'Took care not to offend sensibilities': Kajol on 'Tanhaji: The Unsung Warrior'

Was it an immediate yes from you for this film?

In a way yes, though not instantly. It happened after I heard the script and got to know more about my character, Savirti, and what she had to say in the film. It is an episodic film...about Tanaji, but it is not his life story. It is about what led them to Kondana and how we got the fort back. I think the film's been put together quite nicely. Everybody will enjoy it. All the characters in the film are clearly drawn out. For example, if Saif Ali Khan is the villain of the film then he is completely black. He is not trying to be grey or in the end he is not going to say anything else or redeem himself or anything like that. Ajay is hero and he will be seen doing heroic acts. Savitri's character is also very clear, there is no doubt about who is she is. She is a mother, wife, Shivaji loyalist, Tanaji's support system and she knows that he would grumble without her. Their relationship is shown beautifully in the film.

What kind of research did you do for the role?

Director Om Raut has done a lot of research. We have made a film, not a documentary so there are parts of where we have taken a little cinematic liberty to say this was most probably what happened at that time and this is what led to it. Savitri is not a fictional character, but there are certain dialogues which she may have said in a different way and I am saying it differently.

Were you always the first choice for the role?

Honestly, Ajay always wanted me to do it. He came to me and said 'I have got this script and there is this character Savitri Malusare, I really want you to do. If you say yes, I will develop it further; if you are not doing it then I will leave at that'. I asked for more details about my character and after hearing the script I liked the way it was put together. I loved how scenes between Savitri and Tanaji were written. Oddly, I think it is not about feminism or taking women forward. Earlier they didn't have such strong lines dividing us and telling us what we are supposed to be. We had Rani of Jhansi that time, Jijamata, who ruled for Shivaji, till he was old enough to take charge. We didn't have clear directives about what woman should or should not be. That is something amazing I find about her because she is strong and she is a feminist in the clear sense of the word feminist.

Do you give inputs while playing any role?

Of course, I think it is very important for all of us to be involved, because I may have a point of view which works better or may be not. At least there should be a discussion about things. I think that is important that we always keep an open mind and keep the discussion open.

Was it a different experience to work with Ajay after a long gap?

It was really comfortable, I have worked with him in so many films and of course we live together (laughs). If you put all that together it was not a different experience of working with him. Good thing about working with him is that 50 percent of him is always a director and 50 percent an actor. Even when he is doing a scene with me he will look at me and say, 'I think you should ask for one more take or you can do this differently.'

Why did it take so long for you two to work together?

Because of the fact that we have lot of on and off screen history which makes it very difficult for us to do a film and plus we both have to like the script. His view point and my view point are completely different. Secondly, we both have to agree to do something that is new for us. I mean we have really done everything — running around the tress, song–dance, the married drama — that you could possibly think of together on screen. So we have to find something which works with our off screen and on screen relationship.

What kind of precautions you had to take for not offending anyone?

We have taken all the care we can think of so as to not offend anyone’s sensibilities and to make everything as correct as we can and to show Tanaji in the best possible light. At the same time it has to be a watchable film, but as they say you can’t please everyone all the time. So we will have to wait till the film releases.

Do you think in such cases creativity gets compromised?

Creativity is definitely hindered, but not stopped. I think that also has to do with censorship and also with the fact that you are catering to a certain section of society that will automatically bring it own rewards and objections to the film. But we are making films an Indian audience so I guess we need to take that into consideration.

Do you like the idea of remakes?

I like the idea of a remake. There are some songs which are beautifully remixed and some are not. The same applies to remake of films. Like I don’t think Satte Pe Satta one can remake it, but if you take that particular concept and redo it which is what many of them are doing then I think you can. But then there films which don’t have a concept, it is more about the moments, the chemistry, these films are heard to remake. For example, you cannot remake Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge, I don’t think you can remake it because it was about that moment and time; it was just then and there at that time. I don’t want any of my films to be remade.

How was it to work in the web series Tribhanga?

I think OTT is a great platform for creative people like directors, actors, writers, etc., because at least you have that leeway to do whatever you want without keeping a particular audience in mind. Renuka Shahane is an amazing director and working with her was an amazing experience. Somebody asked me is there something about her because she is a woman. I said no you just have good directors and bad directors there is no woman and man director. The best compliment I can give her is she is a good director and that has nothing to do with her gender.

Has your daughter expressed her desire to act in future and how important it is for you to keep them away from world of glamour?

My daughter is sixteen and a half, she is studying very hard right now and working very hard to graduate, my son is too young. I do keep them away from this world as it is very important for them to have a balanced life, to have friends, school life and have as much normal life as possible. I want them to have a fully normal life and I don’t want them to feel that they are separate from society. They are very much part of society, and they have to be integrated into society.