"The last 20 years have passed in a jiffy," marvels Kareena Kapoor Khan, almost unbelieving that it has been two decades since she first faced the camera for Refugee (2000). Her career graph has been as envy-inducing as it has been incredible. With numerous blockbusters and several awards to her name, Kapoor, 39, is easily among the most sought-after actors in Bollywood.
Mention to her that she has held her own in an industry that was infamous for writing off heroines post marriage, and she analyses, "I am aware of the industry dynamics, and have adequately reinvented myself.
People who don't have their head on their shoulders can't stand the pressures. Here, people around constantly boost your ego; having 40 million followers on Instagram and earning heaps of praise can create a false haze. But I have lived the last two decades by detaching myself. It's an art that I have mastered over the years."
She also credits husband Saif Ali Khan for helping her "see the big picture".
"As actors, we meet the same people, talk about which film is being made, which brand endorsement you missed, which director you want to meet for the next big role. This loop gets toxic. For me, reinvention is getting the big picture right and [that is achieved] by knowing more about the world. I have had the privilege of taking a step back, travelling, reading, and meeting people who have nothing to do with this world. I owe that to Saif."
As she enters her 21st year, Kapoor has arguably the two biggest projects in tinsel town—Laal Singh Chaddha and Takht—in her kitty.
The actor believes that she, along with her contemporaries, has actively worked towards changing the narrative for leading ladies in Bollywood. "Kangana [Ranaut], Vidya [Balan], Priyanka [Chopra Jonas] and I picked up films that moulded different narratives for women. There was a shift in audience mentality. Actors, who are in their 30s, are a lot more relaxed now; they chase stories before everything else."