"I love my life the way it is" — Kajol

She might look like the-girl-next-door with her pretty looks and easy charm. But inside the bubbly personality and fun-loving attitude is a very matured, balanced woman.

Image Courtesy: Whirlpool

To most women, Kajol is wellbeing personified. She is a successful actor, producer, a doting mother, ideal daughter, loving wife, sister and warm friend. And she manages all these roles with an ease that few can. She has a good sense of humour and an obvious love for living life to the fullest—the qualities of woman who has achieved total wellness…

What is your perception of your self? Do you see yourself as a happy person?

My perception changes daily. On certain days, I am happy, energetic, confident and on some others, I am not. Every day, you eventually strive to be whatever you wish to be. And I think it’s an on-going struggle for everybody. Nobody is completely balanced, completely happy or completely sad. I think it’s really a struggle every day to be as complete a human being as you can. And isn’t that the beauty of life?

What’s health to you?

To me, mental health and mental peace is more important than physical fitness. If you accept yourself and feel good about it, you will remain fit. Whether you are fat or thin, short or tall, dark or fair—at the end of the day it does not really matter as long as you like yourself, accept yourself. What matters is how you are on the inside. At the core we are all energy [Read the February 2009 cover story]. This energy is beyond definitions. It is intangible and cannot be described. As long as we know that this part of us is healthy, we are healthy. That is what I believe is being truly healthy.

Do you mean to say physical attributes don’t matter?

I think most people are too hard on themselves about their bodies. But I think it’s not such a big deal. It’s really okay to be a little overweight. You do not have to be a perfect 36-24-36 to feel happy. If you are fat but happy with yourself then who says you are fat? Come to think of it, weight is a factor of the gravitational force. If there was no gravity on earth, we would not know, or care for, the meaning of overweight or underweight.

So how do you manage to maintain your shape and fitness?

To me, staying fit is first and foremost about accepting yourself the way you are. Superficial fitness does not matter. What’s important is whether you are a good person at heart...whether you do good for people, see good in other people, and believe in doing the right thing. If yes, I think you are on the right path.

March 08 is International Women’s Day. Are women really different from men? How?

Oh definitely! Men are from Mars and woman are from Venus. Women have a different set of problems. Some things are inherent to women—insecurities, thoughts, problems. And some thoughts are inherent to men. Men look at the world differently than women and I think that’s why we are such a mystery to them.

I think it is also true that you see a change in the perspective of women after they give birth to a child. Unfortunately, men don’t look to that experience as women do.

I think once you give birth to a child, you allow a lot more than you used to. Your tolerance goes up for some things and goes down for some others. In fact, I’ve learnt a lot from my daughter; she is my biggest teacher. She has changed my outlook towards life. I have become more patient because of her. And she makes me look at things with a new perspective. I have become more resilient.

Men are believed to be stronger than women, physically and the reverse is true, emotionally. Do you agree? Why?

Women are definitely emotionally stronger than men. Two reasons come to mind immediately.

One, women are told to be emotionally stronger since childhood. We are told, “You are a girl, you must adapt and be flexible…he is boy, you can’t expect him to understand”. So you see, the society makes us stronger.

The second reason is something my husband Ajay brought to my notice. He pointed out how women go through so many different roles in life. He showed me how a woman’s role keeps changing—daughter, young girl, daughter-in-law, mother, grandmother, while a man’s life is almost the same throughout. Even when a man becomes a grandfather, he’ll will say, “Yes, I’m a grandfather!” and then he’ll say, “See you, I’m off for my game of golf’. Men don’t change much from one role to another. A woman, on the other hand, gets involved in each role she plays.

How’s it been in your family? Were girls treated differently than boys?

In my family, both men and women are treated equally. Both are taught basic skills like cooking right from childhood, because that’s the best time to teach them values. Children learn from what they see. My grandmother used to tell my mama [uncle] that when the time comes you should know how to cook food for yourself. I too believe in practising the values I want my child to learn.

