She’s famously known as a spontaneous and instinctive actor. Some of that spontaneity and self-confidence are on full display when Kareena Kapoor Khan responds to social media scrutiny and taunts.

Twenty-two years after making her debut with Refugee, after having two sons who are the darlings of the paparazzi, the 41-year-old actor is thoughtfully looking to chart a new course. Not only is she partnering with Ekta Kapoor to produce a film, she’s also choosing grittier roles. Among them is the part of Rupa in Laal Singh Chaddha (in cinemas on August 11). Advait Chandan’s official Hindi-language adaptation of Forrest Gump (1994) stars Aamir Khan as the titular hero and Kapoor Khan as his forever love.

Excerpts from an interview with the Omkara and Good Newwz actor who says she is resolutely stepping out of her comfort zone.

Is there any way you could have turned down Aamir Khan’s offer to star in Laal Singh Chaddha?
Aamir was sure that I should hear the detailed script before making a decision. The way Atul Kulkarni and Advait have adapted Forrest Gump is the reason I did it. And who better to play Laal, because Aamir is never really Aamir in any of his films. From Raakh to Laal Singh Chaddha, no one has never seen the real Aamir. You fall in love with the characters he plays.

Also Jenny [played by Robin Wright] was such a beautiful character and the way they have etched Rupa is beautiful too. She is the soul of the film. Her range and arc are quite amazing. Your heart goes out to both of them and you want Rupa and Laal to end up together. That’s what I felt during the narration and I felt that being a part of this film was a no-brainer.

Jenny had darkness in her. How different is Rupa from Jenny?
There is a complete darkness to Rupa too. She is flawed in her own way but she’s also zestful and childlike. She’s had her share of ups and down and ends up where she does in her life because of her circumstances.

Kahani, Laal Singh Chaddha (2022).

What was it like working with Aamir again?
We have always had amazing chemistry and we feed off each other, in that he is very prepared and I am very spontaneous. So the sparks come, whether in 3 Idiots or Talaash.

I don’t think anyone could have played Laal and Rupa apart from the two of us. I am honoured that he thought of me for this character. I thought it was brave of him to ask me to screen test, and also cool. At the most, he would have said that I didn’t suit the part, which would have been cool by me because Aamir is someone who believes so much in his script.

I have worked with a lot of actors, but Aamir comes from a different direction altogether. For him everything is about the film. His passion and dedication are brilliant.

On what basis are you selecting roles now? Is it on a whim, is it for a new experience or is there some bigger design?
The choices are partly about stepping out of the comfort zone, but they’re also about new experiences.

I jumped at Sujoy Ghosh’s film [The Devotion of Suspect X adaptation for Netflix] for the opportunity to collaborate with Jaideep Ahlawat and Vijay Varma. I haven’t worked with either of these actors before. They come from a different realm of acting compared to me – their performance style, their flair for language is different from my approach – but I believe that if we work together it can be fireworks. And that’s exactly what has happened.

It’s time to change up the dynamics and do different things. I am shooting a Hansal Mehta film and then doing a female-centric film to be produced by Rhea Kapoor. You can’t be stuck. Anyway I have never been someone only doing commercial, mainstream song-and-dance films. After 22 years of working, one has to think of exploring different areas. There is no choice.

The Devotion of Suspect X remake.

Are you pushing yourself hard enough?
With content being all over the place and lines blurring, I would like to push myself in terms of content. That’s the reason I wanted to do something which will be on Netflix, which is slightly darker and not like anything I have done before. I would love to explore and do things that challenge me a little extra.

Streaming has boosted the careers of actors like Jaideep Ahlawat and Vijay Varma. Do you keep an eye on new shows and the exciting new voices and storytellers?
Absolutely. There are a plethora of writers and actors, good actors are getting work and we are watching these shows. That’s why commercial stars need to be on their toes. We have to examine what we should do and what direction we should go in. Only when I knew Sujoy’s murder mystery was perfect, when the cast came together, only then did I know it would be a firecracker and then I felt ready to go on a streaming platform.

Are you open to a web series?
That’s a tricky one. The proposition would have to be amazing because people are used to great content in the streaming space, especially for female actors. I get offered a series a day to read, but unless it’s 100 per cent on paper, it’s not worth taking on floors. If it isn’t not unbelievable, then it’s just one among many.

Laal Singh Chaddha (2022).