“He’s my best friend,” she told me. “Being lovers is easy, but remaining friends is tough.” That kind of honesty is hard to come by anywhere; in Bollywood — don’t ask! But I did. What was it that she looked for in her man? Was it sex? Companionship? Or did she require a man in her life 24/7 and so moved from one relationship to another? Kareena pouted, “Friendship first, and then love. Saif and I were friends right through Tashan. After that, we became lovers. Jab We Met was before I met Saif. I thought, if he can be my best friend, and be such a wonderful father to his kids, the rest will just follow.”
But, given his past, wasn’t it true that while he might be a great lover, he was lousy as a husband? “There’s no such thing as any man being perfect husband material,” she shot back, “the most stable guys make awful husbands. In Saif’s case, I followed my heart and instinct; that always make me happy, especially when I sleep at night. When you follow only your head, you end up frustrated.”
She has, I must admit, the courage of her convictions. How many actresses at the top of their careers have been honest about their relationships to their family, fans, the media? None that I can think of. Did she not fear that sometimes people might tend to forget she is Bollywood’s No 1 actress and think of her only as the woman in Saif’s life?
“By being honest and coming clean, I can hold my head high,” Kareena replied. Not a trace of irritation at the bluntness of my questions. I pushed further. If he was unwilling to commit to marriage, would she care to have a child out of wedlock with Saif? A love child? “No,” she said firmly, “I’m open about my relationship, but traditional in my values. Saif thinks I’m the most conservative and traditional woman he has known. I tell him, if you have a problem with that, then go be with someone else!”
Was there any other man who turned her on more? “Apart from Saif, nobody else... But Leo (di Caprio), oh God, he’s unnaturally good-looking; he’s hot and also intelligent. I’d enjoy his company,” she said brightly. Enough to if the opportunity came up, have a fling with him? “I’m traditional,” she reminded me, “I won’t have a fling.”
But this is not all about Saif only, and the love life between Kareena and him, we talked films as well. She’s got a fascinating fistful at the moment. There’s Kambakth Ishq with Akshay, Idiot with Aamir, Mr Aur Mrs Khanna with Salman, Golmal Returns with Ajay, and she’s doing Karan Johar’s next film (“It’s untitled and it’s based on terrorism,” she revealed) with Saif. “I’ve chosen the right roles in all of them,” she said with a look of smug satisfaction. Who was her favourite co-star?
Kareena hummed and hawed a bit, then came up with, “Akshay, it’s so strange, I’ve done more films with him than Saif. Akshay and I look nice together; I share a comfort level with him, an emotional bond. But I’ve always wanted to do a film with Aamir and one with Shah Rukh Khan. I’ve not done a love story with Shah Rukh. I was in Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham with him, but opposite Hrithik.”
She being the Queen of Bollywood, did her heroes treat her as being on par, or...? “Bollywood is male dominated,” she admitted, “but they are a little partial towards me. All of them have worked with my sister. And from way back then, they have treated me like a kid.” Did she, as a kid, have fantasies about any of these male hunks who were her sister’s co-stars, I asked. “All of them,” Kareena replied without batting an eye.
Talking of male hunks, would she do a film with her cousin Ranbir Kapoor, play his lover on screen? The eyebrows shot up, she laughed without embarrassment, “I don’t think so, and it would be my loss, because Ranbir is fantastic, he’s a brilliant actor. It’s so in his blood, he’s natural on screen. But I don’t know. Maybe Ranbir and I should do a film. Act as friends, perhaps brother and sister, but as lovers... maybe if the audience wants to see us that way. He’s hot and good looking, the best in the family, and I like interesting and different roles, I like taking risks, I’m ready to experiment. Jab We Met was different from Omkara. But I’m hopeful some director will write a film for me. I’d like to do a film like Erin Brockovich. Or be like Meryl Streep in Devil Wears Prada. I hope, at that age, I too have that fire in me that she has.” That the fire is raging in her at 28, there is no doubt.