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|July 6, 1999||
'Thanks to my relationship, I've stopped trusting people'
I know it is not a solution but till I find happiness, I have to hang on to something. I certainly want to settle down in life. I need a family life. I think that is every man's dream.
You are a very successful romantic hero here. How do people treat you in real life? Like a demi-god?
No, not like a demi-god. Rajnikant was the last demi-god. There are places where we are mobbed, there are places where people say, 'Oh! it is Ajit!' I still go to snooker clubs to play but nobody bothers me.
But you have more young female fans!
Even they come and ask for only an autograph. Nobody pulls your shirt or pinches your cheeks.
I have heard that young girls are crazy about you.
I think today's girls have their head on their shoulders. They know where to draw the line.
Don't you enjoy their adulation?
I do enjoy the adulation. But I would prefer it if they liked me for the work I do than my looks. I don't want women to say, 'I like Ajit because he is good-looking'. I like them to say, 'We like him because he is a good actor'. Looks won't last forever and I cannot take any credit for my looks. See, tomorrow, I may start balding!
Did you feel like this after Aasai became a hit and girls were madly in love with you? Or, is it because you have grown more mature now that your priorities have changed?
Could be. What happened after Aasai's success was different. You know it is very difficult to handle success. After Aasai I went haywire. I signed all kinds of films.
Did you become arrogant?
No, I never became arrogant. Yes, my priorities were wrong. I couldn't handle success. I was too excited. I accepted all the films that came my way. Today, after those five flops, I am much more mature.
I tried to analyse. I think I trusted people; people connected with my work and relationship. I like to thrust that. I trusted my directors. I trusted the woman in my life. Today I scrutinise a lot before I do anything.
I knew what the directors were doing as far as my films were concerned. They say, the director is the captain of the ship. Sometimes even the captain of the ship needs guidance from his navigator and the other crew members.
I think that is where I failed. I never told them something was going wrong. Even though I knew, I didn't have the guts to tell them. I thought they may not like it, they may call me arrogant, inquisitive and interfering. Today I think it is better to be involved in the film.
Even when the ABCL film flopped, nobody said that it was an ABCL film that flopped; they said, Ajit's film flopped. That was when Vijay shot ahead of me.
Do you feel people were unfair to you?
No, no. It was my fault. Today I feel I have a share in Vaali's success. No, I am not depriving the director of any credit. He was great. Still I would like to say that my contributions were there. I was more involved in the making of the film.
What would you like to be known as, a great star or a good actor?
A good human being. Yes, I want to be the Number 1. I know a lot of people may not like me talking like this. They may say, others should say this and not me. After my accident and after the last couple of surgeries, when I was lying on bed, a lot of people wrote me off. It is not the people from the other camp who wrote me off, but people whom I helped, people who were a part of my life, people with whom I was very close to; all of them started demoralising me.
With Vaali, you are back with a bang.
No, I did not come back with a bang. I really worked hard, I slogged day and night even though I had to undergo a third surgery. I am not competing with anyone, I am competing with myself. They say, 'Vijay is your competitor'. I don't have any competitor, nor will I compete with anybody else. I am competing with myself. I want to prove to myself. I've never feared competition.
You said earlier that you wanted to pursue a career in cricket but you couldn't. You wanted to be a racing driver, you couldn't. Now you are in films. Are you scared?
Yes, none of the other dreams worked out. But this time I am all the more adamant that I will not accept failure again. That is why I am working so hard. I will not let this bad history of mine repeat or demoralise me or affect my work. I will go on and on and on.
You said you were god-fearing. What is god to you?
After Vaali was made and it became successful, one felt a sense of achievement. But when you look at the sky, the stars, the trees and nature, you are baffled. You feel you are nobody in front of nature. Forget science and scientific terms, Nature is god to me. How do I pray? By not hitting anyone on his stomach, by not depriving somebody of something, by being kind to all living things. I see god in the minutest creation. So, learning to coexist with them is a way of reaching out to god. I don't want to sound philosophical.
Is there anything wrong in being philosophical?
Does success make you happy?
No, not always. I feel now that I was better off when I was doing Aasai. I was a happier person then. Today I am not happy personally. It is like, you have everything in life still you feel something is lacking. A kind of vacuum. Now I always feel others are trying to use me. I look at people with suspicion.
Don't you trust people now?
Thanks to my relationship, I have stopped trusting people. It has made me a very bitter person. I know that is dangerous in life.
Do you feel after sometime, actors tend to lose touch with reality, miss out on a lot of things in life?
We miss out on a lot of things in life. Success has its price and we are paying the price. You see, most of us do not have a very happy personal life.
Your personal life and personal relationships are no longer personal. They become public. How do you accept this?
People think they have every right to know about your personal life too.
Is it frustrating?
But that is the price we pay for success, that is the price we pay for being offered lots of money, that is the price we pay for being recognised. Tell me how many 28-year-old guys lead an independent and self-reliant life like me?
A lot has been written about your personal life and I have always wondered how you handle it. Won't you get angry when people ask you about your personal life?
That is immaterial. I feel your personal life is your personal life.
But a lot of people ask me, what happened to your relationship with X? But even JFK had to answer a lot of private questions. Then, who am I?
You film stars have lots of money, you enjoy success and power. You lead a very comfortable life too. But today our soldiers are fighting a fierce battle under gruelling conditions in Kargil. Do you feel guilty about that?
I don't feel guilty. You join the army with a purpose. But we actors also contribute in our own way. People talk about film stars making lots of money but how many people are really successful in the film industry? Lots of people connected with the film industry also suffer a lot.
About our soldiers, our real heroes. I feel it is only a matter of opportunity. That is why I feel it should be mandatory for all citizens to undergo military training for at least two years at a certain age, like it is done in many countries. We don't have the system in India. I think we should have that. So everybody is trained to handle weapons and he or she also undergoes basic endurance tests too during the training period. So, when the call arises, all will be able to live up to it.
But given a chance, I am willing to go to the border and fight the enemy. It is only a matter of opportunity. Yes, I am ready to go right now and take the position of another soldier. I am ready to go as a suicide bomber too if that helps!
Are you speaking from the bottom of your heart?
Yes, from the bottom of my heart. And I really mean it.
Ajit Kumar's photographs: Sanjay Ghosh
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