by ASJAD NAZIR

KAJOL’S PRAYERS ARE ANSWERED WITH A NEW DREAM ROLE.

IT IS extra special when a film starring Kajol is released because the massively popular A  list star is very selective about the projects she chooses to do.

That is why there is great excitement about her return to the big screen in hotly-anticipated film Helicopter Eela, which revolves around a devoted mother who makes sacrifices for her son and comes to a crossroads in her life when he grows up.

As someone who made parenthood a priority over films, Kajol related to the comedy-drama
and immersed herself into the film produced by her husband Ajay Devgn.

Eastern Eye caught up with Kajol to talk about Helicopter Eela, motherhood, charity
work and her biggest hero.

Motherhood is supposed to be stressful, but you are getting more gorgeous as you are growing older. What is your secret?
(Laughs) The secret is that I am a mum. I better be on my A-game at all times, because if I am not I am sure my children will take absolute advantage of it. But honestly speaking, if we are talking about Helicopter Eela, it is about a woman who has a coming-of-age moment when she realises that being a mom is just not the only thing in her life and she has to find out who she is and where she lost her identity. That is what Helicopter Eela is about.

I think as you grow older and your children grow up, a little bit every mother realises that there has to be something more.

What do you mean?
There have to be more job descriptions added to your name besides mother, daughter and, you know, wife. There has to be more to that to make up who you are and your entire identity.

You are the pickiest A-list actress in the industry. What did this film have for you to say yes?
The movie was so relatable and the script was really good. It was a superb idea and most important what I loved about the movie is that it had so much humour in it. I liked that the film is not so much slapstick humour as it is situational comedy. It is a funny situation for people to be in. I also loved the relationship between the mother and the son. I could see it being something everyone could identify with.

How many parallels are there between you and the character?
There are plenty. Not as much as Helicopter Eela, but definitely up to a certain extent. I think every mother is possessive and obsessive about her children. Mothers believe that ‘my children are the best looking, smartest, coolest and if you say one word against them you better watch out as I will be tearing you apart’. So I think every mother has an Eela inside her and yes, she is a little more obvious than I would be, probably. A little more obsessive than I would be, but I think she is very relatable.

Kajol with her husband Ajay, daughter Nysa and son Yug

Everyone sees you as a big star, but you are also a technically-gifted actress. Has your approach changed over the years?
Thank you so much for asking me that, Asjad, because it has changed. I was never a very technical actor. It actually changed in a very weird way during the movie We Are Family, where I realised the time has come to change as actors; we can’t be stylised any more. We have to be actors and don’t have a choice in the matter. We have to unlearn everything we thought before or could manage earlier or get away with.

I realised you can’t escape that today and have to relearn a different form and method, which is a lot more natural.

You helped bring girl power into Hindi cinema, so you must be happy that films like Helicopter Eela are getting made today?
I am very happy about it and thankful to the audiences more than anything for changing their minds and opening up their ideologies to accept different kinds of films. We now have various female-driven films doing well and lots of other subjects. It is not only about a hero, a villain, a romantic angle and the action any more.

We have murder mysteries, thrillers, horror and many more, which have done well in their particular genre. Suddenly, so many people are willing to sit and pay a particular amount to see this film, which is a necessary aspect for all of these movies to be made. I don’t know whether anyone understands that part about it or accepts the economics of filmmaking.

You are brilliant when you do comedy and are doing it again with Helicopter Eela, but do you find it easy as a genre?
I don’t. I remember Johnny (Lever) bhai telling me this a long time ago that ‘it is much easier to make someone cry on screen than it is to make them laugh’. I never understood it completely till I realised that it is bang on true.

It is just so difficult to make people laugh. There are some superb actors who can make you do both. They are people who you cry for and ones you laugh with. That is something I aim towards and who I want to be.

Most girls, when they are younger, don’t want to be like their mothers, but turn into them eventually. When did you turn into your mother?
It started a long time ago. I idolised my mother (actress Tanuja). I thought she was a rock star and still is. She is absolutely amazing. If I have to say anyone has super powers then it is my mother because she brought me up. (Laughs).

I am grateful that eventually I will become like her. I hope that I can achieve everything she has through her life.

Kajol with mother Tanuja

What quality do you have that is the most similar to your legendary mother Tanuja?
My mother and I are both honest in our work. We both have the same work ethic. We also have the same attitude towards work and life.

Do you think mothers are under pressure to be the bad cop disciplinarian, while fathers play the good cop. Is that the case with you?
I am definitely the bad cop, there are no two ways about it. Recently I think my husband has decided to share that bad cop responsibility with me a little bit.

Generally we have our roles to play – that I am the bad cop and he is the good one, but nowadays, sometimes it is the other way around, which I am really enjoying. (Laughs). I have to say that I am getting more brownie points now than I was earlier.

The other really motherly thing you have done that I admire is your charity work with children. Tell me how important is that to you?
Thank you so much for saying that. Social responsibility is something that I feel should be taught in school, which is not, and we as adults come into it much later in life.

You need to grow up to a point to accept the fact that you should have a social responsibility. That is something my mother taught us from the time we were kids, where we used to go around our entire building and collect money for charities like Save The Children.

Tell us more about that?
So, every six months we would be sent to flats in our building to collect money for charities. As kids our mother taught us this and also did this on her own. She sponsored children and their education. We learned from her example.

That is something I hope my children learn from me. That is something I wish we were taught on a broader basis. It shouldn’t be selective and you know, niche. It should be something that is inculcated into our children with subjects like science, maths and geography.

The expectations we have of you are higher than other leading ladies in the industry, does that put pressure on you?
(Laughs). Not at all. I am gonna beat them hollow.

Do you have any dream role that you haven’t played yet?
Honestly there isn’t, because I don’t think that it helps when you dream of a particular kind of character to play. If I found that mind-blowing character and had a crap script I would be thoroughly disappointed and wouldn’t know what to do with it.

I hope, pray and dream about fantastic scripts coming to me that I know I can transform and make amazing characters out of.

Apart from being a mother, you are a great actress and also a powerful role model. What advice would you give young girls starting out on their respective journeys in life?
One advice I would give, which I see so rampant in society, is that please don’t identify yourself by your size, gender, colour or race.

Each human being is unique, wonderful and is impossible to replace.

  • Helicopter Eela is in cinemas now.

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