Kajal Aggarwal interview: ‘My risk-taking appetite has reduced post Neil’ - Hindustan Times

Kajal Aggarwal interview: ‘My risk-taking appetite has reduced post Neil’

May 26, 2024 12:53 PM IST

In an exclusive chat with Hindustan Times, Kajal Aggarwal talks about Satyabhama, Indian 2, motherhood and what she’s looking forward to next.

She is full of energy and raring to go as she gets talking about her upcoming projects. Popular actor Kajal Aggarwal will be seen in the Telugu film Satyabhama and in Kamal Haasan’s Indian 2 soon. In the last few years, the talented actor has gotten married, had a baby and bagged some meaty movie projects to boot. Kajal has embraced motherhood beautifully and shown us how an a female actor can ace both her personal and professional life. (Also Read – Exclusive: After Akshay Kumar, Kajal Aggarwal set to join Vishnu Manchu’s Kannappa)

Kajal Aggarwal got married in 2020 and welcomed motherhood in 2022.
Kajal Aggarwal got married in 2020 and welcomed motherhood in 2022.

In this exclusive chat with Hindustan Times, Kajal Aggarwal talks about Satyabhama, Indian 2, motherhood and what she’s looking forward to next.

Satyabhama is your upcoming Telugu film where you play ACP Satyabhama. What did you love about this film and your role in particular?

I love the fact that Satyabhama is a very humane cop. It’s unlike the usual image or the misconception that we have that a cop is too fierce and where we consider police stations like a very hostile environment. We portrayed her in a very normal, humane manner. I like the fact that she's fierce and feisty, yet extremely vulnerable and emotional.

But you have played a cop earlier, right?

Yes, but not a serious cop. Those were mostly comedy roles. I love doing comedy, so the genre has not got anything to do with why this character, Satyabhama, impressed me. The character was very well written, hence it impressed me. And I just feel like this is a wholesome character. She could be a cop or she could be a corporate businesswoman or in any profession.

And you've got another biggie coming up, Indian 2 with Kamal Haasan and director Shankar. You started shooting right after childbirth.

I was offered the role four years ago. So, it’s not something new that I was dabbling with after childbirth; I knew that this was in the pipeline. It's just that I did not know that it would happen so soon in my postpartum journey. But this is how it is in our film industry. When things have to happen, they just do. And I was quite comfortable with doing that because, luckily, I had created an infrastructure around me with a lot of parental support, in-law support, and family support to help me. My husband, most importantly, also helped me so I could go and complete the film that I really wanted to be a part of.

Kajal Aggarwal plays a cop in Satyabhama
Kajal Aggarwal plays a cop in Satyabhama

You had said that shooting was tough right after childbirth, but Shankar really helped you out and even others on sets were supportive.

Everyone was extremely supportive! Neil wasn’t on sets but used to come to the same city as me, be it in Tirupati or Chennai where we were shooting or till date, he’s with me wherever I go. I'm in Hyderabad at the moment, so he's here with me. But I did not take him to my film set because it wasn't a very comfortable environment. Of course, he was a newborn back then and I didn't want him to get any sort of infections, etc. I like to keep my child away from my work because he's too young. He does not really understand how it is and there's just really no need for so much exposure at a very young age.

What was the highlight of doing Indian 2 with Kamal Haasan and Shankar?

I think you just answered your question. Working with Kamal sir and Shankar sir is definitely the highlight. Apart from a phenomenally written role. It's a very special role and it encompasses the age from a young girl to a proper woman, like a senior lady. So, the entire gamut of it and showcasing this aspect with the prosthetics and the makeup, made it very exciting and very challenging.

Were you nervous working with Kamal Haasan?

He did not give me that chance. He made sure that things were very comfortable. He was very sweet and very understanding about everything and he just ensured that everyone was very comfortable.

Did you have to do homework for your role in Indian 2?

Yes, I was actually working on the film for the past four years. I was doing a lot of Kalaraipayattu (martial arts from Kerala) and horse-riding. The movie is pre-Independence, so obviously. I'm not sure how much I can reveal, so I'm just going to keep it basic. We'll talk about Indian 2 when we get to the promotion of Indian 2. It was very challenging with the terrains and with the amount of physical activity that was required for this film. Luckily, it helped me for my latest movie, Satyabhama, as well. It was an incredible experience to do it all.

Kajal Aggarwal with Kamal Haasan and Shankar at the mahurat of Indian 2
Kajal Aggarwal with Kamal Haasan and Shankar at the mahurat of Indian 2

A decade ago, when a female actor got married and had a child, the industry wouldn’t really offer her meaty roles. Has that changed now?

I would not be the best person to judge the difference because I did not have a child 10 years ago. But yes, I am fortunate that I'm still getting author-backed roles and phenomenal roles with very good people to work with. So, it's a great space to be. Like you said, marriage or being a mum is thankfully not a hindrance in any profession. I feel that even the film industry has become very understanding about childbirth or the requirement for a ‘maternity leave’. All these things have become very normal in my industry as well and that's a great space to be in.

Do you see a marked difference in the kind of work you were doing before the birth of Neil and after?

Yes, I have. That's also because of my own desire to do meatier roles in the limited amount of time that I now have. I do not want to take up eight, nine movies a year like how I used to do earlier – I’d rather focus on four good films a year. So, the priority from my end has changed. I think your vibe really attracts the kind of roles or the kind of people that you want to work with.

Family is obviously your first priority but as your child grows older, does it give more flexibility in terms of work?

I actually feel it's the other way around because the older they grow, the more they need their mum. It was easier when he was an infant versus when he's a toddler. But the positive side to this is that he's a lot more understanding. Neil knows mama goes to work. You can communicate with him and he understands and he communicates back.

How much has motherhood changed you?

A lot. My perspective towards everything has changed. My risk-taking appetite has reduced considerably. I want to be more cautious and play it safe for now because it's not about me anymore. I was always responsible but now I feel a lot more responsible for not just myself, but my baby and my family. I've become a lot more patient. I was always patient but now even more! It’s like your heart is working outside of your body. You just want the world to be a nicer place and hence you will be a nicer person.

OTT also now offers more opportunities and you’ve done a web series as well.

If I get something really exciting on OTT, of course. I mean, it's already the way to go. It’s a lot more exposure and there are so many different genres to explore. You can take bigger risks on OTT, in my opinion, than you can take on the silver screen. But acting is basically acting at the end of the day and it's my first love so of course I would want to experiment. Language has never been a barrier, so why should the medium of showcasing your work be a barrier? It's pretty much the same.

Kajal Aggarwal in Disney+ Hotstar series Live Telecast
Kajal Aggarwal in Disney+ Hotstar series Live Telecast

What are the kind of roles you're looking forward to now?

I'd love to do things that I haven't done before but I am open to impactful, positive roles that can actually make a difference. Roles that challenge me and challenge me in a different way. I think that would be more exciting at this phase of my life. Films that I get excited about and I feel are worth my time and energy.

Who are some of the new, younger directors you’d like to work with?

There are so many directors whose work I like… I really want to work with Lokesh Kanagaraj. And Telugu directors Vekatesh Maha (C/o Kancharapalem and Uma Maheswara Ugra Roopasya); Sandeep Raj (Color Photo) and Arjun VK.

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