Another Karan Excerpt! This Time About Kareena

My copy of An Unsuitable Boy is sloooooowly making it’s way to me from New York, but in the meantime, the Indian press is keeping me up to date on the most interesting excerpts.  This time, one about Kareena.

Here’s the relevant excerpts:

“My first problem was with Kareena. She asked for too much money and we had some kind of a fallout at that time. ‘Mujhse Dosti Karoge!’ had just released, directed by Kunal Kohli. She said, ‘Aditya Chopra’s assistant Kunal Kohli has made this flop, so Karan Johar’s assistant, Nikhil Advis is not to be trusted either’……The weekend of ‘Mujhse Dosti Karoge’s release, I offered her ‘Kal Ho Naa Ho’, and she asked for the same money that Shah Rukh Khan was getting. I said, ‘Sorry’…..I was very hurt. I told my father, ‘Leave that negotiation room’ and I called her. She didn’t take my call, and I said, ‘We’re not taking her.’ And signed Preity Zinta instead. Kareena and I didn’t speak to each other for almost a year. For a year, we looked through each other at parties. It was very idiotic. She was a kid; she’s a decade younger than me…..We were releasing ‘Kal Ho Naa Ho’ in November. We had shot the film in June, July, August and in September I had to shoot the songs, make the promos and so on. So, I had to head back, while my father continued the treatment in New York. That was the time Kareena Kapoor called me. It was August. We had not spoken for nine months. She called and said, ‘I heard about Yash uncle.’ She got really emotional on the phone, and she said, ‘I love you and I am so sorry I haven’t been in touch. Don’t worry’.”

Isn’t that interesting?  Not the details of the feud, I kind of knew about that.  But how, again, Karan shows that he views the relationship between them on a personal level as more important than the professional one.

Do you notice that when he talks about it, he specifies that he told his father to leave the room?  There is an implication that his anger isn’t over not wanting to pay the money, but because he felt she was insulting his father.  And it’s her reaching out to provide sympathy about Yash’s illness which brought them back together.

And that Kareena knew this!  She made a mistake in asking for more money, not trusting him to begin with.  But she forgot all of that as soon as she learned his father was sick, because that was more important than any silly professional feud.

It’s not just that she was a decent person who cared about her friend’s father, it’s that she knew she should call and he would take her call if she reached out to him.  That their relationship wasn’t just “professional”, it was so much more than that.

And that’s what Karan’s problem is with Kajol.  That she suddenly was treating him as “just” a professional acquaintance and their whole relationship as “just business” instead of honoring their lifelong acquaintanceship and friendship of 25 years standing.

The industry in general always has this personal is more than professional attitude.  Which, I think, is a good thing. Sometimes it means terrible movies get made just because everyone is friends, and sometimes it means good movies don’t get made because people aren’t friends.  But ultimately, I would rather bad movies are made because people care about each other than because they think the films will make money.

(I would rather watch Duplicate a 100 times than Fitoor one more time)


10 thoughts on “Another Karan Excerpt! This Time About Kareena

  1. The personal over the professional dynamic is always fascinating. Though what struck me about this excerpt was yet again an actress knowing her worth and not being paid accordingly, even one early in her career like Kareena was. She’d read the script or at least had the story narrated to her and she knew that her screen time would be just as much if not more than SRK and SAK. Actresses in Hollywood (like Amy Adams and Jennifer Lawrence) are still fighting this battle today, so it’s nothing new anywhere in cinema, but, uggh, it makes me furious. I enjoy Karan as much as the next person and I think his personal story and his filmi vision are truly unique, but he can be a patronizing asshole sometimes, especially in the “she was a kid” part of this excerpt. Yes, she may have been immature in the way she handled herself and I’m glad she reached out when she did, but, come on, lets recognize as an industry that women sell films, too!

    On a related note, I watched Kareena and Sonam’s KWK episode. Kareena is as she declared “a legend.” She just seems so comfortable with who she is and, for me, that’s always been her greatest quality. Her dismissive comments on Priyanka and Deepika in Hollywood were hilarious. Also, I love the way she talks about Saif. She clearly thinks his mind is sexy, too. Sonam was less interesting as she was playing it far too safe. The Arjun Kapoor schtick is getting a little old, but he’s still adorable.


    • I still haven’t seen the KWK! Tonight, hopefully.

      I hadn’t thought about Kareena’s request in terms of gender parity. And, I don’t know, I think it was still out of line even on those grounds. She really was “a kid”, only 21-22 and just started in her career. She hadn’t had a single film so far that could be considered as something she really “carried” all on her own. And Shahrukh was the top box office draw at the time. Even if he had less screen time and so on, his name is the reason people were going to buy tickets. And his performance is the heart and soul of the film, what makes it really work. And all the extra bits you get with Shahrukh, his script input and ideas for promotions and everything else, Kareena wasn’t in a place where she knew enough about the industry to offer that. I think she kind of was out of line demanding his level of salary.

