March 11,2013-Powerful, commanding, self-assured, and wellknown in and out of the film industry for being someone who doesn’t believe in mincing her words – Kajol walks into the studio, dot on time, ready to roll, and promptly announces, ‘Let’s get this started’. It’s pouring, a typical monsoon day in Mumbai, but the actor’s given her word and will keep it come hail or thunderstorm, literally. She’s looking stunning – face scrubbed clean of makeup, dressed simply in black pants and a striped top. She’s gotten better looking over the years, and two children later. Typically, for the shoot, she insisted on ensembles she knew work for her. Confidence could be her middle name. Says Kajol, ‘You are either born a strong person or you’re not… It’s not something I’ve cultivated over time; it’s who I am.’
Taking tough decisions
She has a straightforward take on life and hurdles that may come one’s way: ‘You just manage one conflict at a time, take one day at a time, one problem at a time, and deal with it the best you can. I don’t think I’ve ever felt, oh god! how am I going to face my life or tomorrow…’ The trick, she says, is in not getting stressed, but looking at a situation objectively, and acting upon it. ‘I take life with a pinch of salt… Having a sense of humour is important, and not taking life too seriously helps. It works for me.’ A bit of advice from the star: ‘You have to realise that life doesn’t come to an end just because you’ve made a mistake. Things happen… not always good, but that’s life. Deal with it!’
Talking of decisions, Kajol married actor Ajay Devgn when he wasn’t the superstar he is today. At that time there were two discernible trends among actresses: Either they married outside the film industry and settled happily abroad or they married a coactor and invariably the marriage floundered… Kajol stepped off the beaten track and married Ajay, then “just an action hero”, in 1999. Thirteen years later, the duo are together and have two children – Nysa (who’s 9 years old) and Yug (now almost 2 years old). ‘I think everything in life needs work to make it work, even marriage. If you want it badly enough, you will put in the effort towards making it happen, making it work, and keeping it in place… ‘ She feels Ajay and she get along as people, as friends, and that’s important to sustain a lifetime of being together. In order to work at a marriage, she feels it’s important to take make time to be together. ‘For any two working individuals, it’s always difficult to take out time to be with each other – it’s a bit challenging because you have your own set of things to do for the day – and more so if you have children. But I guess, because I know how it is to be in the same line of work – “been there and done that” – it’s easier for me to maybe look at the situation more objectively and give him a little leeway.’
When Ashwani Dhir, the director of Ajay’s film Son Of Sardar was casting for the movie, he approached Kajol. She declined the project saying she had responsibilities towards her family. In fact, it was she who recommended Sonakshi Sinha, who eventually did the role. The supporting wife is excited about the upcoming movie. ‘The film’s looking fabulous. The trailer is good, but the film is even better!’ she says. This wife can step back and provide a candid assessment of her husband. ‘Ajay’s grown tremendously as a person. He’s become much more disciplined and a better actor… Today, he’s able to get into things he wasn’t comfortable with earlier, such as comedy. I don’t think there’s any role he won’t be able to justify. Most actors just stay in their comfort zone, instead of stepping out and trying things out of their realm. He’s changed his entire point of view towards life and his career, and I am really proud of that!’
Fitness – A Way Of Life
Looking fitter than she has in many years, Kajol, unlike many other actors who lose the glow when trying to get rid of post-pregnancy weight, looks great. ‘We have a gym at home. I have to say I am obsessed with it – I love my workouts. I enjoy the two hours at the gym. It’s a fantastic time.’ The well-toned actor believes that working out is a way to give your body, mind and yourself something that’s purely and selfishly for yourself. ‘It’s the best way to burn off all the excess energy, and to feel good about yourself,’ she adds. At 38, Kajol shows no sign of ageing. ‘Food habits and lifestyle – both contribute to it actually, and so do the products you use on your skin. You should take care of your skin, no matter how busy you may be. I never starve myself, work out like a maniac, go to sleep on time, and wake up on time – all of this works for me.’
Movies & Me
We last saw Kajol in My Name Is Khan in 2010, a role that won her the “best actress” title at a number of award functions. The “favourite” actor of the masses, also added the Padma Shri, awarded to her by the government of India last year, to her list of many achievements. Since then, a number of projects have been offered to her, but she has refused them all. ‘I most certainly didn’t want to work after my son Yug was born. I wanted to take time out for myself and my little one. And I feel every woman should be able to do that – you deserve it!’
