Undoubtedly, Randeep Hooda is the ‘man of the Moment’. He is on a roll with as many as four movies releasing this year. Kajal Aggarwal is a busy star shuttling between multiple projects in Hindi, Tamil and Telugu simultaneously. Recently, both the stars were in our office to promote their latest film, ‘Do Lafzon Ki Kahani’ directed by Deepak Tijori – an out and out romantic tale which is a first for Randeep especially. Read on…

“Every small town guy fantasies to do small things for his lady love on the basis of his fists. So ‘Do Lafzon Ki Kahani’ was like a childhood fantasy coming true.”
-Randeep Hooda

“I work responsibly towards my film but post 6pm I completely cut-off myself and do my own things.”
-Kajal Aggarwal

The kind of films you’ve been doing surely does come with lot of challenges, so what’s the best and difficult part about this film?

Randeep – The best part of this film was that, this is my very first conventional romantic love story where a boy meets the girl and then things happen so that was the big draw for it. Also I got to play mixed martial arts fighter, I don’t think I’ve really punched somebody in a film before this or being punched. I also used to swing my arms (smiles). Those real fighters use to throw punches in real and I used to ask them to go easy on me but they never listened (laughs). It was a good experience. Also I’ve not been part of songs in my life. So this was a good opportunity and it has some best songs ever since ‘Jism 2’. So after ‘Jism 2’, this was the film that has best songs and a very pretty co-star.

How is it to play someone who’s visually impaired, getting certain things correct and not make it caricaturish?

Kajal – This was a challenge for me as I’ve never done something like that so I had to be honest. I couldn’t really fool around doing a role like this so I had to do it with all conviction, for that I did meet people, I got trained, I attended work shop’s at XRCBC. Also it was like my biggest challenge because I’ve never done a role which requires so much integrity; not that I don’t put in integrity in my other films but in this particular film I had to go out of my way, push my boundaries and be very convincing.

Do you both really think this was something which was out of your comfort zone?

Kajal – For me sure! I’ve done a lot of gloss. I love that kind of cinema it’s my favorite genre and I enjoy doing those kinds of films. For the first time I’m doing a film which is so real for me.

Randeep – It’s not that you are stepping out of your comfort zone as such. So it wasn’t really a departure from comfort zone. In this movie, this guy has a little dark secret but for me it’s very internalised part that was a challenge because he is not expressive at all. So to find little things within that and of course to train in MMA which I did two hours in the morning and two hours in the evening for six months with perpetual pain or basically get train become a vegetable, was hard. That went for a long time and it was the hardest thing I’ve done in my life. ‘Sarbjit’ was one transformation where I had to shed all this weight and it wasn’t harder for me to shed for ‘Sarbjit’ because of ‘Do Lafzon Ki Kahani’ I had gone to 95 muscle bound and then come down to 65 for ‘Sarbjit’ without having fat. So this movie increased my challenge for ‘Sarbjit’ though it was more challenging in itself because to put on quality weight with muscle and all; you have to really slog yourself. So the last year has been in a relationship with the fridge (laughs).

As an artist, your end goal is obviously to work more but how do you feel when you see that for the first time you have back to back four releases in four months?

Randeep – I think it’s the inexperience on the part of the producers to bring these films back to back like that. I would not say that ‘Sarbjit’ is a greater film so they should be given precedent over it and I think ‘Laal Rang’ was also an amazing film. So it’s just inexperience on part of the producers; I would call it a screw-up that all my films are coming back to back but may be this is what fate has designed for me and may be one movie wasn’t enough to make that impact. So I had four in a row and all four were dynamically different. It’s like I’ve got north, east, south and west in four months. May be that was required for my career to give that little push but I too feel they are coming out too soon. Sometimes when I do get time, I watch a music channel it starts with songs of ‘Laal Rang’, then songs of ‘Sarbjit’ and ‘Do Lafzon Ki Kahani’ songs which I never had in my past thirteen years and all of a sudden it’s all happening. I find joy in this that every genre is different may be the music or the physical appearances in the characters, they are so different. May be this was required to put it on people’s faces that the work that I’m doing right from the beginning of my career are always different from one film to another; maybe this will highlight it and I see no other benefit from it. I just hope that people don’t get tired of me and start complaining, ‘This guy, Randeep Hooda is everywhere’ (laughs).

