In this interview at the Red Chillies office, spitfire actress Kajol talks about her role in Dilwale and the reason why her chemistry on screen with SRK is smoother than her chemistry with husband Ajay Devgn. An NRI Achievers feature.

I feel quite ajeeb because both films have absolutely no connection at all whatsoever. DILWALE is not DDLJ Part 2. For the first time Rohit has directed a film with a strong romantic subject. It is an action comedy in which saris as well as cars fly.

How would you describe your chemistry with SRK ?
I think that SRK and I are the longest running jodi in the industry, as we had started working at an early age, nearly 20 years ago with BAAZIGAR. I do not have a repertoire compared to other leading ladies, as I am inclined to select only the right script. With the exception of KUCH KUCH HOTA HAI, I have not done a film for the sake of friendship or out of any pressure. I should like the role and have something to do in the film. We have never let our personal relationship come in the way of our work. I do not do a film just because Red Chillies is producing it.

Do you recollect the first time that you had met SRK ?
We were shooting a scene with Dalip Tahil on the first day I met SRK for BAAZIGAR.

Do you find any change in SRK in the last 20 years ?
I do find it amazing that there is absolutely no change in SRK, though I have become more lazy over the years. He still has the ability to do every film with the same josh and passion and wants to be the best in whatever he does. He tells Rohit Shetty that he can do a scene in four different ways but I tell him to go slow since it is already 12 midnight. Whether it was BAAZIGAR, DILWALE DUNIYA LE JAYENGE, HUM or KUCH KUCH HOTA HAI, MY NAME IS KHAN or K3G, he does every film with the same enthusiasm. I also prepare but it is very internal. I am very conscious. My USP as an actress is that I do not forget my lines and always remember my graph.

What is your role in DILWALE ?
I play Meera, a really cool chic who thinks from her heart and does not apply her brain. She is a heart-driven girl who will be in a different sari clad form. It is about my relationship with SRK and how we overcome the problems. I could easily relate to the role a lot as she is a lot like me.

What is the reason for your popularity ?
I would like to believe that it has to do a lot with my honesty. If you lie, the camera will catch it. My honesty has affected people. Today one’s off screen output has become so large that it affects one’s persona. On screen I have problems when it comes to overacting but in real life I do a lot of overacting. I am a voracious reader. I can image myself as a character or doing something which I have read. If I am with you, I am there 100%. If I am working on the sets, I am 100% working. I am 100% there at home with my kids. My mum has taught me that one’s work is work and life is life. My sense of humour is from my dad.

Why are you very choosy as an actress ?
I am fortunately in that stage financially where I do not have to work if I do not want to. It is therefore easier for me to make my choice. I wait for the right film. If I choose a film, I have to believe that it is the right film for me to justify my being away from my kids. That by itself is a huge pressure for me and I do not need the added pressure of anyone else’s opinion. I have fun doing all kinds of films. I like doing different roles. Each film brings its own challenges. I am bipolar and have a lot of mood swings.

What is your criterion for doing a film ?
I have never had issues working with anyone. I can work with anyone. It all depends on the script. I am not from that school of thought that I should do a film because I have not worked for over a year. I should want to do the film. With a good script I should have a good director and a good production house, not necessarily only women centric films.

How is it that your chemistry with SRK works more than that with Ajay Devgn ?
I have had a great time working with every co-star, whether it is Salman, Saif, Aamir. I have done six films each with Ajay and SRK. I have done romantic films with SRK but different kinds of films like HULCHUL, GOONDA RAAJ, U ME AUR HUM, RAJU CHACHA, DIL KYA KARE, with Ajay. If my films with Ajay didn’t click though they were fantastic films, its because we are husband and wife. I loved Ajay in DRISHYAM, THE LEGEND OF BHAGAT SINGH, ZAKHAM, HUM DIL DE CHUKE and U ME AUR HUM. Honestly I like him on screen. He is such a fine actor that I can’t point out faults. He carries every role off as an actor. The shot that he gives in a film may not be great but as an actor he has never faltered.

