Kajal Aggarwal on doing films like MLA, Awe! — 'I’m in a space where I can pick and choose what I want to do'
Kajal Aggarwal surprised the audience with her character-driven roles in Nene Raju Nene Mantri and Awe!, only to return to hardcore commercial cinema in MLA
Eleven years and more than 50 films later, one might be compelled to wonder if Kajal Aggarwal has achieved everything she had set out to achieve. But if her recent choices are anything to go by, the actress has given clear indications that there is still a lot more than she wants to do.
First, it was an author-backed role in Nene Raju Nene Mantri, in which she rose above the pretty-actress image that has stuck to her for a good part of her decade. Then, earlier this year, she surprised everyone in Prasanth Varma’s Awe! in which she channelised her internal conflict more than anyone could have imagined. And just when we began to wonder if she is consciously looking for roles like these, the actress appeared in MLA, alongside Kalyanram, which was well within the realm of Telugu commercial cinema.
The more you talk to Kajal, the more it begins to make sense that she has become a tad more cautious about what she wants to do these days. “As an actor, I still love the commercial cinema space and the whole dance routine. But there’s a part of me which wants to experiment and be part of different films which fall in world cinema space. Awe! was one such film. I am also very keen on doing lot more of that, or similar genres, and films which lay more emphasis on my character. However, at the same time, I don’t want to completely cut off myself from commercial cinema space. As an actor, you have to be versatile and there’s still a big segment of people who enjoy commercial cinema,” Kajal explains while captivating your attention with her big eyes and a million dollar smile.
The question, however, is whether she is getting a wide range of choices to pick from. “I’m getting quite a few, to be honest. But, it’s a very risky space to be in. You gotta be careful. Just because someone has made an Awe! or Arjun Reddy doesn’t mean that you have to do everything in that space that comes your way. Sometimes, it’s okay to do a commercial film without thinking too much but when it comes to these other films, you have to be a lot more cautious because there’s so much more responsibility on your shoulders.”
Of late, however, there have been numerous rumours that she has been saying ‘no’ to quite a few big ticket films. “Yes, I guess. I don’t know if there is any other way to say this,” she laughs, adding, “I’m in a space where I can pick and choose what I want to do so I’m just doing what feels right for me. If I have to spend 60 days to do a film, I would rather choose a film which I’ll enjoy being part of. Otherwise, I’m more than happy to spend all my time with my nephew (Ishaan).”
For the past four months, life has completely changed for Kajal and her family. Her nephew Ishaan is the cynosure of all eyes and the moment his name comes up in the conversation, Kajal flashes his picture on her mobile phone. “He’s such a cutie pie! He’s babbling a lot these days and we are all enjoying that. I used to make fun of my friends when they were obsessed with their kids but I totally get it now. I’ve become an obsessed aunt, thanks to Ishaan (laughs),” Kajal adds.
That’s not all. A lot has changed in her professional life too. Recalling the first time she landed on the sets of her debut film, Teja’s Lakshmi Kalyanam, which also had Kalyanram in a lead role, Kajal says she was absolutely clueless about what to do. “Teja was very keen to shoot from 7 am onwards which means that I had to wake up at 4:30 am throughout the shoot of my first film. And I kept wondering who wakes up so early in the morning. That’s when most of us sleep (laughs). It wasn’t what I had signed up for. On top of it, I had to shoot for a song on the first day and I had never danced in front of the camera. And I didn’t undergo any training in classical dance either. The biggest challenge was to learn to pronounce the lyrics in the right manner. I didn’t know a word of Telugu back then. I’ve come a long way since then,” Kajal says. “Now, I’m a morning person. I can’t work late in the night.”
Ask her about her co-star Kalyanram, the actress is all praise for how much he has transformed over the years. “He was very reserved when we first met but now he has figured out his space. I really admire his humility, willingness to learn and adapt. I think he has a renewed sense of energy and passion for what he’s doing right now.”
Her social media presence has been quite dynamic, to say the least. Right from fashion to travel, the actress is on top of her game when it comes to sharing a part of her life on social networking platforms. Yet, at the same time, she insists that she is not trying to be quite different on the internet. “I like to keep my posts very real and I intend to keep them that way. I think I entertain people with whatever I have to share but at the same time, I don’t want to get affected by social media. I don’t read any comments (laughs),” she confesses.
And what about the pressure to look pitch perfect? Is that something which bothers her? “I don’t want to be perfect (smiles). I’m seeking improvement and growth in every area of my life. I am happy with the way I am. We gotta live with ourselves, right? So, we must have a clear conscience and be as righteous as you can,” Kajal signs off.
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