How to be a successful career woman, according to Kareena Kapoor Khan and Anita Dongre
"I hope women understand the importance of finding the right balance"
One built a fashion empire with a conscience; the other redefined the rules for her female colleagues in Bollywood. Fierce, feminine and so fashion, Kareena Kapoor Khan and Anita Dongre on being responsible role models to modern Indian women.
ELLE: You are both strong, independent, successful women. Do you see yourselves as role models?
Anita Dongre: We are privileged to be born in a cosmopolitan city like Mumbai, where we are able to live our dreams—Kareena’s dream of being an actor, my dream of being a designer. That’s why it’s important that we work as role models for other women, and show them that if we can do it, so can they. It wasn’t easy for Kareena just because she comes from a privileged family. She had to work hard to be where she is. Ditto for me.
Kareena Kapoor Khan: Hard work is hard work, and no one can run away from it.
ELLE: What does it take to build a legacy?
AD: Support. I come from a very traditional Sindhi family, where girls were not allowed to work. I broke that tradition, but I had to convince my parents. Once I did, they became my biggest supporters.
KKK: Becoming an actor had nothing to do with my family. It was my passion. Contributing to the Kapoor legacy was important, but it was never expected that I had to do it. I wanted to do it. And my son,who knows whether he is going to be an actor or a sportsman? He might even want to be a chef. Whatever it is, Saif [Ali Khan; husband] and I are going to encourage him, because no child can flourish without support.
ELLE: Kareena, how do you hope your life choices will inspire other women?
KKK: I’m a working mother, and I’ve always been a working wife. I hope women understand the importance of finding the right balance—dividing your time between family, work and friends. I hope women take inspiration from what I’m trying to do.
AD: Being such a big influencer, Kareena is really changing the way society thinks. She’s shown us how you can have a baby and still work, while still being true to everything you do. Her actions speak louder than her words.
ELLE: Looking back at everything you’ve achieved so far, what are your hopes for the future?
AD: I really wish for an India where every woman is allowed to follow her dreams, and is economically empowered. Whether she is in a village or a city, I want her to be able to live life on her own terms.
KKK: I hope to become a better actor, and continue to be a good wife. But above all, I hope that years from now, I can look back and say that I’ve been a very decent mum.
ELLE: What’s the one thing you would like to change today to make tomorrow better for your children?
KKK: I want to encourage parents to not put too much pressure on their children. It doesn’t always have to be a case where they need to score 98 per cent and get a PhD. I want my child to be a good person, with strong values—and to be true to himself. That’s most important.
AD: What I worry about the most is what we are leaving behind for our children. For me, the concern today is the environment, and the kind of India my child will have to live in, within the next 30 years. We need to do something about it—and fast, because time is running out.