Media wonder girl Kajal is on a journey to stardom. Parminder Kaur meets the former model turned radio star, to talk Amir Khan, what it's like to be a breakfast presenter and how she landed her first Bollywood role.
TV presenting, modelling, radio...is there anything you can't do?
I started modelling in 2004 while I was living in Mumbai, my choreographer Utsav Dholakia encouraged me to go for it and I started out working on music videos and adverts. I never say no to new opportunities – though moving into radio wasn’t as easy as it seems. I had to really prove myself, it was like being back at school and having to take a maths test! I worked on my vocals and creating a demo and after a few months was given an early morning radio show from 4am-6am on Sunrise. Then a few months later I joined Kismet for the main breakfast show 6am-9am and left last year. One thing you’ll never hear me do though is singing. I’m more of a bathroom singer…you won’t hear me warbling in public anytime soon!
Any plans to come back on the airwaves? We miss you!
Breakfast radio was a tough job. I had to do a lot of preparation as I needed to energise people, wake them up and entertain them. It’s wasn’t easy – there’s so much information to announce: headlines, weather, traffic news, financial updates and various quizzes and competitions but I loved it. I felt like I’d become a member of families across London and it’s a great feeling to know that listeners appreciate the wake up call! Never say never, I would love to return to radio one day!
What are you up to at the moment?
I’m working as a Production Manager for Picturegate Productions producing shows for the Asian channels – it’s different being behind the scenes but just as exciting. I prepare scripts for our presenters, find locations for shoots, book models and organise auditions for new shows. I also create concepts and scripts for TV and radio commercials for our clients who advertise through the Asian channels. Everyday is a challenge as new jobs arise spontaneously. There are days when we are on the go 24/7 but I have no complaints - working hard is part of life!
You’ve been working in the media for all your career, what’s your inspiration?
Normally you would expect someone to say they were inspired by an actor or presenter, but to be honest I’ve always been inspired by real people like the production team on shoots. Seeing creative people work gives you a lot of motivation about what you can achieve. I’ve always believed that I am creative and have a good imagination which is what drew me to Picturegate Productions.
Don’t you miss being the leading lady?
Yes – but in a positive way. Every experience teaches you new skills and as long as I’m learning new things I don’t mind! I’m also gaining greater confidence in the industry. TV and radio are completely different industries and they require different skills. Radio is live so there’s no going back, if you make a mistake you have to carry on. On TV you’re never alone, you have a director and producer and camera person – I liked both ways though they are challenging in different ways.
You’ve met a lot of celebs in your various jobs – who’s been your favourfite?
Aamir Khan and Mr Amitabh Bachan. Mr Bachan was phenomenal; words cannot express how I felt interviewing him. He took his time in explaining the whole production of his new release (Paa) and at the end complimented my smile! When I left the interview room, he asked to call me back inside as he wanted to give me a signed poster of his new film - I felt so honoured!
With Aamir Khan, it was very memorable. When we first met, he walked past me and then came back to me and asked ‘We have met before?’ I replied ‘Yes of course……..In my dreams!’ We then had a conversation about our mutual friend/director Kunal Kohli whom at that time was texting me. Aamir held my phone and said to me ‘Kajal you should work with Kunal, he’s a good director!’ I totally agree!
And what happened, have you worked with the great man yet?
Yes! My 1st time was in 2008, when he was being interviewed for the release of ‘Thoda Pyar Thoda Magic’. I was managing the shoot. We became very good friends and hit it off well. Thereafter we have been in touch and occasionally meet in either country – though I never thought I’d actually star in one of his movies.
Tell us more!
It’s a beautiful romantic drama, Teri Meri Kahani based in three different periods 1910, 1960, and 2012. It stars Shahid Kapoor and Priyanka Chopra directed by Kunal Kohli and is produced by Vicky Bahri. I play Priyanka’s college friend. I’m only on for a few minutes but working with them was amazing! Priyanka was so bubbly and caring.
On the first day I wore a short dress, she noticed my goosebumps, stopped the shoot and gave me her shawl – bless her!
Fantastic! So now you can add Bollywood to your list, what’s next?
I don't plan anything in life. After completing my degree in Land and Property Management, I never thought I would be working in the media industry. As I said earlier, I just take every opportunity that comes my way.
However, I’m a keen writer. Whenever I’m alone in the car, I listen to music and create my own concepts and storyboards. My aim is to publish my stories and hopefully produce short films from them.
Currently I give the Bollywood news and updates on 9XM channel which is a 24-hour Bollywood music channel launched here in the UK in February. However I’m also planning on going back to India to see what I can offer the media there.
Teri Meri Kahani is released in cinemas on June 22nd 2012.