 Isn’t it the case that you actually want to do justice to that ‘artist’ word written for you?

Randeep– Absolutely, I don’t think its hard work. It’s something that I enjoy. Every small town guy fantasies to do small things for his lady love on the basis of his fists. So ‘Do Lafzon Ki Kahani’ was like a childhood fantasy coming true. Despite getting beaten outside you are like ‘I’m the man’ (laughs). And also I feel that artist thing had struck me very genuinely when I saw that on the door of the make-up van saying ‘artist’. I actually didn’t go into the van. I smoked a cigarette and I walked around a little before going in. It’s kind of justified when you say that a dancer is an artist or a singer is an artist or a painter is an artist because of the numerous hours of work they put in before to put their work out, which is not always the case with actors. But we are also called artist. So I wanted to justify that by my work. When my dad saw the film, he hugged me and said, ‘Wow! What else will you do now?’ (laughs). And I was like, ‘I don’t know what I’m going to do next, Papa.’ You never know how life’s going to conspire but Naseer bhai had once told me long ago, ‘Don’t try to plan your career. Let it become what it has to on its own.’ And I stopped doing that. So I just enjoy my work that comes my way seeing it as a new learning opportunity.

Kajal, what are your expectations as an actor?

Kajal – Of course good roles drive me for sure but you always want to do better than your previous film and that’s the main thing for any actor. You obviously want to achieve better, be known for the kind of performances you deliver. So that’s like the primary concern for me as well.

How helpful and different was it to be directed by an actor turned director, Deepak Tijori?

Randeep – The difference is that Deepak Tijori talks to us in terms of actors like an actor would talk to an actor which was one advantage. And other directors also have that thing but there is definitely something special to be directed by an actor turned director and he has been quite a successful actor in his time, so definitely it was an advantage. I have very little to do with directors on the set. Before the movie starts, I sit with them and click with them. During the film, I hardly have any conversation with them and anyway I don’t have conversation with anyone. Only conversation that I have is with the director unless there is a very charming co-star (smiles).

Kajal – I share the same sentiments of course, it makes a difference when your director has been an actor. He understands the things that you go through a lot more because he has been there and done that, all of it. But having said that, a director’s job is to basically direct a film. Whether he is an actor or not doesn’t hinder the kind of direction or doesn’t hinder his job by any means. All directors in any case are very sensitive to their actors because obviously they are the ones who deal with us the most.

As an actor, how quickly do you discard your character as soon as a movie gets over, especially when you have back to back four releases?

Randeep – I did discard ‘Sarbjit’ because I shot for ‘Sultan’ after it. But they didn’t do the sync-sound for ‘Sarbjit’. They should have done the movie with sync-sound because to create the same emotion is very difficult. So I had to go through it again while dubbing and that took me a while to get over it. ‘Highway’ was a difficult film to get out of. I was depressed for a long time after the movie. I felt persecuted that I have nothing and everybody has something because of the character I portrayed. Even for ‘Sarbjit’ I felt persecution and it usually comes out on people around me but then one has to get out of it. The only things that help me to get out of any character are my horses because they don’t know what’s going on. I think my soul and comfort lies with them. To rejuvenate has become my baseline. Once I get back to riding for a few days in a row, I get consumed by riding and that’s the only way I get out of character. I don’t live with my family. So only horses help me get out of it. And my dog, Candy of course she knows from where I’m returning.

Kajal – For me, I don’t. I’m a very detached person.  I don’t take back my work the same evening. I work responsibly towards my film but post 6pm I completely cut-off myself and do my own things.

Randeep – Aishwarya said the same thing in ‘Sarbjit’s’ prayer meet and I realised standing on the stage with her that I don’t have a life. I love what I do and I’m totally immersed in it.

