be that's the kind of person I am, I am not sure. (Pauses to collect her thoughts) I think it just rejuvenates you even as an actor.
Ever since you went on your break from acting, a new breed of actresses have found their ground in the industry (including your sister Kareena), what do you think are their strengths?
I can't particularly comment on anyone in person but I think it's the circle of life. For me, it's very personal achievement that Kareena is right there at the top, like I left that position and now Kareena has filled into my shoes. I feel very happy and proud for her. I think that all the young actresses who've reached that position have put in a lot of hard work to reach there so they're just getting their due. Kareena's strength, if I have to list them, would be that she is an absolutely fantastic actress. She can be a commercial actress, like for example, she can do a 'Chammak Challo' and become the craze of the nation and at the same time she can do a film like 'Heroine' or 'Chameli' and she's someone who can really put it together and that's why she is in the position that she is in.
How does one evaluate a role when making a comeback?
I can only talk about myself since I don't know what everybody's priorities are. I particularly wanted to do something different than I have done before. This is because I believed that the audience would want to see me also doing something very different. I didn't want to come back after so long and do something that the audience has seen me doing before and 'Dangerous Isshq' really offered me that.
But if certain roles have worked for you in the past, why risk doing something different?
Not really. I'll tell you why. See for me, as an actor, I have done commercial films and I've done films like 'Zubeidaa', 'Shakti', 'Fiza' and then I've done a 'Hero No. 1'. I've done it all and have worked in all genres. Touch wood, I have been lucky that all of them have been successful. But I think that the audience would like to see me, obviously, in a powerful role, in an acting-based histrionics movie but in a glamorous way. The way I am. So, I think this film offers all the above.
What was going through your mind when you reached a film set after this long break?
Oh my god, I was like what am I doing here! (laughs). But yes, it was a nervous excitement to be back on the sets. Then our film is the first heroine-centric 3D movie ever to be made in India. 'Haunted' was the first 3D movie to be properly made in 3D and 'Dangerous Ishhq' is the second one. So in that sense, it is special. I enjoyed it and it was a different experience. See, it's a supernatural thriller, so the 3D element is not about things popping out at you. It's not an action movie or a horror movie. The 3D will enhance your experience of going through the thrill element in the movie and it's been used very aesthetically.
Despite having essayed almost every kind of role possible, were there any challenges in getting into the skin of your character in this film?
Oh my god, there were a lot of challenges! The role is in a certain way spectacular- (that's a word I can use) for any actor. I am playing a girl from 2012, a strong woman fighting for what she believes in. Then she's a glamorous woman of today and then she's willing to go through something she doesn't believe in which is past life regression to solve the mystery, which is unusual. I go through my past lives so you see me in different avatars and different ways. Be it the body language, the dialects, the dialogues that were spoken, the hair, the makeup, the costumes, the locations etc. There's so much that's gone into this film. I mean a lot of hard work and energy and homework has gone into this film.
Was there a brief for your character and how did you translate it?
You can't even get a brief for a role like this. Since it's so in-depth, there can't be a brief like- prepare and come. Here, I was playing a Punjabi girl from Lahore so the Punjabi would be totally different from say, the Punjabi that was spoken in Amritsar and that too from 1947. So we had to go into details like how she speaks, her tone and how people spoke in Lahore, Punjab at that time. A lot of in-depth study had gone into all this. Then I play a 'daasi' in one life so I had to prepare a lot for that too.
So did you go through recordings or meet people who spoke the dialect your character was required to speak?
Actually, our dialogue writer is an expert in speaking like that. So he would speak with me for hours to get the dialect right (laughs).
Since the film is based on your three previous births, do you personally believe in past life?
I can't tell you how many previous lives are explored in the film (laughs). But I think I do believe in it. Vikram wrote this film based on his own experience. Like he's asthmatic and claustrophobic. So someone recommended it to him and he did it and he came to know about why he feels like this in his present birth. He was like a Chinese boy who prematurely died since he was suffocated and that reflects in his present birth. So it's amazing and unbelievable what all it can reveal and how it can help you in your life. Even my makeup artist has gone through it, so I know a lot of people who've done it to believe in it.
Since it's safe to call your film a supernatural thriller, what are the elements that are needed to make a successful one? Do you have a favourite in the genre?
It's a supernatural thriller. Obviously, it has to have a thrill element which our film has. And being an Indian movie and Vikram's movie, it has to have great music and that adds an added element to the movie and the love story angle. So there's a lot going for the film and there's a lot the audience of each generation would identify with. 'Dangerous Ishhq' would be a favourite, after you watch it. (laughs). I'll say 'Inception', if you need a name.
Women-centric films in Bollywood have always been typecast. But these stereotype have disappeared in recent times. Why do you feel so?
It's has evolved a lot in recent times. But even several years back, a film like 'Biwi No: 1' was a heroine- centric movie which was a proper commercial movie and it did really well. I think it also has to do with the multiplex audience. It was much more difficult to prove our point before. Today there are different age groups of people going to the multiplexes and different theatres. It used to be single screens earlier and the concept of films was also different then. There's an audience for every movie now.
Lastly, you've gone through a dramatic transformation to look the way you do in this film. So, could you offer our readers some tips on 'how to get the Karisma Kapoor body'?
Oh my god! What dramatic change have I done? I've not changed my look. I've always looked just like this. And honestly, I don't think it's about losing weight. If you've seen my previous films, you will see that I've always been a fit person. I have always been a celebrity or an actor (whatever you want to call me), who endorses fitness, a healthy lifestyle and good eating habits. Even with the kind of commercials I feature in, like Kellogg's or California Almonds, it has that element to it. That is me. I haven't gone through any drastic weight-loss program. And I want to tell all the young women, young girls and young moms out there that you shouldn't feel the pressure and you should lose weight in the healthy way and the right way and my tip would be: eat small but frequent meals. Young girls think that they should drink nimbu pani and eat some leaves and they will lose weight. That is absolutely wrong and that is not what I've done. I eat healthy but I eat correctly. So if you eat correctly, you will lose weight. I am a firm believer in that because I don't want young women to get the wrong impression and opt for fad diets.
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