Priyanka Chopra, Kareena Kapoor's new-found camaraderie could make for a fitting Koffee with Karan finale
At 38 and 36 respectively, Kareena and Priyanka are amongst those rare actors that have beaten prejudices of age, gender and marriage
Before the era of pre-trained movie stars and iron-fisted publicists was a time when actresses spoke their mind. In an industry like Bollywood, where a decent part for a female actor is still not the norm, but lauded as a rarity, competing for good parts is essential for a leading lady’s growth. Kareena Kapoor Khan and Priyanka Chopra provide the best example of affection that turned into mutual angst that has now made way for mature appreciation of each other. Their presence at the finale episode of Koffee With Karan does promise to be engaging, given their chequered history.
At 38 and 36 respectively, Kareena and Priyanka are amongst those rare actors that have beaten prejudices of age, gender and marriage. Kareena did a fine job of playing the lead role in Veerey Di Wedding, and now has Good News opposite Akshay Kumar (directed by Karan Johar), as well as Takht lined up. She has become a fitness inspiration and wears motherhood effortlessly. Priyanka has married who she chose to marry, does not bother with the age gap gasps and snarky remarks that come her way and has gone on to carve a whole new space for an Indian actor in western cinema and TV universe. Always a go-getter, she will now co-produce her next with Oscar-winning filmmaker Barry Levinson (Rain Man, Wag The Dog). The film will be based on the life of Ma Anand Sheela, the Osho aide that has now become a devious legend, thanks to the Netflix docu-series Wild Wild Country. Chopra has also made legit and respectable appearances in smaller films like A Kid Like Jake and Isn’t It Romantic. Here in India, she will feature in The Sky is Pink with Farhan Akhtar and Zaira Waseem. Shonali Bose directs it.
Although both Priyanka and Kareena made impact right from their initial films, their careers are marked by a fair amount of competition. Both acted together in Aitraaz, a time when they openly spoke about each other affectionately. But when Chopra won most mainstream awards and accolades for her negative character in the film, Kareena displayed some distancing. They also worked together in the Don remake with Shah Rukh Khan, where Kareena’s guest appearance was talked about for a hot minute, but ultimately she was overshadowed. Aside from films that they both competed for, their past animosity didn't seem to have a clear trigger.
A major factor during their heydays as actors was a certain salacious delight that some industry insiders took in fanning rivalries amongst female actors. The men were equally competitive but viciousness never stuck to them. For instance, Salman Khan, Shah Rukh Khan and Aamir Khan have always competed for the top spot, but artfully evaded sounding bitchy. Kareena and Priyanka, feisty personalities, often retorted to remarks that they were reported to have made against the other by the press.
For instance, when Kareena said that she didn’t consider any contemporary of hers an ‘actress’ other than Rani Mukerji, Priyanka called her a ‘senior’ actor who has the right to comment on her calibre. While promoting Kaminey, a film that co-starred Shahid Kapoor, who allegedly had been in relationships with both women, Kareena commented that Shahid could be spreading rumours about her to get his film publicity. It’s important to note that she had worked with Vishal Bharadwaj in a film before Chopra. PeeCee coolly retorted during a press meet that a film like Kaminey did not need to resort to cheap PR tactics.
Their tendency to call each other out in public continued on Koffee With Karan, the ultimate destination for unfiltered Bollywood chatter. Having watched Priyanka interact with the press at the Toronto Film Festival, Kareena wondered where she got her accent from. To this, Priyanka replied on another episode, that she got it from the same place as Kareena’s boyfriend (Saif Ali Khan). This remark was followed up by a joke that Chopra made to the press where she wondered if Kareena owned a computer in the first place. In a rivalry that had carried on for a few years, this was a low point, feeding into the cliché that two female actors can never be friends.
Perhaps as time passed, younger leading ladies like Deepika Padukone and Anushka Sharma entered the fray, both Kareena and Priyanka started to display signs of reconciliation. This wasn’t a PR strategy on their part. Put it simply, they had matured. Both shared the stage with Shah Rukh Khan and Saif Ali Khan during a police function; and then both complimented each other on Koffee with Karan as well as other press meets. She commented on a more recent episode of Koffee With Karan that Priyanka had made the nation proud. As Priyanka grew professionally with films like Mary Kom, Bajirao Mastani and Dil Dhadhakne Do, she also warmed up to Kareena.
As both these screen icons—one a self made outsider and the other a quintessential star kid—grew beyond their movie careers, watching them share the Koffee couch now will be something.
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