Ajay Devgn: I knew Himmatwala wouldn't work
Although his last film Himmatwala tanked at the box office, Ajay Devgn feels he is in a space where one flop doesn’t affect his stardom.
The actor is getting ready for his serious turn in Prakash Jha's Satyagraha, which releases on August 30.
Ajay talks to Sonil Dedhia about the new film, his plans for Singham 2, and reveals who his biggest critic is.
Your last film Himmatwala tanked at the box office. Was that disappointing?
We knew that when we first saw it. While shooting the film, there was a feeling that something had gone wrong.
What do you think went wrong?
It’s wrong to be critical about my director (Sajid Khan). But I think the 1980s were shown and shot like the 1980s instead of giving it a contemporary look like we did in Once Upon A Time In Mumbaai.
That I think did not work well with the audience.
Image: Ajay Devgn
Photographs: Jitu Savlani
'One flop doesn't affect my stardom'
But when you see a film going wrong, don’t you feel like backing out or asking the director to rework it?
When you do a film you can’t back out as you have committed to it and there is a lot of money involved.
It is not ethical to back out.
Does one flop film affect the stardom you have achieved?
No, it doesn’t affect me. It is not that I am running short of offers or my price is going to come down.
People also know that when a film has not worked, it’s the film’s problem. The actor has been accepted for so many years.
Image: Ajay Devgn in Himmatwala
'I like doing aggressive films'
You’ve worked with Prakash Jha many times before. What challenge did he bring to the table this time around?
The challenge was to bring about a great balance between realism and commercialism.
I like doing aggressive films and his films have that aggression.
His films target the youth because today’s youth is aggressive and is concerned with what is happening in the country. The situation wasn’t the same 20 years ago.
Right from Arjun Rampal to Manoj Bajpayee, all have said that they did Satyagraha because they have good relations with Prakash Jha. Was it the same with you?
Everybody does something or the other because of relations. But the bottom line is you need to be professional, which the newer generation of actors is.
We do work for friends and we suffer but the new generation does not give in to that, which is good. There’s hardcore professionalism in the current lot.
Image: Kareena Kapoor and Ajay Devgn in Satyagraha
'Entertainment does not always mean making people laugh'
Do you think the film will bring about a difference in society?
I hope it does. Honestly, I don’t know about making a difference, but it will entertain them.
People who are concerned will get a message and a guideline how to go ahead with it.
Despite your repeated stress on Satyagraha being a commercial film, it does have an unconventional feel…
I would say it depends on what you call a commercial film. If having an item song, fight sequences etc is commercial then Satyagraha is not commercial.
But I don’t think this is the right definition. Bhaag Milkha Bhaag is also a commercial film. Today, good films are working.
Satyagraha is not a preachy or documentary film and neither is it about Anna Hazare’s movement. The movement is just the backdrop of the film; the real story is an emotional drama, a personal drama.
Entertainment does not always mean making people laugh. It is about exciting you enough that you forget your problems and connect with the characters. A horror film scares the audience yet it is entertaining.
Image: Arjun Rampal, Amitabh Bachchan and Ajay Devgn in Satyagraha
'I am happy that Chennai Express is doing good business'
Have you seen Chennai Express?
No. But I have heard that it has done well. I am happy that the film is doing good business.
The current problem regarding the number of screens between Chennai Express and Once Upon A Time In Mumbai Dobaara is reminiscent of the problem you faced with Son of Sardaar. Isn’t it about time the issue is handled seriously?
The issue needs to be sorted out and that is why I am in court. It isn’t going to help only me. By going to court I am spending money not for Son of Sardaar but to eradicate this problem which I had foreseen much earlier.
I feel this problem is only going to multiply and whoever did not believe in me earlier will suffer. I don’t care, let them suffer!
Image: Ajay Devgn
Photographs: Jitu Savlani
'I have become calmer and more secure after marriage'
You and Kajol have been blissfully married for the last 14-15 years. What is the secret behind your successful marriage?
There is no secret. You just have to believe in your commitment and that’s what keeps you going. It’s only when you are committed that you do the right things.
What has Kajol added to your personality?
I have become much calmer and more secure. I am happy.
What kind of films does your family like to see you in?
Kajol likes me in all kind of films. But my daughter (Nysa) likes to see me more in entertaining films.
Image: Kajol and Ajay Devgn
Photographs: Pradeep Bandekar
'My daughter is my biggest critic'
Who is your biggest critic at home?
My daughter! She alone is the one to give genuine comments. She openly tells me ‘If you are not comfortable doing a song then why did you do it?’
Having spent so many years in the industry, what gets you going each day?
Usually it’s exciting to go to work. But sometimes, during the shooting itself, you realise that the film is not going to work. That’s when it becomes difficult and you really have to work for work’s sake.
Image: AjaY Devgn
'We are planning to release Singham 2 on Independence Day next year'
There are reports that Singham 2 will release on Independence Day next year. Is that true?
Yes, we are thinking about it.
Does that mean you will be clashing with Akshay Kumar’s Gabbar?
There will be no clash. One of us will release our film.
Are you taking precautions to ensure that no other film clashes with yours?
I wouldn’t want two films to release together so that nobody suffers as this is one industry.
But if you have to clash then you have to go all out like I did with Son of Sardaar and came out victorious.
Image: Ajay Devgn in Singham