Kajal Agarwal’s latest film Awe in Telugu is garnering Awe-some reports. In an interview with Subhash K Jha the pretty talented Aggarwal speaks on women coming forward in Indian cinema to make their presence felt.
Congratulations , your performance in Awe is being raved about?
Isn’t that something! All of us worked so hard on the film and to be praised for our hard work…what more can one ask for?I am not going to pretend, I am very happy.
Significantly the female actors lead the cast in Awe.Do we see a break in the patriarchal system of functioning in the South Indian cinema where prominent actresses like you had to play secondary roles to leading men twice your age?
I don’t think I was ever a victim of that. With the exception of maybe one film all my co-stars have been my own age. Having said that, I must admit that there is a shift in gender equation in our films. Many young directors are coming forward with fresh innovative ideas that do not adhere to gender biases. I love to work with young enthusiastic directors. They know the future of Indian cinema.
I fully support films like Awe and Arjun Reddy and would love to be part of such films in the future.
The interesting thing about your character your character in Awe is that she is not psychologically stable ?
Yesssss, my character Kali is not mentally stable. She is distanced from reality. Before playing her I consulted a psychologist inMumbai who provided me with invaluable inputs. I read up a lot on mental disorders…What I discovered was that mentally disturbed people appear so normal on the surface.And mental ailments are just not taken seriously in our country. They are allowed to go undetected in an individual, sometimes to his or her death or worse, to other people’s death, as we saw most recently in the Florida mass killing.
Is it important for you to play roles that are morally correct to you?
Yes,I will play only those roles that are morally correct to me.The way things are in the country and the rest of the world I don’t want to send out wrong signals to people out there. So no, I won’t play negative roles or roles that I believe would’ve a detrimental impact on society.With success comes responsibility .
So do you pick roles with a social relevance?
Not necessarily. My next release MLA in Telugu is an out-and-out entertainer. I believe my primary responsibility to my audience is to entertain them. The movie-going experience has become extremely prohibitive for the audience . I remember as a child my parents would take my sister and I to the movies every Sunday. It was a treat that we looked forward to. Now with the ticket prices being what they are , families can afford a film only once every two months. The future of cinema lies on Amazon, Netflix and other web productions.
How important is it for you to relate to the characters you play?
It is important . But the challenge lies in doing characters we don’t know. The girl in Awe is someone is someone I don’t connect with at all. But I know such psychologically disturbed people do exist. Similarly in the last Hindi film that I did Do Labzoon KiKahani I played a blind girl. Though she was disabled she was a happy person full of life and longings. I liked that.The best thing about acting is, you get to explore areas of the human experience that you may not have access to?
How important is it for you to remain grounded?
Very important. That’s why I need friends from outside the entertainment industry. It is important to have friends outside your workplace. Most of my close friends are from outside the film industry. They don’t hesitate in letting me know the truth even if it hurts me.
What about that special someone in your life? Are you apprehensive that a relationship may affect your career?
Not at all. I am totally open to a relationship and will welcome it whenever it comes in my life. My younger sister is happily married.So like all concerned parents, my parents too want me to find Mr Right.
Maybe there is a problem that successful actresses face . You meet fans rather than friends?
That , I admit, is a problem. I just don’t get to meet enough men outside the film industry.
While your career in Tamil and Telugu cinema is going great guns your career in Bollywood hasn’t really taken off.Any regrets?
None at all. I don’t think cinema is language-bound any longer. Telugu and Tamil are as Indian as Hindi. Besides I would rather be the queen of my domain than play a prop in a Bollywood superstar’s film.