Mumbai, 30 January 2018: Being a transgender is not a boon in a country like India. Furthermore if you aspire to become an artist, the path towards it is not going to be filled with rose petals, but, maybe thorns. While some fail to sustain in the glam world, there’s a name that has managed to grab some eyeballs amidst all struggles. In just a span of few years, she has made her debut on the silver screen, worked with biggies like Sonakshi Sinha, Anurag Kashyap, A R Murugadoss and is currently featured in an extremely popular daily series Shakti — Astitva Ke Ehsaas Ki.
Kajal Saroj has a journey that is not just applaud worthy but, has the potential to inspire people and to aspire colossal dreams. From being a transgender bar dancer to finally becoming a known face on television, she had all the odds that made sure to impede her dreams and happiness. However, destiny and hard work gave Saroj the wings to overcome the hurdles and fly high in the sky.
In an exclusive tête-à-tête with desimania, a chirpy Kajal Saroj shares her story. A story of fighting all the odds, a story of dignity and a story of hope and belief.
Excerpts are as followed –
Story of a bar dancer
Despite being in the industry for quite some time now, not much is known about Kajal and her journey. Kajal born as a transgender, started surviving in this world of rat race as a bar dancer. While many would be complaining about being a bar dancer, Kajal never had much qualms. Maybe she knew that her life’s narrative was about to take a major turn. Talking about her it she says, “I used to work in a dance bar. Looking at me no one could even guess that I’m a transgender. There were few girls who were envious of me. If a customer liked me they used to go to him and murmur ‘ye to aisi hai iske uppar q paise uda rahe ho? Kya tumbhi wohi ho?’ because of which I used to lose my customers.” While reminiscing the life in a bar, she shares, “Bar life was very tough. Out of 12 girls there’s always one transgender girl. I had fights with the girls, who used to be jealous of me and spread negativity. We had problems while hunting for rooms. People used to ask questions. I, being an honest person, used to say the truth because of which I never found a house.”
A talent that survived
Soon Kajal, a bar dancer’s life was about to change. Little did she know that from dancing on drunkards’ tables, she will be showing her talent on the 70 mm screens. Kajal bagged A. R. Murugadoss’ Akira, starring Sonakshi Sinha and Anurag Kashyap. The story behind her bagging the film is another interesting tale. The prime onus behind Kajal’s stint in the movie goes to an NGO named Kinnari Maa, which serves for Transgender women. “I’m very cordial with the owner of the trust.” Meanwhile A. R. Murgadoss was on a hunt for a character in his upcoming film Akira. That is when he approached the trust to aid him hunting for a transgender actor. “I got a call from Salma ji (the owner of the trust). She called me to her enjoy and I had no idea about the ongoing auditions. When I went there and gave the auditions. I jumbled the script. I improvised and consequently everyone was laughing. I honestly had no idea of how these things work.” Out of 27 Kinnars the makers selected 4 people and called them on the set. During the second round, Kajal had to enact an emotional scene and she surely must have nailed it, since she bagged the role. On working with Sonakshi Sinha, she says, “I worked with her for 20 days. I was scared and nervous for the first time in front of the camera. But, I knew I had talent so I survived.”
“I didn’t know that my life had such huge plans”
While the film was about to release Kajal was somewhere overshadowed by such big names. However, time had something major planned. “I didn’t know that my life had such huge plans. In August end, I gave auditions for Shakti. While Akira was about to release on 2 September, I got a call on 1 September that I was finalized for Rashmi Sharma (Producer of Shakti)’s show. I’m still a part of the show.”
“The channel didn’t know that I’m a transgender”
Kajal is currently seen in Colors’ extremely popular show Shakti , a daily based on a real life of a transgender from Punjab. She plays the antagonist Kareena who creates problems for the leading lady Soumya played by Rubina Dialik. While discussing about the daily she says, “I was facing camera after 8 months. I had a major sequence and I forgot my lines, the first day.” However, instead of being ashamed, Kajal told her director that she forgot her lines and needed his assistance. Both her director and Rubina appreciated her dare to confess something like this on her opening day. She further shares another surprising tale, “When I was selected the channel didn’t know that I’m a transgender. They found it through an interview.”
“I lost roles because of my gender”
Kajal’s work has been much cherished on the show. One prime testimony of the same is when Rashmi Sharma applauded her work during the Golden Petal Awards. “I’m the only transgender doing a daily soap.” Nonetheless, while some are appreciating some are still fazed by her reality. “I have lost a TV show because of my gender. I was selected initially but when they got to know that I was a Trans they deselected me,” she reminisces.
Major fight with Shakti co-stars
Initially her days on the sets of the popular nightly was not something that actors cherish for. Even spot boys were underbred to her. Kajal shares that once she had a major brawl with one of her co-stars from the set. Without naming the actress, Kajal shares, “I had a major fight with a female co-star from Shakti. We were just having a discussion on the sets. In the same contention I said, ‘These days 14 years old girls are getting raped,’ to this that co-star quickly reverted, ‘why do you say that? Just because it has happened with you that doesn’t mean it will happen with everyone.’” She takes a pause, after a deep breath she continues, “You can’t say this. You don’t know anything about my life. That was the time I showed her my real side. I was so upset that I would have even slapped her.”
Kajal has found bliss in her life and she wants to continue acting forever. A hunky-dory girl, Kajal says her life is changed. “The way guys used to see me was different and now it’s different. Also, I’m not scared anymore,” she concludes.