Right at the onset of the latest episode of Koffee with Karan season 8, Kareena Kapoor announces Alia Bhatt as her ‘favourite.’ When host Karan Johar interjects and asks her, isn’t she ‘apni favourite (her own favourite)’, Kareena replies nonchalantly and matter-of-factly, “Yeah, but I have to like other people also no?” (Also Read: Koffee With Karan season 8 episode 4: Kareena Kapoor on if she will play Sara Ali Khan’s mother in a film)
Kareena owns her excellence, Alia doesn’t
Kareena reiterates throughout the episode, like she has across her two-decade-plus-long career, that she’s in a league of her own. From claiming that no other actor can step into the shoes of Poo (Gucci heels in her case) or Geet, because they can’t match up to her performance as those pop cultural phenomena in Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham and Jab We Met respectively.
When Alia is quizzed on if she’s the best actor in India today, she hesitantly shrugs off the question. When prodded, she explains that she can’t assume excellence otherwise she’d stop striving to be that. But all she needed to do was look next to her: Kareena does assume she’s the best, yet she still silently strives to be even better. As Kareena says on the episode, “When does a woman even peak in her career?”
Kareena’s middle finger to trolls, Alia’s blindfold
Alia insists on the episode that trolling doesn’t bother her. Yet she admits she wouldn’t discuss husband Ranbir Kapoor too much as recent remarks invited excessive trolling. Kareena is no stranger to trolls: she was massively attacked for naming her firstborn Taimur. Her sister Karisma Kapoor has gone on record about how Kareena howled in the hospital due to all the trolling, but she stuck her ground, when she didn’t change Taimur’s name, even though Saif suggested they should. She named her second son Jehangir.
Kareena revealed on the show that her and Ranbir’s legendary grandfather Raj Kapoor used to say that the public owns the actors and that they shouldn’t complain from their ivory tours as long as their movies are working. But Alia’s reaction to trolls is laced with more victimhood than dismissal, something Kareena has been able to champion now. The inability to disengage with trolls is directly proportional to the inability to own one’s excellence.
Juggling personal and professional like a queen
Kareena has never protected her kids from the arc lights or the public gaze despite Taimur’s troubled history. In fact, both she and her husband Saif Ali Khan have led by example by allowing their kids to emulate their aloofness or unassumingness in front of the paparazzi. Alia and Ranbir aren’t hiding their daughter Raha like probably an Aditya Chopra and Rani Mukerji do, but they have an agreement with the paps to not photograph the one-year-old.
While the choice to reveal their baby’s face is completely theirs, the Aditya Chopra-isation of Raha does have a lot to do with the scrutiny the couple is at the receiving end of, and how much it gets to them. Alia can easily be labelled a ‘bad mom’ like Ranbir was deemed a ‘toxic husband.’ Alia has a long way to go, before she can pose with all her diva energy like Kareena does, when her kid (Jeh) is crying and throwing a fit lying down on the floor in front of her.
Bebo over nepo
Unlike Kareena, Alia entered Bollywood at the peak of the nepotism debate that took birth on the very same Koffee couch a few years ago. That dark cloud continues to chase Alia even though she proves her excellence as an actor film after film. Saif Ali Khan famously entered the discourse through an open letter on ‘eugenics,’ which he later admitted was a misfire. But Kareena’s approach to the same is unlike any of these: she owns the fact that she comes from such a rich lineage, yet doesn’t miss a chance to remind everyone that she’s a self-made woman because her mother Babita Kapoor separated from father Randhir. The only one who made it easy for her, she admits, is Karisma.
Levitating over B-Town
The only time Kareena goes reflective on the episode was when she confessed that she doesn’t watch her movies because she wants to remain blissfully unaware of her follies. She gave her all to Madhur Bhandarkar’s Heroine (2012), but the film failed to either deliver at the box office or fetch her a National Award, like it did for the director’s previous leading ladies.
Kareena admitted she doesn’t watch any other actor’s movies either as she’s busy living the life of travel, raising her kids, and enriching her domestic life. That must be attributed to Saif, but it doesn’t imply that she has an ostrich’s head like him. She’s acutely aware of what’s happening in B-Town, who’s signed what, and who’s had a fashion faux pas. She moves swiftly from one WhatsApp group to another, from one of school moms to the infamous GUTS, where her girl gang takes down celeb looks gone wrong.
Her own actor
When Kareena said that she’s a director’s actor, Karan shut her down and said she’s “her own actor.” Kareena laughed along, even though his remark slyly contests her professional code. But Kareena doesn’t need to prove it to Karan, whom she’s known for over two decades. She instinctively knows when to laugh with Karan on herself, or laugh at Karan himself.
She easily shuts him up when he asks him why she wasn’t at the Gadar 2 success party by saying that unlike him, she can’t attend every other party. When Karan joked that Kareena can’t survive a year without pouting, she turned the attention to the cringe anatomy of a Karan Johar pout selfie. And the best: when he called her a snoozefest on last season, Kareena said it was he who was boring her so she just turned into the disinterested person Karan becomes at every party of his.
Of course, Kareena has achieved this zany zen mode over years. But even when she wasn’t so, she was entertaining in a brutal and unfiltered way. Alia can no longer turn her ‘who’s the President of India’ blooper into a joke on herself, because she is unable to divorce the murmurs from the noise.
Kareena would somehow quickly do that and move on to her next European vacation. She wouldn’t mind getting objectified in a magazine profile interview as long as the magazine cover looks hot. As her Ek Main Aur Ekk Tu director Shakun Batra once told us, “Kareena doesn’t want to know how to do her shot. She’ll do that herself and very well. Kareena just wants to know when she’s going home.”
A new episode of Koffee with Karan Season 8 drops every Thursday midnight on Disney+ Hotstar.
‘Before the Koffee gets Cold’ is a weekly column that goes beyond the froth to study the storm inside the Koffee cup.
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