Kangana, Kareena on School, Stardom and Switching Off From Roles

  | December 04, 2015 19:40 IST (New Delhi)
Kangana Ranaut

Kangana and Kareena at the HT Leadership Summit in New Delhi on December 4

School was a transformative experience for both. Kangana said, "I was a very obedient child. There was a lot of pressure and I could not live up to it. I was pursuing science and used to study 19 hours a day. Kareena, on the other hand, was a 'brat' and her parents couldn't 'handle' that

Actresses Kangana Ranaut and Kareena Kapoor have origin stories as unlike each other as it is possible to find in the Indian film industry. Kareena, fourth generation of one of Bollywood's oldest dynasties, was born into greatness. Kangana, a rank outsider, struggled to make it for several years before 2015 crowned her Queen with the National Award for Best Actress. Put together, their sum of their worldviews and experiences add up to a conversation worth listening to. Kangana and Kareena participated in a session at the Hindustan Times Leadership Summit, moderated by Kareena's Jab We Met director Imtiaz Ali.
School was a transformative experience for both. Kangana, who claims she was the 'perfect student,' said her interest in academics petered out when she failed to place in the top 10 in her penultimate year. "I was a very obedient child. My family expected a lot from me. There was a lot of pressure, but I had a very passionate spirit and I could not live up to it. I was pursuing science and used to study 19 hours a day. My life revolved around Physics and Chemistry labs. I was in the hostel and my roommate was an artist. I used to daydream about sculptures. In 11th my results were very disappointing. I could make the chances of me becoming a doctor were very bleak. I explained this to my father and he tried to convince me to be a teacher. But after that conversation I felt that I could not reach out to him and that led to the breakout of my spirit and I felt I could not study at all. I feel the time I spent as a teacher is not even relevant now," Kangana, who went to the DAV School in Chandigarh, said.
Kareena, on the other hand, was a 'brat' and her parents couldn't 'handle' that. "I just used to hang around film shoots ogle at Akshay Kumar and Salman Khan. I wanted to tell them that 'One day I will work with you. My sister Karisma would tell me ' get out of here, go to school'. I am happy I realised my passion at a very young age. My parents had to take me away from that so that I could get exposed to a lot more. So my mother told my father to send me to boarding school," said Kareena, an alumnus of Welham Girls' School, where she says she learnt that there was more to the world than films. She did, in fact, go on to act with both Akshay and Salman in films like Ajnabee and this year's Bajrangi Bhaijaan.
Both women had their first brush with acting in respective school plays, in which both had male parts. Imtiaz Ali, who believes women are better actors than men, credited both actresses with bringing glamour and art together in their films. Kangana said, "When I started working in 2006, there were actors, stars and superstars and there was strong discrimination. Today, they have all come together and credit has to be given to the audience. Audience is ready for the kind of cinema where art can be combined with mass appeal."
Kareena, whose debut film Refugee released exactly 15 years ago in 2000, said that, looking back, she thinks she did a good job in her first performance and that she was so thrilled to finally be doing what she had always wanted to that she was determined to do the job well. "I love my job, I love what I am doing. I love the fact that every morning if I'm working on a movie, I'm enjoying what I can do differently. When an actor is not conversing a lot and doesn't have dialogues, I think that's the most difficult part," Kareena said.
Kangana said the scenes which she enjoyed the most were the ones 'that gave out a subconsciuous impression of characters in the story.' The Queen actress said, "I like scenes which add to character in a bigger way than a conventional format. Example in Queen when she says 'my most stylish thing is City Centre Mall'. She's being very naive when she says that."
Asked whether actors had a 'comfortable life,' Kareena said, "Circumstances aren't always pleasant. Producers are always on our neck. There's no love lost between an actor and a producer. An actor and director do have a relationship but the actor and producer don't."
The actresses' approach to acting was a study in contrasts.
Kangana said, "It's so hard to wake up in an environment to support the system you live in as a character. I end up living the pain of my characters. I remember when I did psychological thrillers or played a drug addict, I started to feel a melancholia and avoided that. I dont remember which are my own experiences and which are of the character. I go against my own body type to enact a certain character. When people say 'pack up,' you end up feeling so empty because you can't get out of the frame of mind of the person you had been living."
Kareena says her approach was different from Kangana's and it was easier for her to 'switch off.' "If I have to be upset or dying, I live in the moment. The minute it's 'cut,' I go back to my phone."
Equal pay for men and women in the film industry was discussed with Kangana saying that women who demanded their due were 'considered difficult' and that it was important to 'put your foot down.' Kangana is believed to be one of the highest-paid actresses working in Bollywood currently.
Current affairs were alluded to humorously. When asked by Imtiaz Ali to 'spice up' the events, Kangana turned to the audience: "What is it that you want, 'intolerance?'"
Kangana also revealed her pet peeve on sets. "I dread shooting with animals. I was shooting with a horse and he was annoyed with lights. I never want a script with a snake," she said.
Kangana's Tanu Weds Manu Returns was a runaway hit this year. Kareena had a blockbuster in Bajrangi Bhaijaan in which she starred opposite Salman Khan.

Listen to the latest songs, only on