I had seen her in my first for-real Bollywood movie, Main Prem Ki Diwani Hoon. (Why I returned for more, I don't know. Well, I do, but I'll save that story for another time.) Then I saw Bewafaa, which I mostly liked, even though she didn't thrill me. After this, I think I saw others. By the time I saw Omkara, I had seen her enough to be surprised. "Hey! I don't hate her in this!"
In Don, she was a vapid attempt at eye-candy, which can happen to lots of women in movies. Then I saw Chup Chup Ke, in which she played a young woman who was, inexplicably, mute. "Ugh," I thought, and worse. Who thought that someone could be a worse actor when silent than when speaking?* I avoided everything she was in, even when her co-star was one of my favorites. I said vile things under my breath while refusing to rent a large number of movies.
Then I saw Jab We Met. My inner straight woman 25-year-old just adores Shahid Kapoor. (My inner 25-year-old gay man wants John Abraham in the worst way.) "Hey," I thought. "She's not thoroughly annoying in this!" which was nearly high praise at that point.
I forgot about that, then saw Asoka this last weekend. While I am not prepared to cut her the same slack I do Preity Zinta, whom I like even when she's bad, or Juhi Chawla or Rani Mukerji or Kajol or Sushmita Sen, whom I would continue to wildly adore even if they were dreadful, I was impressed. She carried a challenging role with guts and brains.
I know I run the risk here of appearing far too superficial to do myself or anyone else any good, but since I may be the only one who ever reads this, I think I've figured out one thing I have disliked about Kareena Kapoor. Whoever does her makeup often draws too much attention to her mouth and makes her eyes too close together. She sometimes reminds me of Karen Black, armed with pounds of lethal lip gloss. It hurts my feelings. I want to see women in movies and real life who have more substance and less frou-frou shit. When Kareena Kapoor is not preceded onto the set by petroleum products carefully applied with a backhoe, I get to focus more on her acting, which can be OK.
But please don't ask me about Karisma.
*It amazes me. The same industry that accepts and even loves Hrithik's thumbs deals so badly with other atypical health conditions by
- blatantly ignoring the realities of blindness (most blind people in Bollywood movies that I have seen, and not just those that are faking blindness, can not get out of a room once they have entered it unless they are assisted by someone sighted, flail their arms and heads around as if suffering psychotic episodes (don't get me started on Black), and can not tell where a speaker's voice originates) and
- not requiring actors to limp on the same leg consistently during one movie and
- making mental illnesses include lots of drooling, unless the person is a lovely young woman.