Image Courtesy: Whirlpool

A huge role! For me priority number 1-10 is my family and everything else comes after that. Family affects every aspect of my life. It’s equally important for both me and my husband. Family members are a part of what you strive for.

Success doesn’t matter without them. You strive for things in life for you and your family. And hence family is your purpose in life [How similar to what Sachin had said in December 2008 issue–Ed]

When it comes to family’s health, it’s believed that women take care of the clan.

It’s very true. Wherever she is, whatever she is doing, a woman is always thinking about her family. And is happy doing that. At the same time, it is important that women take care of themselves too. They ought to take responsibility of themselves and their health and learn to relax too.

Do you believe in fulfilment? What does it mean to you?

I think complete fulfilment is overrated. Because, if you were completely fulfilled, you would have achieved nirvana, and ascended to heaven, never to come back to planet Earth again. I think that’s boring. So, I appreciate my life the way it is—with its impracticalities, its little problems and its worries. I think that’s what makes you a balanced human being. I love life and accept it with its imperfections.

Finally, what is your advice to Complete Wellbeing readers, especially women readers?

Think and be healthy. Apart from the body, the mind is very important in remaining healthy and happy. Look into the mirror every day and smile at what you see. Learn to love yourself the way you are, with your strengths and weaknesses. Accept yourself and you will be happy. Only when you are happy within, will you look and feel happy.

The Kajol encounter

We waited expectantly—me and the editorial bosses of CW, Manoj and Ashwini—for Kajol to materialise for an interview, at one of the studios in the Western suburbs. Her PA, Mangesh Daphale had been extremely helpful in arranging the interview, and he kept pampering us with information, tea and coffee. Suddenly there were loud voices in the corridor, the door flung open, and Kajol shimmered in, in a flowing blue dress, looking as radiant and as beautiful as we have known her to be, on the screen. For a full 15 seconds, there was pin drop silence, as she sized us up, and we took in her personality. For those 15 seconds, for us, the world stood still. Then the ice was broken with a round of introductions. Kajol came directly to the point. “I have 10 minutes, that’s all,” she said “so get cracking”. In about 30 seconds, she understood from Manoj what CW embodied, what was required of her, and was ready to answer his questions.

The interview lasted 10 minutes, but it was an amazing experience. Kajol was both down-to-earth and focused, throughout. There were no star ‘airs’, as she shifted from English to Hindi and back, from topic to topic. She hardly had to pause to think for the answers, and her answers were precise, honest and open. Throughout the interview, there was a palpable energy, an electric charge in the room, something that cannot be described, but was felt by all of us. Kajol is a livewire, both on and off the screen, but in person, her energy levels and intelligence are amazing. She talked 13 to a dozen, but not a word was irrelevant or out of place or context. Her insight into life, on herself, on acceptance, on how it is more important to be a good human being, on family values, on children, on being open to varied experiences in life—all these thoughts spoke of a great intellect and a greater maturity, something that we had not really expected from someone as young as her.

Our team left the interview, charged with the energy that she had thrown at us, and with a resolve that we should try and live our lives with more joy, more happiness, more energy—instead of letting life’s worries bog us down.

Everyone has worries and problems—no one is unique—so what’s the big deal? But very few, like Kajol, are able to bring joy and ecstasy into every moment of life. We had learnt a lot that day. As we handed over a few small tokens of appreciation, she flashed a million watt smile—Reliance Energy, beware, you have stiff competition.

—P V Vaidyanathan

This was first published in the March 2009 issue of Complete Wellbeing

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Manoj Khatri
Manoj Khatri likes to call himself an eternal soul disguised, among many things, as a writer. He is the author of more than 1000 published articles — on business management, philosophy and everything in between. He is a certified counsellor and has addressed thousands of students and parents on exam-stress in public seminars. He is the author of What a thought!, a critically acclaimed book based on powerful ideas of some of the greatest thought leaders. Manoj is Editor and Publisher of Complete Wellbeing.