Acclaimed Bollywood actress Kajol is different, and she doesn't let anybody in the room forget it.
During our 10-minute chat with the My Name is Khan (MNIK) star, she rapidly fired off proclamations such as "I am a very boring person", "I am not into Twitter" and "I hate talking about my private life".
Her flat refusal to give out her secretary's number and her stumped expression when asked which designer she was sporting indicated she was a misfit of sorts among the me-myself-and-I celebrities.
"I am really, really boring. And I like my boring life. I believe that no news is good news in my life. I believe that I don't need to tell people on a daily basis what I am up to or where I had gone on a holiday. It's none of their business," Kajol says animatedly before the world premiere of MNIK in Abu Dhabi.
Fortunately, the 34-year-old actress was far more effusive when speaking about her MNIK co-star, Shah Rukh Khan. Between the two, they have given some of Bollywood's biggest blockbusters, including the cult romances Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge, Kuch Kuch Hota Hai and Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham. Their sizzling on-screen chemistry elevated these mushy tales into cinematic gems.
"We are great friends, and when you are comfortable with a person, there is a certain level of understanding. There is a certain kind of sync that comes across and we respond to each other without the usual: ‘I am doing this' and ‘You are doing that.' There is mutual respect."
In the fickle world of showbiz where frenemies rule the turf, their friendship has lasted for nearly two decades. As Khan put it, he owes a huge chunk of his success to Kajol. "We watch out for each other. Like when I am doing a scene with her, I am always looking out for her and she does the same for me. I want her to do the scene better.
"When you have friends looking out for you, then there is an association. Also, the confidence that we have some of the biggest blockbusters in the history of Indian cinema helps."
Though they wax lyrical about each other, it doesn't take Kajol much to make a feisty remark. "Guys, cut us some slack," she says
"I think you are not attributing enough to our talents. I mean, can't we just be good actors? Why should it all be about chemistry or camaraderie?," Kajol says, rolling her eyes.
But their close friend and colleague Bollywood hitmaker Karan Johar begs to differ. Billed as Bollywood's terrific trio, Johar has cast Kajol and Khan in three of his four directorial ventures. Barring 2006's SRK-led Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna, Johar has always managed to rope in Kajol.
His answer borders on the sublime: "There is an emotion in our equation, a deep level of professionalism and a sense of solidarity that translates effectively on-screen."
The trio is unabashedly proud of each other's success. Khan admires Kajol's decision to take long sabbaticals from films, while she admires him for remaining spontaneous despite acting in more than four films in a year.
"He has evolved a lot as a person and that is reflected in his work. Now, he is willing to take chances.
"Agreed, he is a lot more careful about taking those chances. His enthusiasm for work has not diminished over time… I think he is a better man today," she says.
"There is never an element of monotony creeping in, considering I do one film in three years and he is doing like four films in one year. I find that amazing, that he hasn't allowed it to seep in."
‘Been there, done that'
While Khan has appeared in more than 68 films, Kajol has appeared in just 30 projects. Her penchant for taking long sabbaticals — like the five-year break from 2001, taken after delivering the hit Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham — is legendary.
"I just have [that] ‘been there, done that' feeling. I feel as I have been working for too long. So for me to do a film, it will require a script that challenges me and me makes me want to take that time away from my family. I need to justify my presence in a set.
"There has to be something concrete behind it — some substance. I can't do a role just for the heck of it. Maybe I was in that space 10 years back, but not now."
Kajol is married to award-winning actor Ajay Devgan. The couple have a five-year old daughter, Nyasa.
Cringing at the term "comeback", Kajol explained her stand. "First of all, I find term ‘comeback' very stupid. Let us not talk about a comeback, let us talk about a good film, let us talk about a great scrip.
"My Name Is Khan has both those qualities in it. It started off as a great script and ended as an even better film."
‘I want everybody to be happy'
Shah Rukh Khan said on Friday he was “scared” and “hurt” by hardline Hindu party Shiv Sena’s reaction to recent remarks he made in support of Pakistani cricketers.
The 44-year-old heartthrob, in Berlin to present My Name is Khan at the city’s film festival, also told reporters that he wanted to see the row settled quickly.
“I really want everybody to be happy... and I’ll make sure that by the time I get back to India that everybody is happy,” said Khan.
“I don’t want any aggression, any problem. I get very, very disturbed and scared and emotionally hurt when things like this happen.”
He was referring to protests by the Shiv Sena after he criticised the fact that no Pakistani cricketers had been picked for the Indian Premier League.
“So much has been said, so much has been spoken, and with all due respect to everybody around the world, including in my country India, in my city Mumbai... right now, I’d just like to sit down here, walk the red carpet, have some champagne, enjoy the film.
“I truly believe that my job is to make sure people smile. I have no self-centredness or ego about it.”