      Well, out of line in this one particular point. It’s one of those long string of decisions kinds of things. She didn’t deserve an equal salary because Shahrukh was the bigger star and had more to contribute. Shahrukh was the bigger star because he had more hit movies written around his star persona. And he had more to contribute because he had been working for longer and in more hit movies. Shahrukh was able to work longer because male stars get to have a longer shelf life, and he had more hit movies written around him because male stars and male characters usually get better films.

      Going back to KWK, did they talk about their difficulties in getting their joint movie off the ground? I saw a little interview with Sonam where she talked about that, how both she and Kareena cut their rates and made do with a shoestring budget because no one was willing to invest in a two heroine picture. I wonder if an older and wiser Kareena has realized that if she wants true gender parity in the industry, she needs to start by getting more films that are truly female lead off the ground and out the door and build from there. And by keeping working now, in her 30s, when she knows enough to do all the promotion help and offscreen advice and so on that the male stars can offer.

      Going back to the excerpt, I also wonder if Kareena’s pay demand was a lowkey way of turning Karan down and he knew it? That seems like one of the ways people avoid a flat “no” in the industry, hike up their prices beyond what they think the producer will pay. So maybe the insult was less that she was demanding such a high price, and more that she was trying to get out of the film because she didn’t trust his judgement.

      On the other hand, in terms of gender parity, if she wasn’t paid more than everyone else for Gori Tere Pyar Main, Ekk Main Aur Ekk Tu, Ki & Ka, and Udta Punjab, THAT would be a travesty!


  2. They didn’t talk about the upcoming joint film…just mentioned it briefly. That one could be a game changer…though I think it’s going to be a Sex and the City meets Beaches extravaganza. I’m still very excited to see it:) The whole heroine-centric trend continues and now we have the advent of mostly-female cast stories out there like Parched, Angry Indian Goddesses, and Lipstick Under My Burkha (the last two I have yet to see). Veere di Wedding will take all of these indie productions and give them the “glam” treatment, but I do hope it does so well that the industry starts to greenlight more of them. Though, I’m starting to develop some angst over the decline of the dancing around trees romances and old fashioned masala films, not to mention the decreasing number of full on song picturizations and dance numbers that define Hindi cinema. I rewatched Bunty aur Babli this weekend and forgot that like a third of the film are songs and glorious ones at that!

    Honestly, I wouldn’t be surprised if Imran made equal or more than her in Ekk Main and Gori, but I’m sure she made more than Arjun in Ki & Ka somehow. As for Udta Punjab, I bet they were paid in this order: Shahid, Kareena, Alia, and Dilijit.


    • Yeah, I’m sad about the globalization/multiplexation of Indian films as well. Especially since I don’t think it is very good business sense! More heroine lead films, sure, but keep the songs in them!

      Have you seen Lajja? I was just thinking about it, it’s a kind of uneven movie, but it’s super heroine lead, and the songs are FANTASTIC. Really uses the female item number type structure to empower the female characters and help them bond and all sorts of great things. I wish we could get more female lead films that had song numbers like that in them.

      On Mon, Jan 16, 2017 at 10:07 AM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:



  3. Nope, but it’s been on my list forever.

    Also, one last thought about Kareena and turning down KHNH…I think this was shortly after she and SRK’s Asoka didn’t do that well and she may have been concerned about being paired with him again (though as you point out…he is SRK!).


    • Good point! I could see that being a reason for her pay hike. Nervous about the SRK pairing, nervous about an untried director, wanted to get out of it without giving Karan a flat “no” and offending him. But was too young and new to realize that her pay demand was just as insulting as saying “no”, especially when it was last minute after most of the film plans were in place and the part had been written with her in mind.

      Bigger parallel universe thought, if Kareena hadn’t gotten cold feet and backed out of KHNH, then that would have been her first real movie with Saif (not counting LOC: Kargil where they had barely two scenes together), and maybe she would have fallen in love with him then just as his marriage was breaking up and they would have gotten together years earlier than they did. Or, alternatively, they would never have gotten together because when they met on Tashaan years later, they wouldn’t have had that “First time I’m really getting to know you, and I’m single and ready for romance” experience and instead would have had a “oh, you again, no biggie, I can’t see you as a romantic partner because I already know you as a friend” experience?


      • I was thinking the same thing about the what if with Saif. I think this is one of my favorite Saif roles and I’m kind of hoping they do a film where their characters actually end up together!


        • I kind of liked them in LOC Kargil, in their very very few scenes together, but it is strange to watch it now thinking “wow, at that time she was just your old friend Karisma’s teenage sister, and he was just some weird old guy.”

