Bollywood wouldn’t be Bollywood without Kajol. Sonia Ahmed catches up with one of the industries best-loved actresses
So how are you enjoying motherhood?
I’ve wanted to become a mother since I was 8 years old! It’s really fun and a lot of hard work. It’s made me more patient; I don’t cringe anymore when I hear a baby on the flight.
Would you allow your kids to enter the industry?
If they wanted to definitely, but I would also ensure that they are protected and taken care of in each and every way – but right now they’re too young so don’t talk to me about it!
You’re in London for the charity work you do with Pratham, tell us about your association with them.
Pratham works to educate children. We take education for granted and never think twice about the fact that we’re bilingual or even tri-lingual. It just comes naturally especially in India - when you’re talking to a taxi waala you switch from Hindi to Marathi to English and you really don’t think about it.
But with Pratham I visited a school where it was incredible to see what education like learning a language can actually do for a child. I believe that education is the only way for a country to grow and solve problems. Our children are our future; we have to give them a chance and to give them that chance you have to educate them enough to understand what the choices are. I really, truly believe that that is the path to whatever we want to become- if we want to become a ‘first world country’ or whatever they call it then that is the way we have to go about it.
You’re also involved with Save The Girl Child with your husband Ajay Devgan. Why is this charity so important to you?
I’m a girl child and I have a daughter - yet what happens to girls, being unwanted, is so scary. You can’t just take it casually or look at it as a passer by and think it’s someone else’s problem. So thank god the issue is finally being acknowledged.
Let’s talk about Ajay, he’s really buffed up recently. Is this a mid-life crisis?
Mid-life crisis? If this is what a mid- life crisis looks like - then DAMN! A lot more people need to go through that!
Do you prefer a buff Ajay or thinner Ajay?
Let me put it this way, I married the man when he was a diamond in the rough, I take full credit for that! But he’s one of those people who’s always had real personality that has overwhelmed everything else around him whether that was his body or his films.
He is one of those really courageous actors who has been able to tackle every genre of cinema – which is a very scary thing for an actor – I mean I talk from personal experience. And what’s more amazing is that he has made himself do that. He has that ‘can do’ attitude of I’m willing to push that boundary and go where I have not gone before and I find that astonishingly courageous.
What’s the secret to a successful marriage?
There are no secrets, you have to work at it everyday. It’s not a quick fix solution or a crash diet – you have to work at it every day of your life and you have to sometimes be a grown up and sometimes be a child and know how to maintain a balance.
People always put tremendous pressure on you and Shah Rukh Khan getting back together, will you do more films together?
I must have said this a 100 times, it needs to be the right script and it needs to have the right people, it can’t just be about oh let’s take SRK and Kajol and make a film.
You recently made a cameo in Student of The Year, what was it like seeing Sidarth and Varun on the screen?
They were behind the camera as Assistant Directors on My Name Is Khan and the first time I heard that Karan was launching them I was like hmmm! But they look fantastic and I’m sure it will do well.
You’re one of the most successful Indian actresses, do you ever reflect on your own success?
I’m not really the type of person that sits down and reflects and thinks let me look at my trophy wall that’s not me. I prefer to think of it as yes, I have achieved a lot, I don’t deny that or put it down and I respect my self for that, but I also believe that I need to go forward and whatever I do in the future will hopefully be as good if not better!
If you could re-live or go back to any film that you’ve done which one would it be?
Re-live? I wouldn’t want to relive it. I really am happy with where I am now. Wherever I am today is because of the decisions I made in the past which I thought were the best ones, and yes in hindsight there are moments when I have thought God, that was stupid - but I wouldn’t redo anything because at that time I thought it was the best thing to do.
Have you seen Ajay’s new film Son of Sardar?
I have seen portions of it. It’s fabulously shot and the songs are awesome! And it is funny; he is really funny in it and the movie has a really nice Punjabi feel to it too. It’s a lovely commercial film and I am dying to watch the whole thing.
You haven’t gone towards independent films or really dark cinema, are you mainly a mainstream fan?
The thing is I want to do films that I enjoy watching and enjoy doing. I actually read a lot more than I watch films but the movies that I do enjoy watching are commercial movies. I like action and funny films.
How do you think Bollywood is currently shaping up?
Our film industry is going through a fantastic phase - it’s an amazing time to be an actor in the Indian film industry. People are willing to take a chance on new people, there are new scripts, and new directors and people have figured out that it’s economically viable.
Last question, who are your kids more scared of you or Ajay?
ME! Definitely me!
Portrait image by Prasad Naik