Actor Kareena Kapoor almost has a cult following her legendary portrayal of Poo, from Karan Johar’s Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham. Twenty-two years later, her dialogues from the film are part of our lexicon because she’s just one of the few actors who can make extra look that memorable, enough for a character to have her own fanbase. She has a flair for the loud and bratty rich characters, and even unintentionally, she managed to bring some hilarity to those roles (Remember Khushi, Main Prem Ki Diwani Hoon?). No matter how badly the film flopped, Kareena was always remembered.
Kareena did variations of her iconic characters Poo and Geet from Jab We Met, another one of her memorable hits. Nevertheless, Bebo always ensured that she wouldn’t just be remembered as Geet or Poo clones. For every Tina, Poo and Geet, there would be another film that would see her experiment with a completely different character — ranging from a vengeful sex worker in Talaash, to an empathetic doctor in Kyun Ki. The flamboyance and extra-ness would strip away and we would be treated to another aspect of Kareena’s acting range.
Here’s looking at the times when Kareena steered away from being slotted into a category and decided to show a different side to herself…
Kareena played the role of a vengeful sex worker in this film, starring Aamir Khan and Rani Mukerji. Quiet and with deadly calm, she gave the chills in the climax of the film, where it was revealed that she was actually a ghost, who had been looking to apprehending the man who had tossed her out on the road without any regard.
Much before she became Poo, Kareena debuted with Refugee, also starring Abhishek Bachchan, an emotional, poignant tale about a Muslim man who helps Indian refugees from India and Pakistan through Rann of Kutch. Kareena played the role of Nazneen, Refugee’s lover. It was an impressive and impactful debut, as Kareena portrayed the contained anguish and raw fear of the character with much panache.
A modern retelling of Shakespeare’s Hamlet based in the Indian heartland, Kareena played the role of graceful and tragic Dolly, wife to Ajay Devgn’s hot-headed Omkara. In this tale of blood and revenge, there are no winners, and Kareena’s stinging portrayal of the Indian Desdemona still remains poignant, even 14 years later.
Kyun Ki (2005)
Kyun Ki, starring Kareena Kapoor and Salman Khan is one of her most heart-wrenching films. There’s no happy ending in this painful tale of love and loss. Salman plays the role of a man suffering from mental disorder, and Kareena is a doctor who is drawn to his deeply tragic past. She is against her father’s oppressive methods when treating mental patients, and believes in love and compassion. However, the film gravitates to far more morbid ending that fans could imagine, and Kareena’s final scene is particularly painful to watch after she realises that she has lost her patient forever.
Another one of Kareena’s unusual roles, where she played the role of sharp sex worker. The events of the story unfold in just one night, after Chameli runs into Rahul Bose’s morose Aman Kapoor, who is still grieving his wife’s death. A friendship grows between them and his outlook on life changes after his association with her.
Kareena again played a doctor in this film. Even as the focus was on Alia Bhatt here, Kareena brought so much nuance to her quiet and understated performance as a doctor trying to undo some wrongs in a drug-addled society.