More than two decades and two National Awards later, Ajay Devgn retains the enthusiasm of a newcomer. He keeps on trying newer genres and keeps on returning to his strength: intense action drama. He doesn’t mind indulging in slapstick comedy likeSon of Sardar after doing serious films like Zakhmand Bhagat Singh.
Capable of giving different shades toone role, his police officer of Gangajal is markedly different from the police officer of Singham. His gangster of Company has different nuances than the gang lord of Once Upon A Time in Mumbai. Not to forget his romantic shades in Hum Dil De ChukeSanamwhere he makes you believe that this guy can’t even kill a fly.
And he doesn’t shout from the rooftops to declare that he is doing something different all the time. He emerges from his shell only when a film is round the corner. No controversy, no link ups, just work.
He recently joined forces with Prabhudheva to do a blend of serious action and some loud comedy in Action Jackson.
Extracts from an interview:
You have completed 23 years in the industry. How has the journey been?
You know, I didn’t even realize how 23 years passed away. When you keep yourself busy, love your work, you don’t realize how time flies. Touchwood! I have been very lucky that I have not seen a low phase in these two decades. Someone analyzed that in 23 years, there was only a single year when I didn’t give a hit, otherwise, every year I have given hit films.
You keep coming out of your comfort zone. Isn’t it risky?
I don’t think it is risky. In the 90s, nobody was ready to work with GovindNihalani and Prakash Jha because they were considered art house directors but I worked with them, enjoyed the experience and learnt many things from them. Now people think commercial cinema is easier but it is not. Whatever I learnt while working with the likes of Mahesh Bhatt, Prakash Jha and Ram GovindNihalani, I apply it in so-called commercial films as well.
PrabhuDheva has made you dance. Was that fun or challenging?
No it wasn’t challenging. I was comfortable because I knew that he understands that I am a bad dancer so it’s his problem not mine! And yes he pushed me and at the same time made me feel very comfortable. I think he made it very easy for me because as Prabhu also says that he studies the body language of an actor and then makes them dance accordingly.
After working in so many genres, how do you pick films?
It depends on many factors. When I listen to the script, the things I consider are: Do I get excited about the concept? Do I think that the role is challenging enough and does it require me? Apart from all that, the most important thing is who is the director? Will he be able to conceive and shoot the way it’s been thought? Also, the producer and the whole team is important because will they be able to execute the way we are talking about and will they be able to release it properly the way the films are released today? All this has to fall in place.
Are you rebellious?
I don’t follow the norms of the Industry, my way of work is different. So yes, I am rebellious. People around me tell me to promote myself but I am not that kind of person. I don’t do it.
As you began your career with action films, what’s the difference between today’s action and the times when you made your debut?
I think the whole technology has changed now. It was not as safe as it is now. Action was considered to be a dangerous thing but today technology has made it easier and safer. Cables have made it easier to do action scenes but I always try not to use cables to keep it as real as possible.
Does the use of body doubles has increased?
That is nothing new. Earlier also there were some actors who wanted to do most of the action scenes themselves. In my films like Singham and now Action Jackson, there is no body double.
Have you ever used action in real?
Yes in my twenties!
Have you knocked down anyone?
Many (laughs) …
Recently you made a statement that you don’t believe in six and eight pack abs.
If you consult your doctor he would also tell you that six pack or eight pack abs reduces the immunity level of a person. It makes you weak. They look nice but they can make you physically weak. I believe you should be muscular and fit. I don’t want to promote eight-pack abs. Today’s youth should not follow this fad blindly. I think they should concentrate on overall fitness of the body.
You have described PM Narendra Modi as the best action hero on Twitter.
I am not a political person but I always believe that he is the best action hero. It’s about his honesty towards his work and the way he manages his work. He is a team player. People have faith in him now.
Recently, Saif Ali Khan said that Bollywood doesn’t have good writers. What is your experience?
There is a dearth of good writers in most industries. If we talk of Hollywood they are also making same kind of films.
Since Bollywood is now looking for a global audience, are there any lessons to be learnt from Hollywood?
The basic difference is the budget. We have restricted budgets. I think if we get the kind of budgets that are available to them we could easily match them. It’s not a big deal, I guess. In the last few years we have seen that the budgets of Bollywood films have swelled and we can see a marked improvement in the technical side of our films.
What would you like to say about Bollywood rivalries?
It’s not there. At least in this generation there is no rivalry between actors. We all are cool. When we meet we meet casually. We help and support each other.
You worked with Sonakshi Sinha again and with YamiGautam for the first time. How would you describe your experience?
Sonakshi is very comfortable to work with. I have a great rapport as we did Son of Sardar together. She is a thorough professional and has got no inhibitions. You know when you ask her to dance, she will just freak out. She is very comfortable. Yami is a very good actress. I worked for the first time with her and it was very comfortable.
Several films do exceedingly well at the domestic box office but don’t have the same kind of impact overseas. Do you feel, just like in India, actors now need to promote their movies abroad in various cities as well to create the awareness?
I guess so and the mind-set is also little different for Indian audience and the audience overseas. But the films are doing well there also and we are trying to push them and promote them overseas as much as we can and we will do.