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Bollywood A-list actor Kareena Kapoor Khan has been appointed national ambassador for India by humanitarian organization UNICEF.

UNICEF has been operating in India for 75 years and Kapoor Khan has been serving as the org’s celebrity advocate since 2014. In her new role the actor will support UNICEF India in furthering every child’s right to early childhood development, health, education and gender equality.

Speaking to Variety from UN House, Delhi, ahead of her signing on the ambassadorship, Kapoor Khan said, “When I reached out to them, I was wanting to work for them for child education, because it’s always been a topic that’s been very close to my heart and once I had the babies, my natural instinct was moving towards children’s rights.”

Kapoor Khan and her husband, the actor Saif Ali Khan, have two young children. “We always used to talk about the fact that how my voice would be heard across India, for providing children across the country, their fundamental rights, whether it’s the right to immunizations, to vaccinations, to gender equality, talking about how safety, the safe environment that children need to grow up and how education in the first five years of children’s education is so important, the formative years,” Kapoor Khan said.

“I’ve worked very hard and closely [with UNICEF] and we’ve done some amazing work. We’ve gone to schools and spoken to parents and reached their homes. I’ve done a lot of work in Madhya Pradesh, we’ve reached all across Delhi, schools in Mumbai,” Kapoor Khan added. “It’s something that now I’m so close to with having my own two babies that I have so much love and passion for it. I feel it’s come a full circle and the journey, this new chapter is about to begin, which I’m very excited for.”

Besides personal visits, Kapoor Khan will also feature in UNICEF videos advocating for children’s rights that will be disseminated across the world. The actor said that experience of working with UNICEF over the last decade and her own motherhood had made her realize that children want to be heard and that must be nurtured. Kapoor Khan will also actively seek to encourage children who display an aptitude towards the arts.

“Art is something that I think opens the minds of children, whether it’s speech or drama or painting, that is something that definitely I also wish to encourage. We had a reading program where people read out different stories in different languages, it was not a matter of what language you speak in, because the idea was a form of communication. We did an entire episode on children’s reading, it could be in the many languages that we speak across India. But the fact is to encourage them to do that,” Kapoor Khan said. “I push my own children, not just in drama or speech, I mean, my three-year-old, he’ll just pick up a pen, and he’ll just start scribbling or drawing. And sometimes I find that a piece of art. We have to find the positivity in that. It doesn’t have to really be perfect. It just has to be done and encouraged.”

The actor’s most recent theatrical release is “Crew,” which is one of the biggest Indian hits of 2024. Kapoor Khan, Tabu and Kriti Sanon play flight attendants with a failing airline who get involved in gold smuggling to a fictitious Middle Eastern country in an operation that’ll save them and their unpaid colleagues financially. Producers Ektaa R Kapoor and Rhea Kapoor are looking at a sequel.

“If it’s one film that deserves a sequel, it is ‘Crew,’ because I think it was such a refreshing take on women standing their own, using their mind, standing for their rights, in a very fun kind of way. It wasn’t preaching anything… it is film, it is entertainment. And that’s why I think the film did well, because somewhere I think women and families and people went and enjoyed and supported the film,” Kapoor Khan said.

The actor is currently filming “Singham Again,” the latest in Rohit Shetty’s cop universe that features Ajay Devgn, Akshay Kumar, Ranveer Singh and Tiger Shroff among the male leads, which she describes as a “completely male testosterone movie.” “There’s Deepika [Padukone] and me in the film, where we have very strong parts. But obviously it’ll be really different, it is the big ticket Bollywood bonanza for this year, and I’m sure people will enjoy that,” Kapoor Khan said.

Kapoor Khan also has Hansal Mehta’s “The Buckingham Murders” — where she plays a detective and mother who, after losing her own child, must investigate the murder of a 10-year-old in Buckinghamshire — lined up for release. Last year, the actor headlined Netflix original film “Jaane Jaan,” which became the number one non-English film globally for the streamer and was also in the Top 10 in 52 countries.

At the UN House ceremony for Khan, UNICEF India also announced the appointment of its first-ever youth advocates, who have specific areas of interest. Gauranshi Sharma, from Madhya Pradesh, specializes in the right to play and disability inclusion; Kartik Verma From Uttar Pradesh, climate change and child rights advocacy; Nahid Afrin from Assam, mental health and early childhood development while Vinisha Umashankar, from Tamil Nadu, is a budding innovator.



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