The real deal

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The real deal

FROM THE MINUTE cameras began rolling on Heroine, the intrigue the project has stirred has been worthy of a movie plot in itself.

By David Light

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Published: Wed 19 Sep 2012, 10:47 AM

Last updated: Thu 2 Apr 2015, 11:27 PM

Not only were there casting issues – Kareena Kapoor’s initial refusal led to Aishwarya Rai signing on as the main role, who soon had to leave after falling pregnant, returning the part to the original choice – but, reports have also emerged of an alleged on-set kidnapping, the story’s similarity to the successful The Dirty Picture and Dubai residents’ being left up in arms at a passing ‘rate-card’ comment made by the protagonist in the movie’s promo.

These issues were swiftly cleared up in due course. Either the filmmaker or actress have explained each one away and, especially concerning “Trailergate,” pointed out that the media’s reaction proved their point that the misconception that the emirate is a hub for lascivious deeds exists, but is just that: a falsehood.

Conjecture on one item of the plot does persist, however. Who exactly was Kareena and director Madhur Bhandarkar’s inspiration for the heroine in their upcoming eponymous picture? Rumours were abound, after Aishwarya’s departure, that the lead character Mahi Arora was altered to incorporate more of Ash’s life – a move that, if true, is sure to irk the superstar. A few commentators speculate that Madhur will receive legal notices from a bevy of mainstream actresses for portraying elements of their private life on screen. We are already aware that Preity Zinta’s trick of wearing a burqa to the cinema to avoid recognition is featured; what juicer revelations will follow and what trouble will ensue? Regardless, Kareena did not shy away from the fact that her title character’s journey was, on the whole, drawn from real life experiences.

“There is nothing I am not aware of in Bollywood. I have grown up in a film family,” the actress said when brought to the Khaleej Times office this month by Ministry of Events and Dream Advertising. She continued, “It’s 80 per cent real. Madhur (who accompanied her on the visit) says 70, but it is definitely more.”

Falling short of naming any one current Bollywood star who may potentially take offence, Kareena explained, “Madhur got inspiration from Marilyn Monroe and Elizabeth Taylor. I don’t know of any Hindi industry girls specifically. Maybe some yesteryear actresses? But when I was doing the role, I didn’t want to think of any one particular figure.”

Ever the professional, the star whet our appetite with the reference to the tragic lives of two of Hollywood’s most iconic leading ladies, but deftly avoided making any enemies closer to home. We guess we’re just going to have to make our own inferences when the movie opens tomorrow evening.

It could have been her less-than accurate timekeeping - arriving for the interview two hours late - the hint of a nose-in-the-air swagger when entering the room or the defiant yet mischievous glint in her piercing light eyes when avoiding being persuaded to name names, yet it was while answering our queries that Kareena’s demeanour bore a certain resemblance to an unlikely source for Heroine material, but one that would add an interesting dimension. And, as we thought about it, there are a few parallels in Kareena and this personality’s back-stories.

Both born into a life of privilege the younger Kapoor sister and Paris Hilton were always destined for the spotlight. By no means would we say Paris has the acting talent of the Bodyguard star, nor has Kareena got up to half of the Hilton heiress’ antics (we think), though, known for their impulsive behaviour, their looks not being a million miles apart and renowned for getting their own way, our musings were compounded by Kareena’s sentiments on whether her sister or parents had any say in her signing on for this Bollywood introspective.

“I have never really listened to advice even from my parents,” Kareena said. “I have always done my own thing. I have learnt from my mistakes and I’m happy my parents let me do that rather than dictate my every move.

“I learnt from Karisma when following her on set in the 90s. I learnt a bit from from her, but this is my own journey.”

So does she believe that aspiring actresses could pick up a few pointers from Heroine? Is this her offering to those with stars in their eyes who don’t have famous relatives to pick up tips from? No.

“We’re not preaching. That is not the kind of movies Madhur makes. Nobody wants to see a lecture. Of course a lot of girls want to become heroines, but the only things you need are talent and beauty.”

Sounds simple enough…

Whilst shooting for Heroine, unlike many actors, Kareena decided not to take on any more movies until this one had been completed. A result of the intensity of the subject matter she told us, “I don’t think I could have given any more into playing Mahi. I am a heroine. I am an actress. When I saw a finished shot I thought what is happening to her can happen to any actress and it is scary. It leaves you with a sinking feeling.

“With superstardom and super success, there is always something edgy behind that star. We all wish life was all about dancing in a chiffon dress, but it is not.”

So whether it’s based on Marilyn, Liz, Paris, Preity or Ash, what we can deduce is that Heroine will offer a fascinating insight into the roller coaster industry we all admire.

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