Kajol, who is back on screen with Shah Rukh Khan after a long hiatus, says that their reason behind working together again and again is anything but their commercial viability. In a candid chat, the no-nonsense actress looks back on her glory run in Bollywood, talks about fans’ obsession with her pairing with SRK, clarifies rumours about Ajay Devgn and SRK’s cold war and more. Excerpts:
Are you aware of just how crazy people are about the SRK-Kajol pairing?
I think we are aware of it, but perhaps still unaware of the extent of it. Somewhere, we are not able to gauge the madness and we are quite cool with ourselves. People love to see us together on screen and it’s fabulous to be defined as an ‘iconic’ couple. I think we don’t think about it and that’s why we are able to do the films we do. For instance, if a script comes to me, and they tell me that they have approached Shah Rukh for it, that will never be a deciding factor for me. I also know for a fact that for him too it won’t be a deciding factor.
Really? So, have there been offers in the past that both of you turned down?
Yes, there have been and we have been honest about it. We are good friends. So I have called him up and said “listen, I am not doing this film, it’s not working for me”. He too is very open and honest about it.
Do you think it was post Kuch Kuch Hota Hai that people started loving the two of you more?
No, it wasn’t that film. It began from Baazigar and it became big with DDLJ. I remember after DDLJ, somebody said that we are becoming the “hit jodi”. So yes, even then we were seen as the hit pair that works great together.
It’s surprising that after DDLJ it took three years for Karan Johar to cast you two in Kuch Kuch Hota Hai�
No it’s not like that. We were just doing different kind of films. Those days, when you signed movies, you would sign maybe four films. Also, I was and I am still choosy about my films. I was clear that I only wanted to do good films and work with people who I understand and can relate to.
How do feel about DDLJ being the only film running in theatres since its release?
I think we have entered the Guinness Book now. Both Shah Rukh and I feel that we don’t own the film any more. It was okay to take credit when it released and became a hit. But this phenomena of still running in the theatres — that credit goes to the audience who have loved it and made it a tradition in their lives. I have people coming to me saying they loved the film so much that years later they made even their kids watch it.
All is well with Adi Chopra now?
Post — Karan Arjun, a lot was said about the discomfort between Shah Rukh and Ajay. What is your take on their equation?
If two people are not friends, that doesn’t mean they are enemies. I have said this earlier also. Just because they don’t party together and you don’t see them clicking selfies, that doesn’t mean that they hate each other or bad-mouth each other. Yes, Shah Rukh is my friend and I have been very clear that my friends are mine and I have never imposed my friendships on Ajay and he has never done it either. We are both very clear about it. You need to give people that space. There are people who you are close to, that I may not be close to and that does not make them enemies. Recently, they met each other in Bulgaria and they have met before also at our home. I don’t think there is a discomfort but I also don’t think there is any friendship either. But there is nothing wrong with that.
You have rarely worked again with the same director barring few exceptions. Have you ever turned down a script that came from a director who has already made a hit film with you?
That has happened quite often. They came to me with something and I told them honestly that it didn’t work for me. I think I also have the record of doing the maximum number of films with new directors. I like it that way. I like to do films with directors who are not caught in their own ego issues. They have the ability to look at the larger picture.
Tell us about how the industry used to be in the 90s and how would that compare to the way things are today?
It was mad. I think that was work, now it’s luxury. Honestly, we didn’t have vans, we didn’t have phones, we didn’t even have a decent makeup room for that matter. I have done my makeup in the car — have done it lying down, actually in every position possible. We worked insane hours and the shift would usually stretch from 9 am to 9 pm, especially if the shoot was happening non-stop. Nobody seemed to think that one should work for only 8 hours. I cannot tell you how many locks I have got opened, because for the 9 am shift I would reach early and then alert others that the doors had not opened yet and the cleaner had not yet arrived, as he would have the keys. (Laughs)
How’s your equation with Rohit Shetty, especially since he has also had such a long standing association with your husband?
Yes, Rohit has been working with us for a long time now. He first worked in Ajay Devgn Films and did three films for the banner. He has directed Ajay (Devgn) in nine films so far. I have known him from the time he was an assistant director. Zameen was his first film as director and I remember him coming to Ajay and telling him, ‘Sir, I want you to act in this film’. And Ajay replied, saying, ‘Of course, tere liye kar lunga main’. Ajay literally considers him his younger brother — he feels he has raised Rohit Shetty.
Rohit Shetty’s films have a different kind of craziness about them� How is he as a director?
Rohit puts it across very nicely. He says that he makes movies for kids, so his point of view is always that it should look cool to kids. He is very clear about that. Even in Dilwale — our love story, Varun’s love story — they are all colourful and bright and at the same time have a lot of flying cars.
He is known to take offence when someone talks about “blowing up cars” in a casual manner�
Yes he does. He is very concerned about the stuntman inside the car. That’s him — he likes that zone and it’s great that he is able to interweave it so nicely in his films. Also, the action sequences never seem out of place in his films.