by MOHNISH SINGH A two-decade-long career has seen Kareena Kapoor Khan become one of the most successful leading ladies of the modern era. The multi-award winning actress has starred in a string of successful blockbusters and won admirers with her fearless attitude towards life. Now, after working with some of the biggest names in cinema, the popular actress has ventured into TV as a judge on the latest series of the popular reality show Dance India Dance, which commences this week on Zee TV. Kareena graces the judging panel on the show along with choreographer Bosco Martis and rapper Raftaar. Eastern Eye caught up with Kareena to talk about her hotly-anticipated television debut and dance. You must have been offered several reality shows in the past; but what led you to take up Dance India Dance? I feel when an actress agrees to do a television show, it has to be at her level. It has to be that popular. I don’t think that India has seen any kind of dance reality show, which has run successfully for over a decade. That show is only Dance India Dance. So, I would say, there was no other choice. I wanted to be a part of it. If a TV debut was ever meant to happen for me, it had to be with the right show, with the right spirit and right kind of visibility. I am very happy I have chosen to be part of such a show. Tell us, how was the first day of your shoot?  When I started shooting for the show, I did not know how it was going to feel, how they were going to shoot it, what I was supposed to do and so on. For me, everything was new. Even Saif (Ali Khan, her husband), was nervous for me. He was constantly asking me, ‘what is happening? Are you okay? Are you able to do it?’ How was it? After shooting the first episode, I can say, I went home satisfied. In fact, I am looking forward to shooting the next episodes. I don’t think I have ever been so excited. Of course, I get excited when a new film is about to roll. But today, I am excited that I am going to be making my TV debut. What are the popular dance forms that are going to be on display in this season of Dance India Dance? The other day, we shot an episode where one of the teams did an odissi act. I feel Dance India Dance is a platform which welcomes any form of dance. That is why the show is called Dance India Dance, because the makers pick talent from different parts of the country. The concept of the show is such that it welcomes people from all over India. So, the contestants will show different acts, traditional, contemporary and so on. There are so many dance forms in India, for example, bharatanatyam, kathak, odissi or kuchipudi. It’s all going to be showcased on this platform. We respect all forms of dance. Tell us more… Someone was recently discussing that there are a lot of acrobatics and gymnastics involved in today’s dance and that we focus much on that these days. Of course, it happens. The younger generation probably does that, and I feel there is nothing wrong in doing so. There will be several dance forms showcased on the show, not just a particular one. The Kapoor family has done dance really well, going all the way back to your grandfather’s generation. Which of your family member’s dancing inspired you the most? I think dance runs in the blood of each and every member of my family, be it my grandfather or uncles. But there is a huge difference in their styles. The way (my grandfather) Raj Kapoor danced was different. He had his unique style. You could not compare it to (my uncle) Shammi Kapoor. When Shammi Kapoor would dance in a film, you could not say that he danced like Shashi Kapoor. That is the same with the younger generation also. When (my cousin) Ranbir dances, you cannot say he dances like (my sister) Karisma. That is the beauty of our family that we have adapted to different kinds of dance forms. Who, in your family, is most excited about your TV debut? Everybody in my family, including my parents, are excited about my debut with Dance India Dance. My parents have watched the show for the past seven-eight years. So, when I told them that I was going to be a judge on the show, they were as excited as everyone is. Is your son Taimur interested in dance at all? (Laughs). He is barely two and a half years old. At this age, he has an interest in everything. We will have to wait and see what he is actually interested in. If he likes to dance, his parents will support him. If he is interested in acting, cricket or football, I am there to support him. But I want him to find his journey. How is Dance India Dance different from previous seasons? The show has become bigger, better and grander in every sense. This is the first time the makers have invited the press to the sets. As you can see, it is a 360-degree set. We have more than 200 cameras capturing the contestants dancing. We have concave and convex LED lights all over. The grandeur at which this show is being shot, I don’t think any other dance show has been shot on this scale ever before in India. We are taking talent from all four parts of India – north, south, east and west. The best of everything has come together and that is why it is called Dance India Dance: Battle of the Champions. The contestants here are already champions. I believe it is going to be the best. Are you going to be a strict judge on the show? The journey of the contestants is going to be my journey. Look, I am not a seasoned judge, so I am definitely going to judge from my heart. But I will have to put my mind to use as well. My fans and people who are close to me know that I am emotional. Whatever I do, I do it from my heart. So, I am going to judge the show with an open heart. Let’s see what is in store. Speculations are rife that you are going to do a Netflix series on Poo, your character from Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham… No. Right now, the only thing that I am doing is Dance India Dance for the next three and a half months. There will be 12-14 hours of Dance India Dance and nothing else. But, has the project been offered to you? Well, Karan (Johar) is a friend and we are discussing things. But, right now, nothing is finalised. People believe that Bollywood actresses turn to judging TV shows only when their career is on the decline. But you are still at the top of your game. Then what brought you to television? That is nothing but a media concept, I think. We suddenly start viewing things with myopic mindset when it comes to film actresses debuting on television. We all are like, ‘okay, an actress has crossed a certain age, now she has to go on to TV.’ If you watch Netflix, I am sure you must have come across this show called Delhi Crime. According to me, Shefali Shah, who plays the lead in Delhi Crime, has done a fantastic job. I think it is one of the best performances I have seen possibly on any medium. I think no female star can reach her performance level. She is married and has two children. But that is irrelevant. Today, everybody watches that show. So, I think, it’s our mindset that is very narrow. We need to open up our minds, because it’s not like TV is smaller than the big screen. According to me, the kind of spends Dance India Dance is making and the way it is being shot, it’s as big as a Karan Johar film. So, why are we even comparing it? We have around 200 people working day and night to make the set look as big as any film set. We all are stars and talents out here. So, I don’t think we should ever look down upon television as a medium. What does dance mean to you? Dance is, of course, an expression. We can convey so much through dance; be it pain, happiness or love. Dance is a vision you can look at however you want. I am so glad that I am going to see so much of dance live on the sets of the show Dance India Dance. Do you ever miss not learning any dance form? This has been my biggest regret that I could not dance with (kathak maestro) Birju Maharaj (in any movie) as I have not learned classical dance. I have been an ardent admirer of it. I love watching classical dance programmes. I am not professionally trained in it. So, that is the only regret. Is there any Bollywood actress whose songs used to make you get up and dance in your childhood? I am a huge fan of late Srideviji. I have grown up dancing to her songs. Dance India Dance premieres on Zee TV on June 22 and will air every Saturday and Sunday at 8 pm