In conversation with the star about off-beat cinema, acting his age, and more.
A man of a few words, Ajay Devgn believes in letting his work do the talking for him. He has been unabashedly reserved in the decades of his journey in Bollywood. But that’s not stopped him from experimenting in everything from comedy to action, horror and drama in Hindi cinema. As the actor prepares to play an income tax officer in Raid now, he sits down with us to chat about his work, life and everything in between. Excerpts:
You’ve explored a lot of different characters on screen over the years. Do you now feel like your options have narrowed down?
Quite the contrary, in fact. I feel that options are opening up now for actors. Earlier, they wouldn’t make movies for actors in my age group, but now they seem to me making films for us too. Everything has evolved now; there are different kinds of characters. Earlier you’d see even a senior actor would play characters of a younger age group. But now, most heroic stories seem to be concentrating on characters over the age of 40. Be it history or anything else, the vistas have now opened up.
Having said that, how important do you think it is to act your age on screen too?
Honestly, it depends. It’s good to act your age and you can’t make a fool out of yourself by playing a younger character. This is unless your character is shown going from being young to old in a specific film. The bottomline is that you need to justify playing a younger role in your movies after a certain age. And if you succeed in doing that, it’s all good.
You’re to star with Madhuri Dixit Nene again in Total Dhamaal, after many years. Are you looking forward to it?
We’ve been in touch for a while now, so it doesn’t really feel like we’ve lost out on many years and are catching up. But it will be fun working with her again. As everyone knows, she’s a fabulous actress. So yes, I am looking forward to it.
Besides a lot of commercial cinema, you’ve been one of the early proponents of off-beat cinema too. Now, we see a lot more actors trying to make a mark in both spaces…
If a Zakhm or a Raincoat were made in today’s time, they would’ve done different business. However, audiences are evolving and actors are starting to do the kind of cinema I did back in the ’90s. I’m happy that that started it.
In the ’90s, it was a kind of a natural shift. I never thought about it back in the day, but was lucky to get different kinds of roles and different kinds of films. Today, it’s very easy for me to choose from different genres. A lot of actors have still remained stuck in a bracket; they can’t do all genres, no matter how much they struggle. But I’ve been lucky that I got them, and it worked.
Do you believe that an actor is only as good as his last movie?
No, I don’t believe that any longer. If you’ve been toiling and working for the last 20-25 years, then the audience tends to accept you. Then it doesn’t happen that you have one flop movie and they forget you. We’ve invested a lot of time here and it hasn’t been easy by far. All we could have done was to work harder and get interesting stuff on screen for our fans. And we’ve done it.
How do you perceive the new vista of web series that has opened up now? Like other stars, are you planning on starring in any of these series too?
We’re working on a few scripts… let’s see how it goes. So far, I’ve not heard anything so fabulous that would make me want to act in it yet. However, I will be producing something. My team keeps coming up with ideas and we work on them accordingly. But here too, I’ve not heard anything interesting yet. But I agree that it’s a great avenue to explore.
Another thing a lot of stars are indulging in these days is their life stories. Have you been approached to write your autobiography already?
Yes, a lot many have approached me for an autobiography. But I don’t wish to write. I’m not interested in working on my autobiography.
Do we see you directing your wife Kajol on the big screen anytime soon?
No, there’s nothing as of now. I have been busy writing something, but I’ve not thought about the casting yet.
The trailer of Raid looks promising. What do you think the audience will take home via the film?
All I want is for the audiences to be entertained through this movie. The media is far more open now. Income tax-based raids would happen even back in the ’80s, but now it’s a lot more in the public eye, and everything is coming in the open for the better. I’m not trying to preach to people, but you’ve got to be honest when it comes to paying your tax. If you don’t do your duty and pay up, how will our country run?