Actress Kareena Kapoor is only as good on screen as the literature she reads.
Speaking to The National before her appearance at the Sharjah International Book Fair on Saturday, she credited the written word for unlocking her imagination in ways film and television have not.
"Reading and writing just really opens you up, because you are really just alone with your thoughts," said the Bollywood star.
"Through your visualisation you can really go to different place, it opens your mind and it's so fulfilling. But writing is also an art and it's quite a challenging one."
Kapoor, 43, speaks from experience, having released two books over the past decade.
The first was the breezy 2013 self-help book The Style Diary of A Bollywood Diva, in which she shares tips about how to dress for certain events and how to strike the perfect camera pose.
"That was a book I did for fun, because I never thought I would do another book," she says. "So it was really writing about the things I enjoy, such as clothes and personal style."
In 2021, she went deeper and co-wrote Kareena Kapoor Khan's Pregnancy Bible, in which she shared insights from her pregnancy, as well as practical advice on what to pack for hospital visits and how to create the ideal home nursery.
The latter title was discussed in her session at the book fair.
"I wanted to give an honest account of motherhood," she said. "And I thought to write it in a book would be perfect, because it was the second time I was becoming a mother and I enjoyed my first pregnancy.
“At that time I was very open about working and I did until my ninth month, and I felt the book was an exciting opportunity to really talk about how I was feeling and what I was doing."
Kapoor said her sons Taimur, six, and Jeh, two, have also made her reconsider some of her conceptions of beauty.
"It is so relative and I feel that it is something that you feel. You don't have to always be on a red carpet or wear that complete 10 out of 10 dress by the most expensive designer to feel beautiful," she said.
"I think my children make me feel beautiful when they wake up in the morning and the first thing they do is come and give me a kiss."
The support from her global fanbase is also something to cherish.
Kapoor, the star of popular Hindi films including Jab We Met and Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham, admitted that she and her peers needed validation from the audience.
“All actors, I think, are plants. They need to grow and like a plant, you need to keep watering it for it to grow,” she said.
“So you need to keep loving me and I think every actor wants that love and nurturing. Whether it's from our fans, whether it's from our directors, that's the only way we keep growing.”