          On Mon, Jan 16, 2017 at 3:17 PM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:



  4. I am lowkey really happy about the fact that Kareena hasn’t starred in the movie. I could never imagine anyone except Preity in this role. I really think she was the most reasonable choice for the film (I think she wasn’t as famous around that time as Kareena was) and she brought a sort of humbleness and normalcy to the character, which I wouldn’t have sensed from Kareena tbh.
    I mean Kareena around that time just came off from playing the ”mean, pretty girl but with a golden heart-stick” in movies like K3G and the (sadly a flop) ”Mujshe Dosti Karoge” – which would have made it a little unbelievable to see her in such a subtle role (I mean she can defintly do it but around that time, I don’t think people would have bought into it).

    Sidenote: ”Mujshe Dosti Karoge” is another movie I feel like that got an undeserved treatment. I have to say that the whole ”email-correspondance-lovestory” was highly unbelievable and the clothes that Rani mostly was wearing absolutly hideous (except the traditional saris etc.) but I loved the music, the melodrama (even though the whole ‘best-friend-loves-guy-I-also-love-so-I-sacrafice-him-to-her’ has been done before ‘Har Dil Jo Pyar Karega’). But what I enjoyed the most in rewatching the movie was Hrithiks performance! He played such a crazy, psychotic, selfish man-child! Like there were so many scenes that honestly scared me, one of them is the ”Chips-Scene” where he uses abuse and blackmail to threaten Rani into marrying Uday. It is such a violent scene. Like if you watch the movie just observing how unfairly Hrithik is treating both of these women throughout the story and how everything should have ended with him locked up in jail, it suddenly becomes more intresting..(for me atleast haha).

    Oh and I also gotta say that I also really enjoyed Kareena in ASOKA with Shahrukh! I feel like the movie really deserves a rewatch from everyone. I remember watching the film when I was a kid and not being able to handle all the violence towards the ending (it literally gave me nightmares and I wasn’t able to sleep for weeks) but watching it now as an adult completly changed my opinion. I mostly loved the songs, the setting, Shahrukh as a ruthless prince and warrior. And yeah of course it didn’t follow the actual history of ASOKA but I thought it was nearly as tragic watching Shahrukh on his self-destructive path (because he lost his ‘one, true love) as seeing him in ‘Devdas’. I also feel like that was one of the few movies were Kareena and Shahrukh actually had chemistry together elsewise I never really saw that romantic spark between them on screen.

    Back to Karan and Kareena, I don’t really have much to add to your observation except that I highly disliked Kareena for the longest of times because of the grudge she held not only against Karan for replacing her in KHNH but also how she (and Rani but mostly Kareena) made fun of Preity Zinta publically on one of Karans KWK episodes. You could tell that there was some sort of jealousy going on from Kareenas side. I don’t remember it that much but I think Karan played a clip of Preity and they very mimicing her demanour and her laugh – it was pretty childish. I feel like Kareena and Rani also didn’t really liked Preity in the long-run cause she was also kind of an ”outsider” and also came into the business without actually having that big of a family connection (but thats just my guess). But I also felt like Kareena really hated the fact that her hubby Saif had so much more chemistry on screen with Preity as with her (all his movies with Preity were mostly successfull and his movies with Kareena not so much). I even read back then (again, this was such a long time ago) that Kareena got pretty upset over the kissing/intimate-scenes Saif shared with Preity in ‘Salaam Namaste’ and from then on forbid him of doing scenes like that ever again (even though she was herself kissing her on-screen love intrestes on screen around that time), this whole drama seemed pretty unfair to me. What also kind of confirmed to me that Kareena and Preity don’t really have a great bond, was how she wasn’t invited/didn’t show up for Preity’s wedding (like come on! everyone was there), even though Saif mentioned several times how he considered Preity a very good friend and ‘easy to be around’ (just watch the bloopers of Salaam Namaste and see it yourself). And I would also like to believe that Kareena has ”the pants on” in their relationship hence why I would think that Saif would stay at home at Preity’s wedding day if Kareena demands it but maybe I am just theorizing here..

    Anyways! These were just my thoughts on the whole matter 🙂


    • First, Mujhse Dosti Review. I definitely agree it is underappreciated, and the Hrithik INSANE performance is the best part:

      And I also agree that Kareena wouldn’t have been as good in KHNH. Partly, I think, BECAUSE Karan pictured her in the role. With Preity, the role kind of evolved around her performance and her chemistry with the other characters, it became more than what it was on paper. But I am noticing (especially now with Alia) that when Karan has his perfect “muse” actor or actress, he really restricts their performance to exactly what he wants. I think if Kareena played the role, it would have come off more spoiled and nasty instead of hurt and confused like Preity played it.

      On Thu, May 23, 2019 at 1:20 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:



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