Kajal – I think there is one more difference to it. As actresses, we need to cut-off because we do four to five films simultaneously but actors focus one film at a time. We jump between schedules. I jump between Tamil, Telugu, Hindi and I become crazy. So for me to cut-off is extremely important.

To start your career with an unconventional movie at a time when such movies were not being welcomed by the audience or the industry and then to carve your own path without losing your belief and arriving at a point where roles are specially written for you, how do you look at it?

Randeep – I look with lot of gratitude. Because I remember before I did ‘D’ I was watching TV and I realized I don’t see myself fitting in any of the movies and I was worried about my career. Then I saw ‘Company’. I was so impressed that I said to myself, ‘Ram Gopal Verma is the man’. I just thought of it and I got a call from him. I share a very long relationship with Ram Gopal Verma. I was employed by his factory for Rs.35k rupees a month for three years to not do any work. So in my prime of youth I sat at home and waiting for call. I was on standby. It was like the procedure a studio follows. Even after I did the film, I was not paid for it but my salary continued. I had accumulated quite a bit of money plus you don’t have to spend your money while shooting, you get food on the sets and you get a car to pick you up. So I was very happy because I didn’t have to spend a single penny. Also I have often been the surprise package in the film and now the surprise package is also been put out. So that’s a change in terms of the market. But I have never moved from the way I have worked though I have done films which were not conducive to that kind of work. Amidst all this I have suffered with inexperienced producer, I won’t say bad producers, inexperienced producers who don’t know how to hype a film; they don’t have a release date in mind so they don’t know how and when to promote it. Also the amount of prints released and all this things make a huge difference and then some ignorant people turn around and say that my films don’t work.

Do you suggest the marketing strategy or the promotional tactics or date of release to the producers?

Randeep – I do suggest. And all those actors who say that they don’t know anything about these things are completely lying about it. Every actor or actress has proper and enough knowledge about these things and we should suggest all these things. But at the end of the day, it is the producer’s money.  So ultimately it depends on them. But I make sure of one thing that whatever maybe the scenario, whatever part or role that I have in my hands be it acting or promoting the film I do it whole-heartedly. Even in the past if I have done any small budget movie, I have always gone on the front foot and promoted it and also felt proud about it and have always been for the makers of the film.

Kajal, your career has just come to Hindi industry wherein you have done some movies here before. You keep juggling between these three different industries. So how difficult is the transition?

Kajal – It is tough because sometimes I missing out on important work in one of these three industries. So if in a year I have my dates committed already and still i am getting good offers from somewhere, I cannot do it which ends out in me missing it. But I still like the balance that I am maintaining currently because I have started my work from South and South films are very important inherent part of my being and  when it comes to prioritizing between all these industries I choose the best of what is offered to me. I am a greedy person and I like taking it all.

What are your expectations as performers from ‘Do Lafzon Ki Kahani’?

Randeep – My first expectation is fulfilled, that people love the songs and keep on playing it which has never been the case for almost all my movies so far. Secondly, my dream of playing a fighter is also fulfilled. Thirdly, I have been a part of a conventional love story. The lack of romance in my life on reel life has been fulfilled. Lastly my expectation is that this film has got all the expectations to do well. It is very simple film but still emotional and true enough.

Kajal – I think the story is great. We both have worked very hard and I think our characters have developed beautifully.  So I do expect the film to strike a chord with the audience and I am pretty sure that people who will go and watch it will really like it.

What would you like doing next?

Randeep – I want to do comedy because I have very cracky sense of humor. ‘Laal Rang’ was very funny. It wasn’t a mainstream comedy but kind of dark comedy. Somebody will surely notice my sense of humor soon and also I don’t need to lose my weight or behave like a mad person nor will I have to carry my work back home. I’ll just have to go on the sets and crack some jokes (laughs). I’ll also do things which most actors do like pranks on the sets which I could never do in my films.

Kajal – I am going to follow Randeep’s footsteps and do more of serious cinema.

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