Kajol calls Salaam Venky her “75th comeback”. The actor is enjoying this phase of her career where she has the “freedom to choose, the freedom to grow, and the freedom to grow into something else” as compared to the earlier phases of her career.
In this interview with indianexpress.com Kajol talks about how the Revathi directorial addresses euthanasia, how she’s gravitating towards good stories in this phase of her career and Aamir Khan’s cameo.
Kajol plays a mother to a boy suffering from Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, and she calls the journey of getting into the role of Sujata “scary”. Talking about why she chose to do this film, she says, “The relationship that is shown, that of Sujata and Venky, the mother and son duo is very pure. And how their relationship becomes even more closer-knit, intricate and complex. In the film, there is a line which says everything about their relationship, where Venky tells Sujata, “Maine tujhe bohot tang kiya hai na?” And Sujata says no, ‘Tune toh mujhe jeena sikhaya hai Superman ki tarah (You’ve taught me how to live life to the fullest).’ That is what Salaam Venky is all about.”
“It is a story about a mother and her son, but is about everyone involved in the film and I think Revathi is the star of the show because she’s balanced the film so well. When you go in to watch the film, and after you come out of it, you feel happy and that is saying something. You feel hope, who doesn’t need hope in life really?,” Kajol adds.
This is Kajol’s third film where’s she’s being directed by a female filmmaker; she worked on Devi and Tribhanga earlier, both films winning accolades and love from the audience. However, it is new for her, as she’s not worked with female filmmakers in the easier phase of her career. On this she says, “I’ll give them the biggest compliment that I can give them and I’ll tell you my ratio of… Purely from my perspective… My scale is good director, bad director and medium director, directors who fall in the middle who can be bad and good but mostly fall in medium category. In my case, I’d say it was great fun to have another woman in authority on the set, but above all they’re just fine directors and they’ve written some amazing scripts. I’m very privileged to have worked with them really.”
Salaam Venky talks about euthanasia. On being asked about the kind of courage needed to tell a story about a subject that is so serious and not even legal in India, she says, “It takes an extraordinary amount of courage to even talk about it. I think Sujata, the character, the woman who led this entire conversation for her son, that’s something that ‘thinking people’, all of us would never even think about. Our intelligence and education would get in the way. Revathi ma’am had the most amazing thing to say about it… that sometimes the simplest people are the bravest.”
Talking about how she’s choosing the work now, which is not necessarily overtly “mainstream”. When asked if she think while she is evolving as an actor, most of her male co-stars of the 90’s and 2000’s, the superstars, are not evolving, she shares that it is because they have a bigger “responsibility on their super broad shoulder”.
She says, “I think that heroes have… let me put it like this, I really believe in this so quote me and quote me exactly when I say this. I believe that heroes in fact have this responsibility on them to be something, to be heroes and that they take that responsibility very very seriously, it is as if the fate of the entire industry rests on their super broad shoulders. So yes, whereas I have that freedom to choose, I have the freedom to grow, and be something else. But I think right now, these contemporary heroes that you’re talking about, I think a lot rests on their shoulders and I think they all take their responsibility very very seriously.”
Kajol then also shares how things have changed since the time she first became an actor, and there are more responsibilities on them as they have to promote their films too.
She says, “It is about promoting the film, I think social media has played a part in it. It has added an entire section of promoting the film, which was not there before. Pehle hum do interviews, do photo sessions karke khatam kar dete the, wahi pe baat khatam ho jaati thi, and one premiere (we used to do two interviews, two photo-shoots and one premiere and that’s all there was to promoting the film). But now, it is about social media and 100 other things that have come up; it is events, it is about using the exposure that is there because of all different avenues of social media. So your responsibility does increase, and it just shows that you can reach a wider audience, a much wider audience.”
Salaam Venky will see Aamir Khan doing a cameo. Kajol and the makers of the film are trying their best to keep Khan’s role under wraps. However, the actor says that she enjoys working with Aamir as he “works on being honest in front of the camera”.
She says, “I can’t really say much right now, you’ll have to watch the film. But he’s amazing in the film, he’s absolutely bang on perfect. The great thing about Aamir is, and that what he works on absolutely is to not be stylised. One thing we can say is that he is completely him, besides the fact that he comes out with really really good films. He is a fabulous actor to work with, he still works on being honest in front of the camera. It is something I truly and genuinely respect about him. It was beautiful working with him.”