Interview Hindi Tamil

Kajol: I am still enjoying acting probably because I haven’t done much work


Kajol, who celebrates her 43rd birthday today, 5 August, 2017, speaks about her next release VIP 2 and what drives her to work in films even after 25 years in the industry.

Suparna Thombare

Kajol is an interviewer’s delight – always candid, talkative, animated and often funny. This time around too the actress was in her usual form. Even as she entered the room full of journalists, Kajol was at her animated best as she showed shock at the huge number of phones that were piled up in front of her to record her voice. 

“I am going to click a picture of this and I will put it on my Instagram story,” she retorted, accompanied by laughter. Oh yes, laughter is a constant companion when Kajol is in the room. 

As someone who has come to be known as the most spontaneous and natural actress of her generation, Kajol's filmography is not very long. She was last seen in the action-comedy Dilwale (2015), opposite her favourite co-star Shah Rukh Khan.  

The actress, who completed 25 years in cinema this year, will be seen in the Tamil film, Velai Illa Pattadhaari 2 (VIP 2), alongside Dhanush. Good news for fans is that Kajol, who generally takes a long break between two films, is also slated to start work on her next project, directed by Anand Gandhi, soon after the release of VIP 2.

In an interview to Cinestaan.com, Kajol, spoke about her forthcoming projects and her natural instinct to stay in her comfort zone as an actor and person.

Here are the excerpts.

On why she stayed away from Tamil cinema for 20 years

When I did Sapnay I was traumatised. I would sit with my Tamil papers and my assistant sitting over there. We became best of friends, the assistant and me, by the way. She is still my friend. So every day, for two hours, we would study the Tamil papers and Tamil dialogues. It was traumatising. I can’t tell you – I have never studied so hard, not even for my 10th std ICSC exams. After that I put my hands up and said no more films in another language that I don’t understand. I want to do good Hindi films, thank you very much. That’s exactly what I did. 

Honestly, when they (Dhanush and Aishwarya) approached me for the film, they told me 'ma’m we want you to do this film. We want you to hear the script.' I was like ‘I don’t do Tamil films’. They were like ‘we still want you to hear the script’. I said ok, you can come and narrate the script to me, but I am not doing it. Then after I heard the script I said its a lovely script, but its in Tamil. I asked them ‘Are you planning to change it to Hindi?’ They were like ‘No ma’m’, but 50% of the dialogues are in English and 50% doesn’t matter if you speak in Chinese also, we will dub it, so don’t worry. So that’s how we started actually. 

On the sets of VIP 2 
The first two days were very tough. It took me a long time but fortunately Dhanush was the writer of the film and Aishwarya was the director. They really worked with me and around me to make sure things were going well. We tried a 100 different things – voice notes and papers – repeating lines. The first two days in Chennai, I don’t think I slept well. I had butterflies in my stomach – would I be able to do it? But by the third day I understood the rhythm of the language and started understanding more about how it flows. It became much much better by the third day.

On playing a strong role
I liked the character of Vasundhara Parmeswaran. I liked the whole story. I hadn’t seen part one so Dhanush explained to me what VIP. Vasundhara is a self-made woman who has always done things her way and succeeded. And that in itself has given her innate confidence in herself that whatever life throws at her, she will be able to overcome and manage...because she has herself. She doesn’t require anybody else to do what she needs to get done. She has made a huge success out of herself. 

She is a career woman and she is very self-confident, which can be perceived as arrogance by people. She knows what she wants and she knows how to get it. And Raghuvaran (Danush’s character) comes from a completely different world, with a completely different ideology. 

They both have different ideas and when these two ideas and two people clash – its more of a personality and an ideology clash. And they are both convinced that they are doing the right thing. As an audience, as you watch them you are deciding as to who is right and who is wrong. 

About identifying with characters she plays

With every character, you have to pick one thing that you identify with and then exaggerate it and elaborate it. And therefore you make it believable to whoever is watches you on screen. 

I identify with my character in VIP 2 a lot. She is a self-made woman. She started working early and so did I. There is a lot of self-confidence in her and in me. But there are major differences. There is a saying that it is lonely at the top and that is Vasundhara. 

On being lonely at the top

I was never lonely. I made sure I had people around me always.

Female characters and changes in cinema

I think there have always been very strong heroines in the South. Many of them have temples built in their name. They have done a lot of female-oriented films. In fact, I feel more than Hindi cinema. As far as Hindi cinema is concerned, we are in a time and age where the word regional could slowly be eradicated because of digital, because of the various different mediums that we have. For example, we have been watching Star Gold for many years, where dubbed films are shown. 

I think that has changed things around for us as people. We are now making films that are not concentrating on a certain section of the society. We are making film for the general public. That is all for the good of cinema because our audience has changed. For one, their standards for what a good film should be has gone up. So you can’t get away with the crap that we were feeding them all this while. It’s not like ek choti si picture bana do release kar do, koi na koi to zarur jayega (Make a small film, release it, someone or the other is bound to watch it in the theatre). That’s not going to happen.

Also, when you are exposed to so much international content. Five years back itself Spiderman did phenomenal business in India. That was the first marker to how much our audiences have changed. Whatever we put out the level has jumped suddenly otherwise we will be sub-par. 

On always working with friends and people she is comfortable with

I think if you are not comfortable with the people you are working with or you cannot speak up and speak to the people you are working with, it doesn’t work. I think communication is a key element in working with people. You can’t work alongside them, you work with them.

Even today, I would have never taken a chance on a film like VIP 2, in another language, without knowing that Dhanush and Soundarya would pad me, back me up, and in every which way safeguard me. 

On if she will ever work with friend-turned-foe Karan Johar in the future

I don’t want to talk about this. But if any of my other friends want to make a film with me, sure!

Working with Dhanush

He is an intelligent man. He is a very fine actor. He has written the film as well so it was a plus point. I could tell him I didn’t like something and he could change it. 

Soundarya is a clear director. Vasundhara is a clear character – her body language would be how she would react. It made my job, and my director knew exactly what she wanted.

Her next project

There is a film written by Anand Gandhi, being produced by ADF (Ajay Devgan Films), which I am acting in. So its a home production. Will make a complete announcement in September. 

On completing 25 years

I am still enjoying my work - that is a big pat on my own back. That I wake up every day and want to go to work. I think it also has to do with the fact that I haven’t done much work. I am a bit of both – lazy and choosy. 

On pressure on her children to join the movies

I don’t plan my childrens’ careers. I only hope that I can provide them with the tools to find their own happiness by their own determination.

On her mother still working at 73 years of age

I haven’t watched her latest TV show Aarambh. But my mother is the most finest actor I have ever seen in my life. I don’t have words to describe her. She is looking amazing. I had seen her after she came back from a screen test. I told her you are looking fabulous. She was very excited and told me, 'I am playing a seer'. I was like that sounds like you in real life.

On coming from an illustrious film family and nepotism 

Honestly, I think its a moot point. It’s a debate brought on by two people who have decided to quote unquote each other. It’s a moot point because every child wants to grow up and be like their parents. Some lawyers children want to be lawyers. Doctors' children want to be doctors. Sometimes lawyers' children want to be doctors and doctors' children become lawyers. Sometimes both their children become actors. 

It’s an open world. It’s a free space and anybody can become what they want to become. Our film industry is particularly known for talking about the successful people, who have succeeded in the industry and led by example. You can take any name you want and they have succeeded because of their talent and sheer hard work. All these people only have that much to claim over their bloodline.