Kajol: Ajay manages our children quite beautifully – Ever since she made her debut at the age of 17 in Bekhudi (1992), Kajol has essayed diverse characters with aplomb. Whether it was a simple NRI girl in Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge (1995), an obsessive lover in Gupt (1997), a tomboy-turned-feminine beauty in Kuch Kuch Hota Hai (1998), a loud-mouthed Punjabi in Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham… (2001) or a manipulative entrepreneur in last year’s VIP 2 Lalkar, she has always taken up new challenges and impressed everyone with her performances.
Recently, the award-winning actress lent her voice to Elastigirl for the Hindi version of Incredibles 2. The English flick has become the highest grosser in the animation genre in India, while its Hindi version has also contributed a huge chunk to the BO collections. Clearly, the risk has paid off for the effervescent star. She tells us why women have superpowers not just in reel but in real life, too, and how her husband, Ajay Devgn, is more adept at handling their kids — Nysa and Yug. Excerpts…
What was your reaction when you were asked to dub for Elastigirl?
My first reaction was ‘Yay, I’m going to play a superwoman with superpowers’, even though I’m not acting it out. I get all the goodies without doing much, which is a win-win situation for me. I love animation films.
You have played strong female characters in films. Was that one of the reasons you took up this offer?
Yes, of course, I wouldn’t do it if that wasn’t the case. I don’t think they (the makers) would have approached me if it wasn’t such a strong character.
How challenging was it to dub for an animated character?
Dubbing is always a painful experience even when you are doing it for a role that you have played. In this case, it was more difficult because I was doing it for another character. There are details like speech patterns and other aspects that one needs to keep in mind. This was a more technical act than sheer performance.
The movie has been praised as it emphasises on women empowerment and gender equality. Do you think it couldn’t have come at a more appropriate time given the whole ‘Me Too’ movement in Hollywood and the kind of women-centric movies being made in India?
More than women’s empowerment, this movie talks about how all of us (men and women) must share responsibilities. Like Mr Incredible tells his wife in the film, ‘Just do it, so that I can do it better.’ That line made me laugh because it says a lot about sharing responsibility. He always knew that taking care of kids is a tough task, but he didn’t know how tough it was till he had to do it himself. That’s when he realises that it’s not a breeze, it’s not as easy as snapping your fingers. That’s what equality is about. Empowerment is about finding your place in the world and men and women striking a balance when it comes to shouldering their responsibilities.
Did you draw parallels to your own life when you are out for shoots and your husband takes care of the kids?
(Laughs) My husband actually is more efficient than me because my kids too have shown certain superpowers at home that make me wonder how the hell did that happen. He manages them quite beautifully. He’s more adept at handling them.
Incredibles 2 has become the highest-grossing animation film in India.
(Intervenes) And I’m taking credit for it.
The Hindi dubbed version has contributed a huge chunk to the collections. Did you expect it to do so well?
I definitely expected it to do well. I’m so glad that everyone around the country has come around to accepting the fact that animated films are not made for a finite age group but cater to all kinds of people. Everybody can sit down, watch it and have a good laugh. That’s what is so cool about animated films.
Would you dub for a Hollywood film again?
This has been a great experience. I would like to dub again. If it’s about playing a woman again with superpowers, then I would definitely give it a thought (smiles).
You will be seen next in Eela in which you play an aspiring singer. This is the first time you are playing such a character.
I’m hugely excited about it. It releases on September 14. Yes, I play an aspiring singer in it. Women have a superpower, we can micro-manage. We can do things with just one head and a pair of hands that men think they need eight heads and hands to do. Eela celebrates this and is quite awesome.
Last year, you were seen in VIP 2. Do you have any plans to act in a regional cinema again?
I have no barriers in my head when it comes to any kind of film or any language. Having said that, I do feel most comfortable in Hindi.
Your Madame Tussauds wax statue was unveiled recently. You’ve lent your voice for an animation flick for the first time. Are these exciting times for you as an artiste?
Yes, I think I have had exciting times all my life. I’m a pretty happy person. I have a little more to do on certain days but, I like my life the way it is and I love myself every day (smiles).