My first film was accidental and then there was no looking back. Here I am, 26 films old’
After finishing her Bachelors in Mass Media, Kajal had a brief stint as an intern with cosmetic giant L’Oreal. She was part of the marketing and brand management team, post which she had her eye set on pursuing an MBA degree. She was always active in theatre but she never dreamt of making a career out of it. “In L’Oreal, I used to organize a lot of shoots and I bumped into a couple of photographers who insisted I get my portfolio done.” Kajal took their advice without hesitation and had her pictures taken. “I had no time to circulate my portfolio though, considering I was too preoccupied with what I was doing. Fortunately, the photographers themselves sent around my shots and the next thing I knew, I got my first film offer in a full-fledged commercial movie.” An offer to be a part of the silver screen still did not distract her from chasing her actual goal – going abroad and pursuing an MBA. “I thought an opportunity in films would look good on my resume and it would show some kind of versatility while I was looking to apply for courses abroad.” However, her debut role was so effective that she had to let go of plan A and embrace plan B, a career in films which she loves very much at the moment. “My parents were extremely supportive when I told them about my decision. My dad was in fact more encouraging than my mom. My family has been my backbone and even today, my mom travels with me for all my shoots. I don’t think I would have done so well for myself if not for them.”
‘Every role I have played so far has been very satisfying. It does not matter how the movies have fared at the box office’
Kajal’s career graph has been a steady one, barring a few box office failures in the Telugu and Tamil film industries. It took her a while to get recognized, to feel the taste of success. “I have worked with some of the best directors in the industry and I don’t think everyone has had that kind of opportunity, especially at such an early stage in their careers. In fact I think my films have done fairly well at the box office.” Losses according to her are just a part and parcel of life and she claims that she has not faced a massive loss or any major down in her career so far. “I look at losses as stepping stones and I am quite happy with the way things have turned out to be.”
‘Magadheera is by far the best film I have done. People still call me Princess Mithravinda’
She might have been part of a few hits but her acting career took a full swing of success after Magadheera, the highest grossing Telugu film ever, which was also a viral sensation. “It is probably the best team I have worked with. Director Rajamouli is one of the finest directors our country can boast of and Ram Charan was an excellent co-star, a very good friend and supremely talented of course.” She admits that the entire team knew the prospect of the film but nobody expected it to become such a big blockbuster. “I have learnt a lot from Rajamouli and it is one film that has earned me the recognition I have today. It is also a character of mine that no other film has been able to replace.” When asked about her high success factor in the Telugu industry as compared to Tamil and Bollywood, Kajal takes a brief pause and then after some contemplation, she says that people there can relate to her very easily. “They see me as their daughter, their sister or their wife. I guess it is the relatability factor that has worked in my favour and also, I have been blessed with fabulous roles.” However, she cautiously avows the fact that her roles in Tamil or Hindi films are equally precious. “My role in Naan Mahaan Alla was great too. Although I did not have a typical role that a heroine would play, it was still a slice of life by itself, something that every other girl could see and imagine herself doing.”
Currently on the work front, Kajal has Indian 2 alongside Kamal Haasan, Siddharth, Rakul Preet Singh and Priya Bhavani Shankar among others.