Filmstar Kajol embraced individuality long before it was cool. Everything from her dusky complexion to her loud demeanour and powerhouse performances was a testimony to the fact that standing out could be far more rewarding than fitting in.
The talented actress made her Bollywood debut almost two decades ago as the charming Radhika in Bekhudi (1992).
The peak of her career, however, was Yash Chopra’s Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge (1995) and she has never looked back ever since.
In an exclusive interview for The Express Tribune, Kajol shares everything from her upcoming projects to family commitments and her opinion on Pakistani dramas.
Meet the Devgns
Like most kids, Kajol’s three-year-old son, Yug and 11-year-old daughter, Nysa have strong opinions on their mother’s work, albeit different ones. “Nysa doesn’t like the movies l do because according to her I cry too much in them,” she admits with a laugh. “She wants me to do films like her father does such as Golmaal as she enjoys watching them more. As far as Yug is concerned, he shouts “Mommmmmm”, whenever he sees me on TV.”
The love for films is probably genetic as young Nysa has already been a part of a short film making competition at school. Both Kajol and Ajay are proud of their daughter’s work.
While most critics would argue that Kajol has had a relatively better and well-recognised stint in Bollywood than hubby Ajay Devgn, Mrs Devgn thinks otherwise. “I don’t think Ajay had any lows in his career. He was always consistent,” she said, adding that her husband is one of the most reliable actors in the industry. She also appreciates the recent transformation in Ajay’s image, where he has taken a break from the insecure and passive character in a film like DilJale to a confident, well-built and more entertaining persona, such as the one seen in Singham. “I like both, Ajay’s character in Singham is more convincing to me. Yug is also a great fan of Singham. We were both shouting when the title song Aata Majhi Satakli [played] during the screening.”
Never too old for item numbers
“I don’t think that age has anything to do with Indian cinema anymore — and thank God for that. Bollywood has changed, and it’s an exciting time to be in right now, because we have different kinds of movies that are all working at the same time,” says Kajol.“You have a film like Peepli Live one hand and on the other hand, you have a, well, All The Best, which has also done well. Bollywood is not restricted to a certain genre anymore.”
Her excitement regarding the evolution of Bollywood hasn’t really changed her attitude towards the film industry as she continues to be increasingly picky about the scripts. After a hiatus of four years, she will now be seen in a film by Ram Madhwani, which will also be her own production under the banner of Ajay films. The story revolves around a housewife who ends up taking charge of her family’s criminal business after her husband is assassinated. The police offers her protection but she takes matters into her own hands and plans to track down her husband’s killer.
“I know my fans are waiting to see me on screen, but I like my space and I like to do one film in a year or so and not more than that,” she asserts. “I was always choosy but now I have become even more careful when it comes to picking scripts.”
Even though Kajol was one of the few actresses who didn’t have to resort to the usual tactics of thumkas and item numbers to prove her mettle, she is not opposed to the idea of doing one.
“A bunch of people make the industry and that bunch includes everyone, right from the actors, villains, vamps and item girls. It’s like a cherry on the cake. And of course item girls have always been an integral part of Indian cinema to remind you, Helen and Bindu were really legendary at their times,” said kajol, declaring that she is willing to go down that road, even though she has not been approached for an item number yet.
A cross-border affair
A few years ago, it would have been impossible to imagine a Bollywood actor watching Pakistani dramas with the same enthusiasm that we display for their films. However, the recent screening of Pakistani dramas in India has been a major game changer as it has not only recived the appriciation they deserve, but also won over overseas audiences, with Kajol and her mother-in-law being one of them.
“My mother-in-law follows them religiously on this channel called Cine Dosti. I have managed to watch a few episodes with her and was really impressed. They have good content and the language is extremely pleasant to hear,” says Kajol. She feels that Indian television producers have a lot to learn from Pakistani dramas, which are much shorter and crisper in comparison. “They finish one story in 15 episodes, which is fabulous and makes it very interesting to watch.”
As far as working in a Pakistani film is concerned, Kajol is open to the idea if the project has a good script, tight screenplay and is headed by a good production house. But the actress wants to visit Pakistan and meet her fans, irrespective of an artistic collaboration. “It’s a beautiful country with a rich cultural heritage. I would love to visit the valleys in Pakistan which are known to be one of the most beautiful places on earth.”
Published in The Express Tribune, September 8th, 2014.