Friday 18 August 2017 News Updated at 10:08 AM IST
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25 years & counting - Deccan Herald
25 years & counting
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It’s been 25 years since Kajol began in films. From Bekhudi in 1992 to her latest release, VIP 2 (in Tamil and Hindi) marks an amazing journey, with Kajol exhibiting phenomenal talent across the cinematic spectrum of films (most of which were huge hits) like Baazigar, Udhar Ki Zindagi, Karan Arjun, Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge, Gupt, Hameshaa, Dushman, Pyaar To Hona Hi Tha, Kuch Kuch Hota Hai, Hum Aapke Dil Mein Rehte Hain, Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham…, Fanaa, My Name Is Khan, and more.

Kajol is in an extremely upbeat mood when we catch up with her just before the release of VIP 2, her first Tamil film in 20 years. Her only Tamil-Hindi bilingual earlier was Minsari Kannavu/Sapnay, and we want to know why it took her a full two decades to do a second film in the South. "Sapnay absolutely traumatised me!” she says. "For two hours every night after the shoot, the crew and I would sit poring over Tamil newspapers and the dialogues for the next day. I had never slogged so much even for my ISCE exams. So I said to myself: 'That’s it! No more films in this language, or any language that I do not understand. I am a Hindi film actor, and that’s what I am going to be.”

For the love of script

So what changed her mind this time? Kajol grins and says, "Dhanush, who is my hero and has also written the script, and director Soundarya, came to me for a narration. I was like, 'Okay, I do not do Tamil films. But since you want me to hear the script, I will. But I will not do the film.’ And it was a lovely script, so I told them that. And they said that 50% of my dialogues were in English. The rest, they would get dubbed. So I said fine, even if that dubbed portion is in Chinese, what does it matter? I like the role, I will do it.”

The first two days were unsettling. "Dhanush, Soundarya and I sat with 100 different things - voice notes, papers and so on,” remembers the actor. "I had butterflies in my stomach and did not sleep for two nights, but soon, the rhythm of the language seeped into me. It began to flow much, much easier. I must thank both of them for backing me completely. They safeguarded me, and so speaking in Tamil became easy.”

Kajol relates to her character of Vasundhara Parmeshwaran, so self-made and successful that her level of self-confidence could be perceived as arrogance. The hero, Raghuvaran, comes from a different world, and his ideas and ideologies are poles apart. "Both are equally stubborn in their beliefs, as they are completely convinced that they are right, and the film is about the clash of their ideologies,” she reveals.

We tell her that Dhanush had looked upon working with her as an impossible dream as he had always been her fan, after growing up on her films. Eyes narrowed, she says mischievously, "I know! I know! That shows I am such a venerable senior actor,” she says in mock anger.

On a serious note, she adds, "Well, I have definitely infused Vasundhara with a lot more life. Yes, because Dhanush was the writer, I could tell him openly if I did not like anything in the script and he would change it. That said, he’s also a very intelligent and fine actor.”

Cinema without barriers

Kajol feels that the film industry is poised to be in its best phase. "The word 'regional’ is being slowly eradicated. The audience has changed and their levels have gone up. We cannot get away with any crap, as the people are being exposed to so many mediums as well as films from all regions of India and the world. Whatever we put out must have to be at a certain level.”

Because of that, she is even ready to do a good web series. "Good work is good work, and will always be remembered, whichever the medium.”

It’s been 25 years since she began, and she is still relevant. How does it feel to be like the three Khans, Akshay Kumar and husband Ajay Devgn? After a long laugh at the compliment, she says, "I am still enjoying my work, which is a big pat on my back itself. Of course, that is also because I have not done too much work!”

So, was that laziness or being choosy? She chuckles and says, "Definitely a bit of both!”

What about buzz that she is starting her own production banner? "Ah, good you asked me that. Look, my surname is Devgn, and that has been the same for 18 years. So, Ajay Devgn FFilms is my home banner, and there is no question of my starting something else. Right now, I am doing one of our productions that will be directed by Anand Gandhi. We will announce everything in September. Happy?”

Yes, indeed.