Fear should not override the spirit of celebrating life, says Kajol about her upcoming feature “Salaam Venky”, a film she initially was unsure about becoming a part of. Helmed by actor-director Revathy, the movie is inspired by the true story of the young chess player Kolavennu Venkatesh, who had Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD). He died in 2004.
Kajol, who is a mother of two, said working on “Salaam Venky” drew so much out of her that she shot the majority of the scenes without glycerine.
“It’s not the kind of film that you can ever do without feeling. I wasn’t sure whether I wanted to do the film because it’s a subject that is everyone’s nightmare. It was difficult for me to say yes to it.
“The great thing about Revathy is she made it easy as we were in the same situation day in and day out and it takes that fear away, besides ‘Salaam Venky’ is written so beautifully. It is a celebration of life and the film teaches you that life should be a celebration,” the 48-year-old actor told PTI in an interview here.
DMD is a genetic disorder which causes skeletal and heart muscle weakness that gets worse with time. Venkatesh’s death sparked a debate about euthanasia, commonly known as mercy killing, in India.
Asked about her views on euthanasia, Kajol responded with a dialogue from “Salaam Venky”: “One has the right to live and die with dignity.” “I am in two minds over it not because of anything else, but because we know humanity and there are a lot of people who would take advantage of a law like that. It’s a questionable thing for sure,” she said.
The actor further said many people realised the importance of living life to the fullest during the COVID-19 pandemic, which hit India in March 2020.
From wearing pyjamas to enjoying a car ride in the city whenever she stepped out, she has found joy in the simplest of things.
“We were all in the same frame of mind and right now. We are in a Venky frame of mind: we want to live large here and now. We want to enjoy every moment,” she added.
Like her character, Kajol said she too has fears in real life but believes in overcoming them.
“Your deepest fears usually are not related to anything that’s actually going to happen… I hope and pray that whatever happens, I still love myself at the end of the day.
“That my children still respect me, whatever my decisions may be. I’m pretty sure about everything else but I take responsibility for things. Whatever happens will happen and I will cross the bridge when I come to it.” To prepare for the role of Venky’s mother Sujata, the actor also met the real K Sujatha, whose simplicity and resolve touched her deeply.
“The character is not only your interpretation. You’re not playing a fictional character, you have to validate that person. Some of the things that she did were unbelievable.
“There is bravery in saying that I’ve seen the odds in front of me and I’m still going to go ahead. The belief that whatever happens, I will succeed,” she said.
Calling herself an actor who can switch on and switch off between emotions, Kajol said it wasn’t difficult to play an intense part like Sujata.
“I act in films and not in life. I am connected and grounded to my own reality. But there were parts of the film that were cathartic, that took everything out of me and cleansed me in a way.” “Salaam Venky” is set for a December 9 release in theatres.
Asked about the box office pressure, Kajol said there is no formula for a hit film.
It is important to bring people to theatres, she said, which is possible only with good content.
“The biggest filmmakers don’t have the idea of what is the perfect formula or what the audience will definitely like to go to theatres for. We should take our level up. And as far as production is concerned, we all need to make good films because we have to realise that the audience is watching high-quality things from different countries,” she added.
“Salaam Venky” is produced by Suuraj Sinngh, Shraddha Agrawal, and Varsha Kukreja under the banner of BLIVE Productions and RTAKE Studios.