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Thursday, September 28, 2023

Kajol: “I Do Not Wish To Choose Projects Which Are Expected Of Me”

Kajol needs no introduction as her name is enough to attract audiences to the cinema.

Hailing from a prestigious family lineage and married to a popular Bollywood actor, she has been highly successful and for over 20 years, she continues to impress us with her calibre as an actor.

After a hiatus, the 45-year-old actor has been occupied with an array of projects, in which we are expecting to see her in completely different avatars.

Kick-starting the forthcoming year, the actor will be seen in her first grandeur historical drama, in which she plays the doting and supportive wife of a Maratha warrior.

In a special interview with Filme Shilmy, Kajol opens up on Tanhaji: The Unsung Warrior and her current career phase.

It seems like 2020 to be your year as you have Tanhaji, Tribhanga and Niranjan Iyenger’s short film in the pipeline. After a while, how does it feel to have your hands full with back-to-back projects?

My god, I’ve worked hard haven’t I? (laughs) Yes, there are quite a few films coming up.

Fortunately, all of them have been done pretty quickly and I’m happy that I will be okay this year.

Tanhaji is your first historical drama and we’ve always wanted to see you in one. Besides it being a home production, What piqued your attention with this in particular?

I honestly loved the character and to be a part of this kind of film was something that I really wanted because I knew it would be made on this scale as well as what the movie is about.

My character is really meaty, I won’t go into too many details about it because I really want you to watch the film.

But I really think that my role has something to say. She is not only there to decorate the big screen.

In a film, I feel you need all your main characters to have very strong roles otherwise somewhere down the line, the movie lacks.

You feel that there will be something missing in the overall film or the director’s touch if he/she doesn’t smooth off or round-out the characters properly.

Playing historical characters like Savitri Malusare is tough due to no obvious reference points. What awoke the Maratha warrior wife in you?

To be very honest, I like the fact that it was the wife of a Maratha warrior.

Plus, I loved the fact that I had to wear a Nauwari sari and get into the whole Maharashtrian look. I really liked that part of it.

Before we started the film, I was a little apprehensive because I wasn’t sure whether I would be able to exude the traditional look, as I’m pretty much modern in my body language and speech.

Like I’m so comfortable in my trousers, I wasn’t sure I would be able to convince you that wearing a Sari is a natural phenomenon for me (laughs).

I think I’ve managed it quite nicely… I believe this after seeing rushes of the film, it’s difficult and one isn’t sure about what they are doing.

More than anything, one has to convince themselves that what they’re doing is the right thing. That’s the important part of it.

Given that there are so many lesser-known Bravehearts like Tanhaji in Indian history, how important is it to present such narratives through cinema?

That’s why we’ve chosen to make the film because Tanhaji is a footnote. He is a paragraph in the chapter of Shivaji in the textbook that we have in school.

Nobody really knows exactly how important he was in the sacrifices he made to take that fort, etc. We know it as oral history, but our children are not taught that.

I feel that’s one aspect which was in favour of us making the movie. It’s not a very well-known story.

It’s a well-known oral story, but not a well-known written story. Even my kids don’t know who Tanhaji is.

When you watch the movie, you will understand how epic he was and how important he was.

Your last venture Helicopter Eela didn’t do as well as one would’ve hoped it would. Since that film, how valuable has your time been reflecting and reinventing?

Honestly, I don’t do too much of that.

I have an idea about where I want to go and what I want to do, but I don’t spend too much time on the reflecting side of it.

But I think one has to reinvent themselves every day and in a weird way unlearn everything that has been learnt before because the change is so rapid.

Each day, there is something new and different which needs to be learnt.

We are literally living in an age where the information overload is so much, it can drown you if you’re not careful.

Tribhanga marks your digital debut and promises to be a heart-warming tale on a family. What can we expect from you in this and how different will your avatar be?

I can’t talk much about it right now because I’ve signed an NDA (laughs). But we wrapped up the shoot a few days back and are really happy about with each other.

We’re all feeling the love right now.

You’ve explored a plethora of roles – whether it’s romance, drama, thrillers, historical films, what style of movies will you be most keen in doing henceforth?

I definitely want to do things I’ve not done before.

I don’t want to do run-of-the-mill things, I want to something that will definitely surprise you and that is unexpected.

So I do not wish to choose projects which are expected of me.

I’m hoping that in the next year, there will be things which you’ll like and scare the pants off you again! (laughs)

Listen to the Kajol interview here:


Tanhaji Malusare was an unsung warrior from the 17th century. His acts of valour and bravery continued to inspire soldiers long after he lost his life in battle.

Endowed with a body of steel, the courage of a lion and an agile mind, Tanhaji was also one of Chattrapati Shivaji’s closest aides and trusted lieutenants.

Ready to lay down his life for his King and country, this braveheart planned a surgical strike to get back the Kondana Fort against the Mughal army headed by Udaybhan.

When the fort of Kondhana, that was the pride of the Marathas was under the control of Udaybhan and a Mughal army, Tanhaji went to war armed only with a handful of Marathas. 

If the Mughals had the muscle power, Tanhaji had sharp acumen.

The only unfortunate thing is–the Marathas won Kondhana but they lost their Lion. Tanhaji left behind a void that none in history could ever fill.

Tanhaji: The Unsung Warrior is a visual extravaganza that depicts the life and times of this unsung warrior, whose valour still makes the Nation proud.

It releases on 10th January 2020.

Anuj Radia
Journalist and film enthusiast.

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