I’m not looking for a Handsome Hunk! – Kajal Aggarwal

A rare combination of beauty, brains and modesty, Kajal Aggarwal gets candid on her ideal man, her movies and what keeps her going

She has given some of the most popular hits down south. Every cameraman’s muse, she’s not only gorgeous but also a brilliant actor. Having spent over a decade in the industry, she has cemented her reputation as an unparalleled creative force in the South Indian film world today. Not swayed by her roaring success in Kollywood and Tollywood and a peek-a-boo success sharing in Bollywood, she continues to keep her feet firmly on the ground. No wonder then she’s every actor, director and producer’s darling. RITZ gets up, close and personal with the charming, cheerful and chirpy Kajal Aggarwal in a freewheeling tête-à-tête.

What are some of the current projects you’re working on? Tell us something about your role in the remake of Queen?

I’m working on Upendra Madhav’s Telugu film called MLA with Kalyan Ram. It’s a fresh script, a mixed genre and my role is very interesting. I’m teaming again with Kalyan Ram after many years. I had made my debut as an actor with him. I’m also acting in the remake of Queen and before there are any comparisons I would like to clarify that I’m not stepping into Kangana’s shoes. I like to wear shoes of my own. Although we will be sticking to the original script, I will be adding my personal touch to it. There’s a certain sense of authenticity to my character with local Tamil culture being a predominant factor. I play a small town girl from Madurai or something similar, who has grown in a protective environment and how she adapts to it. Since I travel to Tamil Nadu all the time, more of the preparation for the role is observation based.

Tell us something about your sense of fashion, the brands that you like, who styles you for events and movies and the designers you follow.

In my personal life I choose comfort over anything else. I believe that one has to be comfortable in their skin. I like to dress well at all times, but never at the cost of my comfort. Archa Mehta styles me for my movies, Divya and Arpita dress me up for events and for my TV commercials it’s Alia. My choice of brands depends on what I’m wearing and the occasion. When it comes it Indian wear, Sabyasachi is my favourite. I also like pantsuits from Monisha Jaising. In western wear, I like Self-Portrait. My other favourite international brands are Roberto Cavalli, Valentino, Ralph & Russo, Prabal Gurung and Victoria Beckham. I also like Bibhu Mohapatra.

Do you feel bad when you get panned sometimes for your outfits?

I don’t take it personally. If I’m comfortable in something I don’t give a damn. Who has the time to take any additional pressure? I can’t live my life like this. I have so many important things to focus on. I’d rather do that than get into what someone said.

The nepotism debate – your family is not from the movie industry. Have you ever faced any incident of nepotism where a star kid got preference over you?

Not really, I feel everyone deserves their due. At the end of the day if you’re cut out for what you’re doing you will stand out regardless of anything. You have to prove your mettle in any industry, if you’re a star kid or not. I love what I do and I love being in front of the camera. I love challenges. I like to work hard and that’s what keeps me going. There are many days when I work for 12 to 14 hours and I would still fit in my workout. I also take time out for my friends and family regularly. I’m also a human being and there are days I get tired and just don’t feel like getting out of my bed and then I remind myself the reason I’m here for. I tell myself that this is what I’m most passionate about and I’ve been lucky to have got it all. I’m a responsible person and to complete my work is my responsibility as an actor. Even if you’re lazy on some days you got to do what you got to do. We don’t have the luxury of calling in a boss and saying I’m not feeling well today and won’t be able to come to office, unless the situation is really bad. I think it’s also about my upbringing. My parents are disciplinarians and we have always had respect for other people’s time.

Icons in the industry who you admire?

I’ve always admired Chiranjeevi for his charm, his grace and his dedication and discipline. Hats off to him for doing his 150th film and still being so disciplined. I always admire my seniors. I also like Sridevi.

Experiences working with different stars, especially Chiranjeevi recently in his 150th movie.

It was so lovely shooting with him and it was really wonderful sharing the screen space with him. Everyone loves his dancing style and it was so much fun shaking a leg with him.

Does it annoy you that only heroines get asked about marriage plans, whether they will quit once they are married etc. Are we still living in deeply chauvinistic times?

I don’t get angry as these kinds of questions are expected. I will get married when the time is right and when I find the right man. It’s not about needing a man or leaving your work. It’s about companionship and when I feel I have found the one I want for life, then I will tie the knot. I strongly believe in the constitution of marriage. My parents have lived together all these years. I believe in strong relationships and that they need constant work. One should not get married just for the heck of it or if they have reached marriageable age.

What’s your ideal man, tell us some qualities you would want in your man?

Honesty, loyalty and integrity! If he has all of these, he’s mine. I’m not really looking for a hunk as I’m not particular about someone with great looks.

Dating lessons for today’s girls?

I’m not a pro at dating. If I were, I would probably be married by now. But I would say, never date to please others, or go out of your way to please your partner, Let the love grow organically. Let the process of getting to know one another be true and honest without any pretentions.

QUICK FIRE:

What’s in your handbag?

My house keys, moisturiser, wallet, sunglasses, mint, mobile phone and passport.

How long do you take to get ready to go out?

On an average about half an hour. I don’t have the patience to take too long to get ready.

How often do you weigh yourself?

If I’m in a hotel room or at the gym and I have some time, although usually I’m always in a rush.

What’s your ideal size goal?

As long as you’re healthy, size doesn’t matter. Being fit is what matters to me.

Where do you see yourself 10 years from now?

Doing roles that I like doing, working and going strong

What’s your go-to outfit whenever you can’t decide what to wear?

Fitted jeans and a really nice fitted top.

What’s your current car?

My white Audi.

What’s the worst pickup line anyone’s ever used on you?

I’ve lost count of how many bad ones that have come my way. Someone asked me recently if my father was a terrorist coz I look like a bomb. So lame really! Men really need to up their game.

What do you find sexiest about a man?

A self-made man with great work ethics and sincere character.

Would you ever do a totally de-glam woman-centric role?

Yes, I’m doing Queen.

Are you an early bird or a late Kate?

Early bird. My day starts at 5 am.

Ever missed an important flight?

Yes I have, but just once as I was stuck in a terrible traffic jam. I’m going to catch a flight even now.