As Naan Magaan Alla hits the screens today, Kajal Aggarwal opens up on a slew of topics — from films to friends
Kajal Aggarwal's cool demeanour doesn't melt so easily. Throughout the interview, between frenzied takes for a Telugu film, she chuckles. As if life was one big laugh-a-thon. The actor, who entered films in 2004, never had it so good. Her diary is crammed with shooting schedules and releases. As Naan Magaan Alla hits the screens on Friday, the Suseendran-directed film is naturally the starting point of the conversation.
“It's been quite a while since my last outing in Kollywood (director Saran's Modhi Vilaiyadu). Telugu films have been keeping me busy. When I was approached for Naan Magaan Alla, I simply jumped at the opportunity because I was impressed with the script and liked the idea of working with a director who had won critical acclaim for his debut film (Vennila Kabadi Kuzhu) itself. I re-jigged my shooting schedules in Hyderabad to do NMA,” says the Mumbai-based svelte actor, with whom success played hide-and-seek at the box office till Krishna Vamsi's Chandamama happened.
Having tossed around some acting chops in Kollywood releases such as Bommalattam, Pazhani and Modhi Vilaiyadu, Kajal is hopeful that NMA will make a big difference to her career. “It's a small, yet substantial role in a hero-centric subject. I play the girl-next-door who provides the romantic interludes in the part-action, part-comic film. Apart from the director who is so expressive when it comes to his subjects, it was a pleasure to work with the livewire Karthi.”
In a year teeming with dates in Tollywood, Kajal discloses she has interesting projects coming up in Tamil as well. “I'm reading plenty of scripts in Tamil. Two films are in the pipeline. I've got four in Telugu. Brindavanam is scheduled for release in October. I'm doing director Dharani's film Merupu too, besides projects with top stars Nag Chaitanya and Prabhas.”
Part of the South's North haul, Kajal sounds confident when questioned about her comfort level in handling regional languages. “Actually, in all these years, language has never been a barrier. Despite not knowing regional languages, I've been able to perform, thanks to my directors, assistant directors and co-stars. Cinema is about expressions — and I think you can get the nuances right if someone explains the script/dialogue effectively to you. It might sound funny, but there were instances when my directors did not know Hindi or English to communicate with me. But somehow, we managed,” she jests. “Though I haven't picked up Tamil yet, I'm quite familiar with Telugu because of the sheer number of films I've done in that language.”
Kajal, who entered films at a young age, believes hard work is the key to success. “I've been working back-to-back ever since Chandamama happened. I know only the best can survive in a competitive industry. So all the frills that are associated with youth can wait.”
The Mass Communication student from Mumbai, says Marketing — with a special emphasis on branding — is her favourite subject now. “Somewhere down the line, I hope to find time to do MBA,” smiles the actor, who loves taking short breaks between Kollywood and Tollywood schedules, to be with family and friends in Mumbai. “They are my anchors. They keep me grounded. Otherwise, the tinsel world can drive you crazy. As an actor, you carry a baggage. Dampening reviews and gossip columns are part of the game. With time, you learn to take things in your stride. In life, you lose some, gain some. I think I've gained much more than I expected in my five-year tryst with the tinsel world.”
A film is a director's vision, so I go by his instructions. If I'm given the creative space, I do try to improvise.
No, I'm not that keen. There have been offers, but I'm choosy. I don't want to do Hindi films just for the sake of the Bollywood aura.
I like the flamboyance and larger-than-life portrayals of Telugu cinema. I like the on-screen grandeur. It's so different from what I am in person. Having said that, I do relate to the dark overtones of realistic cinema as well.
Reading and adventure sport. Ayn Rand is my all-time favourite.