On a cold, muggy Friday morning, it is a pleasant surprise to meet Kajol, who was exactly the way I always pictured her in real life – fresh, bubbly and full of life. The raw Priya Chopra from Baazigar and the naive Simran Singh from Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge is now a classy well-spoken woman who has excelled in balancing her private and professional life. Though not as elusive as her contemporary Madhuri Dixit, Kajol has been choosy about her roles and fans eagerly await every release. If it is opposite Shah Rukh Khan in a Karan Johar movie, you can be rest assured the public would make a beeline to the advance booking counter. That has been the case with her latest movie, My Name is Khan, set to release on February 12th. We caught up with her during the London promotional tour of the movie.
How have Karan and Shah Rukh changed since Kuch Kuch Hota Hai?
They have grown up a little bit. Also more than anything else, once you grow up your point of view changes, it becomes more like you have seen the world and gone through things. All three of us have gone through a lot of things in the past eight years. Fortunately, we are friends and we have also been the kind of friends who pick up where we left from. Fortunately, for us working also is always like that. Hence we just get on with it.
Shah Rukh from MNIK is different from Shah Rukh in Baazigar?
Very. He is a better man today than he was then. He’s grown a lot as an actor. There has been quite an evolution in him as an actor since the time of Baazigar and it’s lovely to watch him.
What is the magic of your jodi?
We are great actors, that’s what I think. We have never sat to analyse what it is that makes it work. Maybe it’s the fact that we are friends, we are comfortable that we trust each other’s boundaries and we are on the same wavelength. Maybe that’s what works. I don’t know what it is, I can’t sit down and pin point at it really and say this works.
Tell us about Mandira.
Mandira is one very interesting character. I don’t know whether she’s that challenging. It wasn’t one of those things I had to think very hard about doing. It was quite easy for me. Karan did all his homework. Hence it was very very easy. But more than anything else, she’s just normal. She is a little battered, a little bruised, a little mad, a little cool, a little practical, a little sensible- she’s a little bit of everything. She’s not perfect and she doesn’t want to be either. That’s what I identify with her. There’s this innate strength about her that she is able to make a tough decision and back it up and stand behind it.
Did you meet people who deal with those suffering from Asperger’s?
Not at all, it wasn’t necessary for the character. She is one of those people who fell in love with this man. I don’t think she was supposed to be this person who had grown up with this kind of a disorder. That made it easier and more natural the relationship really between them.
What do you think about Bollywood’s trend about making mainstream cinema on disorders?
Well, we are going about it a little better than we did earlier. I also think that Indian cinema generally is reaching a very nice and very interesting stage for actors, because people are willing to take chances, make better cinema, risk a lot on something that is not a formula. That is what’s so great about being in this time, which is very interesting for us.
What do think about love in today’s cinema?
I don’t think they are concentrating too much on it really. It’s more physical now, more than love per say. The idea that one person is so special to you for unknown reasons is somehow slowly dying away. I believe that love doesn’t follow a pattern and does not follow logic and that’s why it’s called love. There are enough people in this world to prove us on that point. Yes, there are lot of people who would say love is about growing together and love is about logically finding the right person meant for you and matching yourself with that person. But I feel love should be that little bit illogical really.
Would a Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge work in today’s context?
Definitely. Everybody wants to see it and everyone wants to see it done well. No one wants it see it done shoddily, badly and with no definition. It has to have a definition; it has to have a good film to back it up. It’s the directors really who have lost the passion to believe in something not tangible really.
Long holiday post MNIK?
Definitely. Man, I am so tired it’s not funny. I think I’m really really exhausted. I’ve been just shooting one film after the other back to back and I’m tired.
And a million press interviews?
Yeah and sounding enthusiastic and looking enthusiastic is even more tiring.
With that we have to conclude the interview as Karan Johar, who has been giving press interviews in the other room, walks in and the two catch up over some coffee. Sadly, since Shah Rukh Khan was unwell, I did not get to speak with him, but I did hear that Rani Mukherjee has been spotted in the hotel. So close to my childhood dream of seeing Rahul, Anjali and Tina come true. Perhaps next time, for now I will just eagerly await to see My Name is Khan.