January 18, 2001,
Batra: Back to Bollywood
Aisa bhi hota hai !
Karisma on a high
Batra: Back to Bollywood
WHEN Pooja Batra made the switchover from ramp to silver screen three years ago, all of Bollywood rejoiced. At last there was a Hindi heroine who not only had the figure and sophistication of a western woman, but could also combine the sensibilities with the look of an Indian.
Virasat was a mediocre hit. Pooja was noticed, but before she could consolidate her position, she disappeared from the scene. Rumours had it that she had left Mumbai for good and settled down in matrimony, until some people spotted her in a Malayalam film. Clearly, she was still in circulation.
Pooja now returns to Mumbai with Kahi Pyar Na Ho Jaye, a breezy romantic caper with Salman Khan and Rani Mukherji as her co-stars. And while insisting that she is here to stay, she dismisses all talk of this being the beginning of a second innings.
"Kahin Pyar Na Ho Jaye is not a comeback film," she protests. "I did not go anywhere to be making a comeback now. I signed some films like Rahul Rawail’s Khatta Meetha and Dev Anand’s Censor. Some films like Haseena Maan Jayegi and Bhai were released. So it wasn’t as if I give up on Hindi films."
"As for Malayalam films, I got some good offers," she informs. "The roles appeared a lot more challenging with Mohan lal and Jayan as my co-stars. That actually has been the turning point in my career. I could learn a lot about the nuances of acting while working with them."
She points out that South Indian films offer more scope for a heroine than Hindi films. Her stint in the south has therefore been a "learning experience" which makes her better equipped to "handle the challenges of Hindi cinema."
"There are quite a few differences in the working of both industries," she explains. "Malayalam films are more realistic in story and theme, whereas Hindi films are always larger than life. They also wrap up films in no time, while Hindi films take more than a year to complete."
The only problem, however, was the language and regardless of her performance, she had to settle for getting her voice dubbed. "After a time, I started wondering what more could a Punjabi girl be doing in South Indian films," she narrates.
luckily for her, she had a few good offers waiting for her — Kahin Pyar Na Ho Jaye, Kash-m-Kash, Nayak, Khajuraho, Jodi No 1, Yahoo... films which offered not only variety, but also scope to showcase her talent. This was not the situation when she made her debut with Virasat in 1997.
"When I started out, I had nothing but my self-confidence and professionalism going for me," she reveals. "I had no formal training in acting, no godfather, nobody to guide me in choosing the right kind of film. So I was bound to make a few mistakes now and then. But I am not complaining..."
So what really works, to be a success?
"An equal dose of glamour, talent and luck," she replies. "In Hindi films looks are as important as talent. Destiny is one aspect you can never rewrite. So that’s crucial, too. Timing is also an important factor. If I hadn’t decided to do Virasat as a model, I may never have discovered my talent as an actress."
What remains unsaid is the timing of her return to Hindi films. But prod her a bit and she would readily confess that the emergence of "taller actors" like Abhishek Bachchan and Hrithik Roshan has been to her advantage.
"I hope to get work with them some day," she laughs. "Initially I felt my height would prove to be a hindrance as most of our heroes are on the shorter side. Now there is no longer such a problem as there are enough of tall and good-looking heroes to go around!"
Ace showman Subhash Ghai sure
believes in catching them young. Known for his uncanny ability to spot
talent and for setting many a young wannabe star on the road to stardom, Ghai has, this time, made rather far-sighted investments. He has signed Jackie and Ayesha Shroff’s
10-year-old son Tiger, to star in a Mukta Arts production when he turns 20 and Shah Rukh Khan’s
two-and-a-half-year-old son Aryan. Aryan, it seems, also believes in starting out
early. He is all set to make his his screen debut in Karan Johar’s Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham, where he
will star opposite Amitabh and Jaya Bachchan, Hrithik Roshan, Kajol and Kareena Kapoor. But what
will happen if some years down the line, Tiger and Aryan decide that acting isn’t their cup of tea? Of course, not too many
people have said no to Subhash Ghai and maybe that’s exactly what he is banking on. —
Hrithik Roshan, Kajol and Kareena Kapoor. But what will happen if some years down the line, Tiger and Aryan decide that acting isn’t their cup of tea? Of course, not too many people have said no to Subhash Ghai and maybe that’s exactly what he is banking on.
One actress who has
surely proved her mettle is Karisma Kapoor. Her journey from the days of
frills and frocks and sarkailo khatiya to designer dresses and Fiza has, indeed, been a
remarkable one. She has secured her position as an actress of substance with each successive
film that she has done and it is not without reason that today she is known as one of the most
powerful performers in Bollywood. Add to that the fact that she seems to have a Midas touch and
almost any film that she does becomes at least a average hit, and it is not
difficult to understand why producers queue up outside her door. All eyes are now on Zubeidaa, a period
film set in the fifties, which is to be released tomorrow. She co-stars with Rekha and Manoj Bajpai in this
film. It still remains to be seen how she will fare against these two actors of
calibre but those who have seen the film insist that she has out-performed Rekha by a
mile. Knowing Karisma that is not difficult to believe. Remember how she more than stood her ground against Madhuri Dixit in
Dil To Pagal Hai ?
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