“Indians want a bit of chatpata stuff”

Kareena KapoorKareena Kapoor is going through a rough phase at the moment. What she badly needs is a hit. Will Aitraaz and Hulchul do the trick? Vickey Lalwani catches up with the spunky actress.

Are you disappointed with Fida?
Of course. When I saw the final product a week before the release, I told the Tauranis (producers) and Ghosh (director) that this film won't work. It was difficult to digest the fact that the hero kills the heroine.

Didn't you know the story at the time of signing?
I knew the story. But there's a big difference in knowing the rough draft of the story and seeing the complete product. Also, the makers were quite confused about which ending they should finally stick to. Initially, they wanted to show a transformation in Fardeen and myself, which would have been a happy ending. I personally feel they should have shown Shahid killing Fardeen instead of me.

Moving on to Aitraaz, the promos are all focusing on Priyanka Chopra and Akshay Kumar. Didn't you mind that?
Well, Priyanka has a pivotal role. She has done some very bold stuff and carried it off well. But Indian women will identify with my character, and hence like it. I play a girl whose husband (Akshay Kumar) is accused of rape by his ex-flame (Priyanka Chopra). I stand by him in his moment of distress and helplessness, like every Indian woman would. Coming back to the promos and the length of my role, I have never bothered about these things. I came into Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham when the film was more than halfway through. And it turned out to be the most talked about role in the film.

Aitraaz was released with three other big films — Mughal-e Azam, Veer Zaara and Naach…
(Interrupts) So what? I don't think the four films will cut into each other. All four are widely different subjects. I am confident that Aitraaz will manoeuver its way through because it has a lot of bold scenes and dialogues. Indians want a bit of chatpata stuff these days. However, many people might first opt to see the all-time great Mughal-e-Azam in colour. It's a great feeling that my film and my great-grandfather's film are releasing on the same day.

In the last Abbas Mastan film Ajnabee, Bipasha walked away with the awards. Are you feeling apprehensive of Priyanka doing the same?
I don't care about awards. There are quite a few lying at my place. Karisma won a National Award too. It's cumbersome to maintain them in the drawing room. Every morning, the servant keeps cleaning them for at least an hour.

You have another release Hulchul. 
Yes. It's a funny film, a typical Priyadarshan film. I loved working with Akshaye Khanna. Plus I enjoyed working with Lakshmi who plays my grandmother. Lakshmi is a very sweet and intelligent lady.

Your forthcoming projects?
I have Bewafa which is about an extra-marital affair, then two films with Salman Khan — Priyadarshan's next (untitled) film and Salman's home production My Punjabi Nikkah. Thereafter, I am doing Harry Baweja's sci-fi flick which will be shot in Australia. And I have said yes to Manish Malhotra. Recently, I have been offered Shyam Benegal's next directorial venture. It requires me to play a smuggler. I have not yet given my consent. I have been constantly thinking about the role and haven't slept for the last six days.

You demand a different price from different producers. You are taking more than two crore from Harry Baweja to work opposite his son, Harman. Right?

Why treat different people differently?
I don't treat people at different levels. I focus on the budget of the film. If it's a small-budget film which excites me, like Chameli, I lower my price. But if it's a Rs-35-crore project, why should I sacrifice my money? Baweja is making a very costly sci-fiction film.

It is said that you ousted Amisha Patel from the shows abroad to step into her place.
Rubbish. That girl keeps making unnecessary allegations against me. Plus she says a lot of unsavoury things about me in almost all her interviews. It is getting a bit too much. But if that's what makes her happy, so be it. I am not going to waste my time defending myself.

Is Bajirao Mastani working out for you? 
Yes, it's happening. Sanjay Leela Bhansali plans to start it after he is through with Black.

The grapevine is that Aishwarya Rai is leaving no stone unturned in trying to oust you from that one.
(Shrugs) Nobody can change anybody's destiny. If I am destined to do Bajirao Mastani, I will. — TWF