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The talented actor divulges how he has learnt a lot insofar as acting is concerned, working with Shah Rukh Khan and Kajol in DILWALE. Jyothi Venkatesh, our bollywood maven, brings you this interview with Varun for your reading pleasure …

How excited and happy were you when you bagged this offer to work with not just with SRK and Kajol but also Rohit Shetty so early in your career ?
I was excited and happy, but my happiness lasted only till I signed the film, because Rohit Shetty minced no words and very frankly told me to curb my excitement level once I was on the sets in front of the camera and behave as if Shah Rukh Khan was my elder brother in real life. I used to become hyper and couldn’t devote my time to each and every aspect of my films as an actor but after working with SRK, I learnt a lot.

How would you describe Shah Rukh Khan as a co-actor ?
The best thing I like about Shah Rukh is that he is so down to earth and takes time out for each and every person with whom he is working. After working with him in DILWALE and observing him at close quarters, now I know why so many people all over the world love him crazily. His passion for cinema is amazing and immense. I had absolutely no pressure at all when I faced the camera with him for DILWALE. I took it as a learning experience and cannot express the experience in words.

What did you learn from Kajol ?
I learnt a lot from Kajol too. She is a very honest actor, who does not tell a lie. Kajol does her homework before she comes to the sets and is a switch-on switch-off actor who is well prepared like a kid who does her homework thoroughly when she comes to his or her class in school.

To what extent would you give credit to Rohit Shetty for your performance in DILWALE ?
Why just Rohit Shetty, I would give 100% credit to each and every director of mine, whether it was Karan Johar in THE STUDENT OF THE YEAR, Shriram Raghavan in BADLAPUR, Remo Fernandez in ABCD 2, my own dad in MAIN TERA HERO, I should say I am lucky to have worked with the best of the directors, whether in the mainstream genre or the art film genre.

How was it working with Rohit Shetty for the first time ?
Rohit is cool and does not impose himself on his actors and lets them interpret the way he or she feels within the parameters of what exactly his vision is. What I like the best about Rohit is that he knows what the pulse of the audience is and loves kids and wants them to see his films and does not want the parents to be embarrassed when they bring their kids to watch his films.

Is it a conscious choice on your part to work with directors who knew their craft well ?
I confess it is a conscious choice to work with the best of the directors but frankly there was no time for me to think at all as after BADLAPUR, I was busy with ABCD 2 and after that with DILWALE. I consider myself a student till today and I feel that I will continue to be a student always though I have graduated from school after having acted in around 5 films till date.

You are good at comedy. How easy or tough is it to excel in comedy ?
Comedy is very difficult especially if you are pitted in the same frame as say Johny Lever and Sanjay Mishra are, like in DILWALE. Today it is even tougher to elicit laughter as the social media has a lot of jokes. In DILWALE, we have cracked jokes on how expensive it is for youth today to take a girl out on date, unlike in the past.

What is your criterion when you select a film ?
Because my dad is a director, I think more of directors when I sign a film, besides of course the banner. I also see whether the script can entertain all kinds of people. Today’s generation of cine-goers needs different concepts and their memory is very sharp. You cannot fool them by repeating yourselves ad nauseam as we are living in the reality era. I want to diversify as an actor but my priority will be to keep the budget of my films on check as I do not want my producers to lose their money.

How ambitious are you as an actor ?
I am not ambitious money-wise but as far as my passion for cinema is concerned, I feel bad when people abroad make fun of our films. Because I feel India is leading as far as films are concerned. I want to reach the top and be a superstar by doing good films. For us belonging to the younger generation, the Khans are like Mr Bachchan was to the earlier generation. The Khans are consistently on the top because they come up with super duper hits like BAJRANGI BHAIJAAN and HAPPY NEW YEAR.

Which biopic would you like to be a part of, like Farhan Akhtar was part of BHAAG MILKHA BHAAG on Milkha Singh?
I have not yet been approached to act in any biopic but I would like to do a biopic on my father because his contribution to the film industry is very vast, right from editing to direction.

What next ?
After DILWALE, I am keeping my fingers crossed for my films like DISHYOOM with John Abraham and my next with my mentor Karan Johar. It is not SHUDDHI but yet another dynamically different film from the stable of Dharma Productions.

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