'Women are now demanding, and getting more screen time'
CE chats with Bollywood actress Kajol, who's returning to Tamil cinema after 20 years with Velaiilla Pattadhari 2
Kajol wears that infectious smile of hers, and still retains all her charisma, never mind the passing years. The Hindi audience loves her films like Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge and Kuch Kuch Hota Hai, but to us Tamil cinema fans, she's still Priya (her character in Minsara Kanavu). CE catches up with the actress, who was in Chennai recently to speak about her comeback film, VIP 2 recently.
Excerpts from the interview:
How does it feel to be here again after almost two decades?
It feels great. I got lots of offers post- Minsara Kanavu in Tamil, but I wasn't ready to take them up. Something about VIP 2, however, was interesting. I think it's the script! But honestly, I was initially not sure if I could do justice to the role. I took two days to think. Dhanush and Soundarya convinced me by telling me that half the dialogues were in English. They said I could even speak Chinese if I wanted. (Laughs)
Do you regret rejecting any Tamil film in particular?
Oh, yes. More than one. But I don't want to name them. At that time, I didn't have the confidence to act in films which have a lot of Tamil dialogues.
You still aren't really familiar with the language, are you?
Don't talk to me in Tamil now, but hey, I performed well in the film.When you see VIP 2, you'll know! I was told that I don't have to speak in Tamil, but on the first day, they gave me a lengthy script and told me, "Please try!"
"Soundarya is organised and knows how to extract work from her actors. She broke this myth in my head that I can't speak or act in another language."
"Dhanush is a fabulous actor, and made my work easier for me."
How do you deal with criticism?
I take it all with a pinch of salt. I am critical of myself. Criticism needs to be taken in the right way. I can't get too obsessed with it or disregard completely.
Motherhood has changed me drastically. I have learned to be more patient. The more patient you are, the better you act. They say I have mellowed down so much... And I tell them to have kids of their own!
What's the secret to your longevity in the industry?
I don't take things too seriously. That's about it. (Pauses) I am quite lucky. I have been around for a while, doing good films. I think somewhere down the line, honesty translates to the screen. I haven't done too many films, but in my case, it has worked out well.
Some say you headed South because you weren't getting offers in Bollywood?
I don't do films for money, and I am choosy about what I do. I only pick films that work for me. To answer your question, I am actually flooded with offers in Hindi cinema; but I felt I should be a part of VIP 2. It's a nice team to work with.
Have you watched the first part?
Not yet. But Dhanush narrated the first film to me. I am hoping to catch it soon.
"Chennai is the best city to be in. I am still great friends with Rajiv Menon (who directed Minsara Kanavu)."
Even during the 90s, when mainstream cinema was male-centric, you were playing strong characters. Today, women-centric films are doing well commercially.
There is no calculation and I don't follow any strategy. I do things from the heart. I think the intention should always be right. Choosing such characters is a reflection of who I am. It's probably the independence that has been ingrained in me from childhood.
On the professional front, it is an exciting time for me, as far as the directors I am getting to work with and the parts I am being offered are concerned. VIP 2 is a classic example. Leading ladies are now demanding, and getting, more screen time.
How similar is Vasundhara Parameshwar, the character you play in VIP 2, to you?
She's a cool, self-made person. She doesn't need a tag of any kind (say, a CEO) to be who she is.
I'd love to believe that she is a lot like me. (Smiles) I could relate to her completely; that's for sure.
How evil is Vasundhara?
She's not a negative character. The film is more about the clash of two people with different ideologies.