'Ajay Devgn is very serious, Akshay Kumar is lively'
After tasting success in her first Bollywood film Singham, popular south Indian actress Kajal Aggarwal is ready for her next Hindi venture opposite Akshay Kumar, Special Chabbis, directed by Neeraj Pandey of A Wednesday fame.
The film will release on February 8.
Kajal talks to Sonil Dedhia about the film, and her Bollywood plans.
The New Year has begun very well for you. Your Telugu film Naayak opposite Ram Charan Teja has really done well at the box office.
Yes. People loved the film and it's a big success. I am really happy that 2013 has started on a positive note. I couldn't have asked for a better start to the year and I hope it continues throughout this year when all my films do really well.
The styling of your character in Special Chabbis looks similar to Singham. In both you play a very 'Indian' character. What about playing a glamorous character?
I play the role of a middle class schoolteacher in the film who is very fun loving and jovial. I would say it's a relatable character rather than saying that it is an earthy character.
When people watch the movie, they will take my character as their daughter or sister or girlfriend.
Since the film is set in the late 1980s, I can't be seen prancing around in shorts or skirts.
Image: Kajal Aggarwal
'I still have a long way to go'
So can we see you fitting into the conventional Bollywood actress zone, of glamour and item numbers?
You will definitely see me as a conventional Bollywood actress. When it comes to item numbers, with all due respect to the actresses who do it, who look great and I love to see them, right now I wouldn't want to do that.
I feel an item number attracts the audience and if you are not well known to the audience, there is no point doing it. It's too early for me to do it. Kareena Kapoor and Priyanka Chopra look amazing doing an item number and have a massive fan following. I go and watch them on the big screen.
A lot of actresses from the south make dream debuts and then disappear. Are you here to stay?
I have just started my career in Bollywood and I still have a long way to go. As long as I am doing a good role and I am satisfied with my work, it doesn't matter what the look is in the film.
People will notice and appreciate the performance regardless of how I am presented. Obviously, I can't look terrible.
I got fabulous reviews for my character in Singham so I am very happy with it. I would love to do versatile characters and also those that are glamorous.
Image: Kajal aggarwal in Naayak
'I can't take the onus of Singham's success on my shoulders'
No, I don't think so. During Singham and Special Chabbis, I was given a clear picture of what my character would be even before I signed them.
You are right when you say that the male brigade is the driving force of the films, and I do have a limited role in Special Chabbis, but that doesn't mean I have limited scope in it.
So how much of Singham's success would you attribute to yourself?
I think the success of a film depends on team work. I was lucky enough to debut and be a part of a successful and fabulous film in Singham.
I can't take the onus of the film's success on my shoulders.
Image: Kajal Aggarwal in Singham
'Hindi films were not on my agenda'
You have been doing films down south for the past six years. What took you so long to do a Hindi film?
When I signed Singham, I already had eight films on hand down south. I couldn't have ditched them. I had to respect my commitments.
I have never seen language as a barrier in terms of doing films. I was born and brought up in Mumbai and I am very comfortable speaking Hindi, but at the same time I have enjoyed doing films in Telugu and Tamil. I guess it takes time to warm up to a new industry.
I would love to do more films in Hindi and do versatile roles just the way I have done down south. Of course, I will now try and create a balance by juggling between Hindi and south films.
Compared to the industry down south, Bollywood is much bolder and more glamorous. How do you plan to keep up with it?
I graduated as a Mass Media student and never imagined becoming an actor. I wanted to do MBA, work for a multi-national company and earn a rocking salary (smiles).
But, suddenly, acting happened and I just went with the flow. Today, when I look back, I don't have any regrets becoming an actor.
I never had a strategy for doing films. Hindi films were not on my agenda when I was doing films down south as I was very satisfied with my work.
Now, when I have done two Hindi films, I am hoping that I get more films and I am able to display my talent in a new industry.
Image: Kajal Aggarwal in Telugu film Naayak
'I am more instinctive when it comes to choosing my roles'
No, maybe because I am too lazy (laughs). I am more instinctive when it comes to choosing my roles. I know I should do it as every other actor does it, but I think my instinctive nature sets me apart from the rest.
Asin has been quoted saying that a multi-starrer film is better for her because it helps her reach a wider audience and helps her get a hold in the industry. Do you agree?
I guess Asin's philosophy works for her just like every actor's philosophy works for that actor.
What works for me is that I don't have any philosophy. I just go with the flow and it has worked for me.
To a certain extent, Asin is right as multi-starrers do have a wider reach and will give you more visibility. On the other hand, I think if you are the only actress in the film, you are noticed even more.
Image: Kajal Aggarwal in Naayak
'I didn't want to do a Hindi film just for the sake of it'
Between a small role in a multi-starrer and an author-backed significant role in a small budget film, what would you choose?
Can I do both? I am greedy so I will try to do both (laughs).
If I have to choose between the two, I will look at the story and then decide.
Was Singham the first Hindi film that was offered to you?
Films were offered to me before, but I didn't want to do a Hindi film just for the sake of it.
I think if I am doing something I wanted to do for the right reasons. I wanted to do a good film and when Singham came to me I was really happy with it. I had seen the original film and I really loved it.
How different is the working style of Hindi films as compared to the industry in the south?
The south industry is very disciplined and punctual. I heard it was the contrary for Hindi films. But so far I have done two films and my experience has been great.
I have never faced what I have heard about the working style of working of Hindi films. So as of now, both the industries stand on par for me.
Image: Kajal Aggarwal
'Working with Ajay and Akshay was an enjoyable experience'
Ajay is more serious and Akshay is very lively but both of them are extremely professional and are passionate about their jobs.
They are very dedicated and hard working. Akshay is more spontaneous and extrovert and Ajay is an intense and introvert actor.
Working with them was a very enjoyable experience.
You are juggling between the two industries. Is there any unlearning and relearning that you need to do to fit in?
It completely depends on the director. With Neeraj (Pandey), I had to do a lot of unlearning because in the south we believe in exaggerating a little.
Neeraj is dead against exaggeration. He didn't want me to act, he wanted me to behave and be natural.
With Rohit (Shetty), films are commercial entertainers with a brilliant sense of humour, so I didn't have to unlearn anything.
Image: Kajal Aggarwal in Special Chabbis
'I do a lot of adventure sports'
You have also started writing a travel blog. Any plans to publish a book?
No, I don't have any plans to publish a book on travel or become an author (laughs).
I enjoy travelling and writing a travel blog in whatever limited capacity I can.
I just believe in doing different things. I do a lot of adventure sports. I have written as a freelance travel author for a magazine and one of the pieces got published.
Image: Kajal Aggarwal in Telugu film Businessman