Candid about lack of good work at present, she says that she’s been waiting for the perfect project to come by. ‘If a fantastic project comes to you – a superb script, wonderful role and a great director – then it’s very difficult to say no… but I haven’t found that lately. So it’s not been a conscious decision really’, she laughs. So what’s her definition of the “right” script? She replies, ‘ Something that has meaning to it. I don’t think you get those very often, and I am not going to do something that’s frivolous; just for the sake of doing a movie. If I take time out away from my kids, I have to believe that the project will give me that kind of personal satisfaction, and will really be worth the sacrifice. There should be a reason for me to be on the set.’ As an actor, Kajol feels that at the end of the day, it’s the script that is the king. ‘All the pieces of the puzzle should come together well. And the role you essay has to be a part the entire puzzle, and should put it together.
It’s not good in isolation. I have never insisted on being the main character in a film. I believe you should be able to stand out no matter how big or small the role. And that’s the biggest challenge – even if you have three lines to say in a film, they should get people to say, “my god!”‘ She pauses, and adds, ‘I would like to be a part of the film and not be apart from the film. So yes, I am picky and choosy, and I’ve gotten pickier and choosier as I have grown older… Sometimes I feel that the right man is easier to find than a good script!’ she laughs.
Kajol’s been on our cover before with close friend and confidant, Karan Johar, who she shares a special bond with. In a recent comment made by Karan about her cameo in his soon to release Student Of The Year, he said that she’s such a dear friend that he had to just pick up the phone and call her, and she was ready to do it for him.
‘It’s practically just a 30-second role – I come, do one dance step, and go back in – hardly anything. And what do I say? We are friends – and that’s what friends are for! I don’t have many friends and can literally count them on the fingers of my one hand. I know that doesn’t make me a very popular person, but it does make me a happy person. And I really am happy with my friends. I put a lot of time and ef fort in my relationships, and therefore don’t have leftover feelings to invest in new relationships. I love the few friends I have, and I will have them hopefully till the day I die. And I know they think of me the same way.’
What about the not-so-great equation that her husband Ajay and her close friend Shah Rukh Khan share? Does it affect her friendship with SRK? ‘Ajay and Shah Rukh don’t know each other well. They do not socialise with each other, and I think that’s all right. A friendship between two people is between them. It’s what you say to that person and how he responds to you that matters. I don’t think it has anything to do with anyone else really, even if that person is your husband.’
Family Comes First
Today, when most married couples prefer to stay away from their parents, and live in nuclear families – wanting space and privacy – this strong-headed actor staunchly believes otherwise. She lives with Ajay’s family. But surely a joint family couldn’t be easy to manage, we ask her, and pat comes the reply, ‘It’s a myth that it’s better to live alone. I’ve stayed in a hostel for five years, and lived with my parents, grandmother, great-grandmother – the entire family – my whole life. So I think I would be very lonely, depressed and suicidal if I were to live alone in a nuclear family. I love my family – with all their quirks and eccentricities and I would rather handle all of that and live with them, than without them. They are what makes me happy.’
The actor feels that she also has her issues, but like they deal with it and still love her for everything, so does she. ‘Also, let ‘s get down to the practicalities. I won’t be able to work. if they are not there. Had my motherin-law not supported me, and taken care of my children, I wouldn’t have been able to do anything. My mom, sister and mother-in-law have helped me become what I am today, and I have managed to juggle everything because of them… I ask for help whenever I need it. Most people don’t do that, for whatever reasons.’
Give Yourself Importance
With so much to do… time always seems like it’s on a fast track. So how does she unwind we ask? ‘I have to forcibly take out “me-time”. I am very insistent when I want it. I like to be with myself, to read, watch television, knit, work out, and do things I like. I go to the room at times and shut the door. I tell everyone, “I want out!” and I just go chill… And I ask them not to call me out unless the house is on fire,’ says she. The actor loves to read in her spare time. And tells us that she’s just finished Ashok Bankers’s Ramanaya series. ‘I pick up a book whenever I find the time – between shoots or when possible. I love my vampires and werewolves. My daughter Nysa is also very fond of reading – both of us plonk ourselves on the sofa and spend hours reading.’ A lot of people ask the actor if she misses work, ‘And I tell them that I have a life that is full of a lot more things that I am doing than just acting. Yes, work is fun, and I would like to do it till the day I die, but at my own pace and time, and that’s how I will keep it,’ she signs off.
Kajol’s “Me-time” Tips For You
‘The first thing I would say to all the women, every where in the country, is that you have to be able to forgive yourself. It’s okay if everything is not perfect — you have to be able to say that it’s all right, the world’s not going to come crashing down just because I haven’t been able to do a certain thing right. Also, never feel guilty about that one hour you’ve taken out for yourself on a certain day. You too have a right to unwind and let your hair down. Don’t keep thinking about some chore you could have been able to finish in that one hour of indulgence. Think of it this way: Maybe this one hour is going to refresh me and make me perform those hundred other things better. I think that is it! Just take time to do things you like, so that you don’t lose your identity… And don’t become just someone’s wife or just someone’s mother or daughter-in-law – remember to be yourself.’