“My father has always been possessive and protective” Kajal Aggarwal

An actress par excellence, Kajal Aggarwal has appeared in numerous films in various languages—Telugu, Tamil and Hindi—and has made a name for herself as a vivacious, bubbly and talented young lady. In a span of over 16 years, Kajal has grown from a renowned name in the Telugu and Tamil film industry to a name to reckon with in Bollywood.

Over the past year, the newly married actress has had many firsts in her life. From the first time running a house to her first OTT release, Kajal spills the beans on her experiences and how life post the pandemic has been like.

They say a son is a son till he gets a wife, but a daughter is a daughter all her life. What are your thoughts on the saying?
I don’t think the saying stands true for everyone as every relationship is unique in its own way. My dad is a great son to my grandmom and my husband is a great son to my mother-in-law. So men who have wives have a lot more responsibility and accountability but they will always be wonderful sons to their mothers.

What’s your relationship with your father like?
I have a fabulous relationship with my father. He has always been extremely possessive and protective of me. But as we started growing older, our relationship turned from possessiveness and protectiveness, which although still exists, to a friendship with a lot of understanding. My father has always been a very active part of my life; he knows everything about me. I like keeping him involved in everything, including my work life, which keeps us closer and makes us interact daily.

Share a memory with your father that is forever etched in your mind.
There are many memories of my father that are special to me, but if I had to  choose, it would be those from our travels. My dad used to take my sister and me for many holidays during our childhood. We usually went up North... to Vaishnodevi, Amritsar, Shimla, Dalhousie, Kashmir and many other beautiful locations. Those will be the best memories that I will cherish all my life.

How do you celebrate Father’s Day? Anything special planned for this year?
Fathers Day this year happens to be on June 20th, a day after my birthday so we are doing a dinner on 19th to celebrate my birthday as well as bring in Father’s Day.

Tell us about what’s cooking on the professional front. What are your upcoming projects?
I’m currently shooting for Acharya with Chiranjeevi sir and am also starting my Tamil movie very soon. My Tamil movie called Ghosty is ready for release and I’m starting a Hindi movie called Uma very soon.

You’ve had two films release this year, amidst the pandemic. How was the response?
The pandemic made things very difficult this year and yes, I had two releases amidst the pandemic, the response of which weren’t as per our expectations. They were both meant to be theatrical releases but had to be released on OTT. While I’m happy about the response to my Hindi movie Mumbai Saga received, my Telugu movie Mosagallu didn’t garner the response we expected. It would have done much better if it released in the theatre.

You also made your debut in the OTT space with Live Telecast. How was the experience of working for OTT when compared to the theatrical cinema?
Yes, my OTT debut film Live Telecast released on Disney Hotstar this year. It was a great experience working on an OTT platform. The only difference between a theatrical film and an OTT film is that the roles you get to experiment with on the latter are not the conventional, mainstream cinematic ones that actors are usually offered. But besides that, the working style is pretty much the same.

You got married in an intimate wedding last year. Has life changed after marriage? If yes, how?
Life has definitely changed a lot after marriage! It has taught me responsibility. Simple things like running a home is new as I have never run a home before. But most importantly, it has taught me to balance my work and personal life. It has been quite challenging as I’m still very new to this, but well, it’s a work in progress (laughs).

How have you managed to stay positive during these unprecedented times?
These times have been difficult for all of us and it’s difficult to stay positive all the time in these unprecedented times. But I guess all we have to do is help each other, provide any sort of emotional comfort as well as mental help if required, suggest therapists for those in need and do things to stay positive. I have been working out, taken online courses and mainly sticking to my routine throughout the lockdown, which I feel is important. But what is of utmost importance is practising gratitude. It’s something we should all practice to stay positive always.

Have you picked up any new talents during the lockdown?
Yes, I have inculcated new hobbies like knitting, crochet, and painting. I have cooked and experimented a lot in the kitchen. On the work front, I have listened to stories, figured out creative things with my directors over zoom sessions, watched a lot of content, and meditated. During the previous lockdown I read the Bhagavad Gita and Srimad Bhagavatam; this time I have been reading a lot of books.

Another thing I have been doing is teaching my staff’s five-year-old son English during the lockdown. I teach him thrice a week and it is a great feeling to be teaching someone in need and spending my time productively.         

Rapid-fire:
What are you most comfortable wearing?

A cotton salwar kameez or jeans and a T-shirt. But at the moment I’m most comfortable in athleisure. It’s easy and comfortable to wear at home and for chores.
What’s your favourite cuisine?
Asian. I love Dimsums, Thai, Chinese and Indian food.
Your go-to holiday destination?
Bali, London and New York
Who’s your go-to person for any professional advice?
My mom; and a couple of friends I also do a lot of analysis.
What’s the one thing that makes you happy?
Spending time with family and friends
Is Kajal a spontaneous or calculative person?
Kajal is extremely spontaneous.
Name a movie that always lifts your spirits.
I love the movie Before Sunrise and Casablanca.
Who’s your favourite designer?
It has to be Anamika Khanna—I love her work. I also love Rahul Mishra. In western wear, I love Giambattista Valli and for streetwear I love Scotch & Soda.
Your all-time favourite book?
The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand and The 40 Rules of Love by Elif Shafaq.                -as told to Niharika