It’s been ‘just casual’ for Kajol

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It’s been ‘just casual’ for Kajol

Post the hysteria that was DDLJ, Kajol has been quite picky with the roles she accepts. After all, acting is just a part of her life, not her reason for being


Khalid Mohamed

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Published: Fri 15 May 2015, 2:37 PM

Last updated: Sun 26 Jul 2015, 3:54 PM

UNDENIABLE CHEMISTRY: Shah Rukh Khan and Kajol have always been the match-&made-in-Bollywood-heaven pair
Nope, you can’t call it a comeback. Although, she’s been missing from action for five years, she has always been a presence in the media, fetching up of &late at quite a few fashion events. And, of course, she made a widely watched appearance on television when her iconic romantic film, Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge, completed a record-breaking, uninterrupted run of 1,000 weeks at Mumbai’s Maratha Mandir auditorium.
Kajol has appeared and disappeared from the screen for years, but has never been forgotten. Now, at 40, the mother of two kids — Nysa and Yug — has been confirmed for Dilwale (not too original a title), a comedy drama directed by the rabidly formulaic director Rohit Shetty. She was last seen in the eminently forgettable We Are Family, an Indian spin on Hollywood’s Stepmom. She was cast as the terminally ill housewife, originally played by Susan Sarandon, while &Kareena Kapoor attempted feebly to step into Julia Roberts’ high heels. Result: sheer embarrassment.
Yet, We are Family didn’t, in any way, dent Kajol’s credentials as one of Bollywood’s finest actresses. On the contrary, what followed were news reports about her teaming up with the ad filmmaker Ram Madhwani for the remake of the Danish TV series Penoza, revolving around a widow who has to take charge of her husband’s underworld business. Reportedly, the actress asked for a fee that wasn’t affordable.
Strange that, since Kajol hasn’t ever prioritised money. Indeed, the late Bengali auteur Rituparno Ghosh had told me that he had once asked her if she would act in his shoestring budget film, and she had agreed right away. “But I was so overwhelmed that I couldn’t believe my ears,” Ghosh had said, adding, “I didn’t follow this up, actually. After all, she could have been joking.”
Joking? Not really. From what I know of her, she doesn’t take her career lightly. To a degree, initially, the daughter of yesteryear’s charming heroine, Tanuja, and Shomu Mukherjee was startled by the stardom sparked by the Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge hysteria. When a group of teen girl fans once screamed out loud when the actress answered her doorbell herself, she’d sighed, “Is that adulation for me or for Simran, the girl I played in the film?” She concluded that “those girls just couldn’t see the difference between reality and the imaginary”.

PICKING HER PLOTS: (clockwise from right) Kajol with her now real life husband Ajay Devgn in Pyaar To Hona Hi Tha from 1998; an award-winning role as Mandira opposite SRK in My Name is Khan; a strong performance in the otherwise forgettable We Are Family; in Karan Johar’s Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham; with Ajay Devgn in U Me Aur Hum; and, of course, the massively successful DDLJ
Given to reading thick paperbacks of fantasy fiction copiously, Kajol has been one of the few actresses who haven’t been obsessive and competitive about career. Easy come, easy go. And surprisingly, this attitude has served her well. Endowed with a strong screen presence, her performances have been strikingly spontaneous, even in duds like her debut-making Bekhudi, the excessively melodramatic &Udhaar ki Zindagi, the B-grade actioner Gundaraj, and the Ajay Devgn-directed U Me Aur Hum, in which she portrayed an Alzheimer’s patient. Such films and a few more were panned, but she was always singled out as the redeeming factor.
Fiercely vocal about Ajay Devgn’s skills as an actor, she had objected vociferously when I had issues with his performance in Main Aisa Hi Hoon, a remake of I Am Sam portraying a mentally challenged adult, essayed in the original by Sean Penn. “There are vested interests behind your &review,” she had yelled over the phone. When I asked her to specify these ‘vested interests’, she had said cryptically, “You know who they are.” To date, I’m still trying to figure out her uncalled-for outburst.
Like it or not, with her real-life husband, at best, the chemistry has been intermittently effective (as in Pyaar To Hona Hi Tha). In the public mind though, Kajol and Shah Rukh Khan have been enshrined as the made-for-each-other couple.
Over the years, there has been no love lost between Devgn and Shah Rukh Khan. Gratifyingly though, the acrimony hasn’t prevented Kajol from teaming up once again with Khan in Dilwale, after My Name is Khan. Perhaps the chemistry between Khan and Kajol continues to overwhelm, because she cannot be superceded, never mind the relatively briefer footage allocated to her (case in point: Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham). Give her even a couple of meaty scenes, and she makes a virtual banquet out of them.
Today, she appears to be more people-friendly, fashion-conscious and media-savvy than she was in her prime. It goes without saying that she could be seen in many more films but has chosen to be stubbornly picky. But then that’s her: acting is just a part of her life, not her raison d’etre.  

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