He looks serious on the big screen, but in real life, actor Ajay Devgn is chilled out. In an interview promoting his new film Drishyam, Devgn spoke with us at length not only about the film, but also on the wheels that keep Bollywood moving.
Q. In Drishyam, you play an intense role after a long time. What kept you away from roles like this earlier?
Ajay. I was looking for a role as brilliant mine in Drishyam because I was told that the audience is missing my intense side. But I was waiting for a script better than Company, Zakhm and Gangajaal. Hats off to the writer of Drishyam who has done such a fabulous script.
Q. How would you rate Nishikant Kamat as a director?
Ajay. Nishikant has done an excellent job as a director.
Q. After playing a series of larger than life characters, how difficult was it for you to play a common man in Drishyam?
Ajay. I am a simple man myself, so I related to my character in Drishyam. Nishikant had just one problem with me initially, and that was my walking style. He told me that I walk in a very heroic manner and I need to tone that down. I actually do walk like a Singham in real life, that's how I am! The only thing I did for this character was that I tried not to walk at all.
Q. Are you bothered by the possibility of comparison with the original version of the film?
Ajay. Comparisons are bound to happen, but I can confidently say that our film is as brilliant as the original. But Mohanlal and Kamal Haasan are fabulous actors. Even if people say that the two did a better job than me, I wouldn't mind because they are actually better than me.
Q. Is there any particular role you'd like to portray in the future?
Ajay. I would not mind playing a 60-year-old guy on screen as it is very challenging. People accept such characters now. Look at me: I'm stronger now than I was when I was 25.
Q. Do you think spoilers on social media can ruin the thrill of a film?
Ajay. Irrespective of the climax, Drishyam will have a repeat audience because of the tight screenplay. The film is not about what happens. It is about how it happens. This is not a suspense thriller.
Q. Do you worry about the box office performance of your films?
Ajay. I want to do only films that will work at the box office. The box office is the reason you make films. You cannot make great promos with a film like Drishyam: it does not have punchy dialogues and action. You'll see that all films like this have a slow start at the box office, but then do well after word spreads. I am not sure how big Drishyam will be, but I am confident that word of mouth will make it a success.
Q. What do you think about big stars booking major holidays for their films?
Ajay. No A-list star books a release date. They just announce the release date of their films. No one comes out in open and says, 'we are releasing our film on this holiday, don't you dare you release your film with us'. We are not blocking the holiday. But everybody has a right to release a film on festival days, so clashes are bound to happen. Business will be divided, but you need holidays for your film to earn Rs 200 crore. So everybody wants to release their film on a holiday. Whichever film is better will show at the box office.
Q. Is a film with Kajol (Devgn's actress wife) in the pipeline?
Ajay. I will be producing a film starring Kajol. It will go on the floors this year end. I will not be acting in the film.
Q. Did the delay in the shooting of Shivaay affect the film in any way?
Ajay. It has just bettered the film! We are now at the pre- production stage. Shivaay is a drama with larger than life action.