Bollywood actress Kajol says best is yet to come
She fits the bill of a superwoman — she is married, mother to two kids, still a working actress and is now bestowed with the Padma Shri, India's fourth highest civilian award. No points for guessing that we are talking about Kajol.
The light-eyed beauty and the stellar performer chats with tabloid! about her honour, awards and movies.
How is Padma Shri Kajol feeling?
It was a surprise and shockingly a good one too. I feel very honoured, it's a privilege and I don't think they give it to people this young. This time, my age  goes in my favour rather than against me (laughs). It's a very nice feeling.
How did the family react to the news?
Oh, everyone is so happy; all of them are over the moon. I've got calls from my Bengali, Maharastrian and Punjabi side of the family. All my relatives from all over the world have called me with good wishes. The response has been so overwhelming.
Does Nysa understand that her mommy is now a Padma Shri?
No, and frankly, I don't expect her to either. It's a bit difficult to explain to a little seven-year-old what a Padma Shri really means. But I hope when she grows up, she'll be proud of me.
What was your first reaction?
I didn't know how to react actually; I was in a bit of a shock. Then it sank in and start feeling ‘okay, you've got an award'. Slowly it gets bigger and bigger and bigger. I'm just adjusting to the scope of it in reality.
Was a Padma Shri ever an aim in your life?
No, I didn't even think of it. Frankly, I didn't even know that they were considering me. I have been happily going on in life doing the normal things.
What do awards mean to you?
It's great and momentarily fantastic. Momentary because at the end of the day, you've got to get back to your work and put your heart and soul into what you're doing. You can't live off an award for very long. But the very thought that you've been acknowledged and are considered the best in any particular role is an incredible feeling.
What do you consider your best performance so far?
I am still growing; my best performance is yet to come.
Is there any movie that you've regretted being a part of?
I haven't regretted being part of any movie, they've all been experiences. They have taught me something and if I didn't have those experiences, I wouldn't be where I am today or be the person that I am today. I haven't even regretted not doing any movies that I rejected in the past.
When you just started out, what were your life goals?
I didn't have a goal in life; I was just 16 years old. My goal was to sleep as much as I could and read as many books as I could. Nowadays, I read whenever I get the chance, but not as much as I would like to.
What do you have to say about your fellow winners, Tabu and Irrfan Khan?
They are great actors; they definitely need to get recognised for their films. The award is given for the body of their work and they both have great body of work. I don't know them personally that well. I've met Tabu a couple of times and she is a fantastic person. I love her. She is one of the coolest, nicest people that I've met. No hassles and a great sense of humour. She is a wonderful human being and a fantastic actress to top it all.
How did your mother Tanuja react to the news?
My mother is very, very proud of me. As good children, we always aim to make our parents proud of us, to get that big smile on their faces. If this Padma Shri means something to me, it means that my mother is proud of me.
With your grandmother, aunt and mother being famous actors, how much has it helped or hindered you in your career?
There was definitely pressure to live up to their calibre. But the pressure was something that I have always been able to ignore. I've never let it affect my work or life. I'm wonderfully proud to be a part of my family — I am very proud of my grandmother, mother, father, aunt and sister. I'm blessed, I really am. They are wonderful people and whatever they have given me in terms of life, experiences, genes, whatever you may call them, I'm thankful for that.
What do you feel about the roles that actresses get in the industry today?
There are some very good roles written for actresses today, there are no two ways about that. There are great films like Paa and Ishqiya where the female characters have been given an upper hand. There are great roles being written, but unfortunately we don't have that many actors to pull it off that well and bring the performance to excellence.
What do you consider as the biggest turning point in life?
My life is in a flux every year, but that's beside the point. My kids, marriage, films everything is a turning point. I hope that I am growing and evolving every day, I hope I am a better person tomorrow than what I am today, and that I have learnt a little bit more today than yesterday. My aim is to grow and learn more.
From the newcomers, who holds the chance for a real long run in the industry?
I can't name anybody, because I haven't seen any movies. So for me to sit and judge anybody is actually unfair, I really can't do it.
Being a mum and wife
Has motherhood changed you?
Motherhood changes everybody. The change is important, and inevitable at the same time. It is an amazing feeling. You almost push the limits of your already tired body. It's a full time job; that is what being a mum is all about.
Do you enjoy going with Ajay for social dos?
Well, neither of us is outgoing. It's either me going out with him or he attending one of my dos, we are not the party kind. Instead, we like spending quality time with each other, close friends and family amidst our existing hectic schedules.
With baby Yug in the picture, how hectic is it at home now?
Very hectic. In fact it's almost tiring to talk about it. I'd almost get mentally transported to all the chores if I sit and talk about them.
Do Ajay and you share childcare jobs?
Yes definitely, we do. I would give my husband quite a few points on this one.
How is he as a parent, does he spoil them rotten?
I am the disciplinarian between the two of us; but overall he is quite a balanced person. He is quite a fair and controlled parent. The spoiling is as good as a doting dad but he would not spare the rod all the time. We both balance each other out.