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Siraj Syed

Siraj Syed is the India Correspondent for and a member of FIPRESCI, the International Federation of Film Critics. He is a Film Festival Correspondent since 1976, Film-critic since 1969 and a Feature-writer since 1970. 



MFF 21 Movie Mela, III: Kareena Kapoor-Khan, Alia Bhatt and Karan Johar in Big Talk

MFF 21 Movie Mela, III: Kareena Kapoor-Khan, Alia Bhatt and Karan Johar in Big Talk

Kareena Kapoor Khan and Alia Bhatt discussed their favourite roles, film icons and handling success, with producer director and itinerant actor Karan Johar at the Jio MAMI Movie Mela with Star 2019, held on 13 October 2019 at the Rang Mandir, Bandra, Mumbai. This was the last session of the ‘feast/fest’. The Rapid-Fire session witnessed a surprising twist from close friend, young actor Varun Dhawan, who was not on the panel.

It turned out to be a light-hearted chat peppered, with charisma and witty repartees. Superstar Alia and Kareena have won hearts both on screen and off, and in staying true to their individual styles, had the audience glued to their seats throughout the session.

Kareena was a picture of poise and elegance, the vestiges of Pooja from the melancholic Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham (K3G) all but gone, except in a deliberate moment of pretentious fun. Being a mom may not have changed anything by way of work for her, but Kareena certainly came across as a woman who, despite her phenomenal success, holds her family very, very close to her heart. She was quick to say that “Mr. Khan” (husband, actor Saif Ali) is the sexiest male movie star, while Mom-in-law Sharmila Tagore’s a timeless beauty, who has always encouraged her to look her best and pursue success, without fear. She agreed that her grandfather Mr. Raj Kapoor is a director whose legacy she thinks is irreplaceable, and of course, spoke about Taimur, her son, who, Karan joked, was learning the ways of celebrity life, at an early age. 

Alia was her usual impish self–which earned her a good deal of ribbing from Karan, and a hilarious moment, where she refused to talk on an issue for the fear of being trolled. She was sincere in her admiration of Kareena for her body of work, and the way she has successfully continued with her career after motherhood. Undoubtedly one of the most versatile actresses today, Alia has made bold choices of roles in her young and blossoming career, so it came as somewhat of a surprise when she admitted that she would love to do light-hearted ‘masala’ roles from time to time–the kind made popular by Karisma (Kareena’s sister) Kapoor and Govinda, in the 90s. Both actresses concurred that critical acclaim was as important to them as the commercial success of their films, although neither of them would lose sleep over the latter.

Kareena, despite being the heartthrob of millions, is almost absent from social media platforms – a fact she explained by saying that much is written and reported about the life of celebrities that there’s little left to share anyway. Alia agreed, adding that she saw no reason for celebrities to deliberately try and create an air of mystery, and that they were quite happy just being themselves.

Self-assured and magnanimous, Kareena had nothing but praise for young Alia, whom she hailed as being the best artiste among the current generation. She had a word of advice for the superstar too–“Don’t be a part of the rat race. Do justice to your phenomenal talent; don’t sell it cheap.”

The trio were also briefly interrupted by a call to a common friend Varun Dhawan. While Varun wasn’t very audible and had a hard time believing that he wasn’t being pranked, the audience did not hold back cheering and chanting his name and their love for him; gladly welcoming the surprise interruption.

Karan then moved on to a rapid-fire Q&A with the ladies, and laced it, as always, with dollops of his tongue-in-cheek humour. Here are some of their exciting exchanges:

Q. Tell me a movie experience that you can never erase from your mind.

Kareena: Tashan. I looked good in that movie. And I fell in love with Saif during its making.

Alia: Kuch Kuch Hota Hai. I loved Kajol’s character so much, I even went a got a haircut like hers. [Giggled]


Q. Name an Indian film that you wish you had done.

Alia: Again, it’s Kuch Kuch Hota Hai.

Kareena: Kal Ho Na Ho


Q. The sexiest male movie star.

Kareena: Mr. Khan. [Smiling slyly] I leave it to you to figure out which one. (There are many Khans in the Hindi movie star world, prominent among them being Salman, ShahRukh and Aamir).

Alia: Hrithik Roshan


Q. All-time beautiful woman.

Kareena: My mother-in-law, Sharmila Tagore

Alia: Madhubala


Q. Most overrated and underrated film.

Both actresses spoke as one, saying that, being actors themselves, it would be inappropriate of them to talk about any film as being overrated. Kareena had no suggestion, too, to make, on her idea of an underrated film. Alia, however, named Lamhe.


Q. Name an actor that you’ve felt threatened by.

Again, both actresses agreed that “threatened” was too strong a word and that intimated would be a better way of putting it.

Kareena: Alia, if I have to share screen space with her.

Alia: Ranveer Singh, for the manner in which he slips into the personality of the character.


Q. A director whose legacy is irreplaceable

Karan: Wait, let me guess… Raj Kapoor. [Guffawed] It’s all about loving your family, isn’t it Kareena?

Kareena: But that’s exactly what I was going to say!

Alia: I’d have to say Yash Chopra and David Dhawan.

Karan concluded the session with a Q&A session, and group selfies for the stars and the audience.

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About Siraj Syed

Syed Siraj
(Siraj Associates)

Siraj Syed is a film-critic since 1970 and a Former President of the Freelance Film Journalists' Combine of India.

He is the India Correspondent of and a member of FIPRESCI, the international Federation of Film Critics, Munich, Germany

Siraj Syed has contributed over 1,015 articles on cinema, international film festivals, conventions, exhibitions, etc., most recently, at IFFI (Goa), MIFF (Mumbai), MFF/MAMI (Mumbai) and CommunicAsia (Singapore). He often edits film festival daily bulletins.

He is also an actor and a dubbing artiste. Further, he has been teaching media, acting and dubbing at over 30 institutes in India and Singapore, since 1984.

Bandra West, Mumbai


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