Ajay Devgn on reuniting with Indra Kumar after Ishq, and experimenting with VFX in Total Dhamaal
Ajay Devgn talks about a myriad range of issues, from the rehashing of old Bollywood songs to whether he will do a film like Raincoat at this point of his career.
Despite the actor's more popular brooding and intense onscreen persona, director Indra Kumar vouches for Ajay Devgn's excellent comic timing. To substantiate his viewpoint, the Total Dhamaal director, in an informal chat, cites a scene from his 1997 comic blockbuster Ishq. He mentions that it is difficult to take eyes off Devgn in the bank robbery scene despite the presence of Aamir Khan.
Dressed casually, it is a busy day ahead for Ajay Devgn who has a series of interview lined up at a suburban five-star hotel on his upcoming film Total Dhamaal. Ajay remains one of the few from Bollywood for whom no question is out of bounds. He calmly listens and answers anything that is thrown at him. Excerpts from the interview below.
On trying his hand at comedy
"I did not know that I had this streak of comedy in me. Some elements from Ishq appealed to me and I just signed that film. That’s how it all started but I was surely uncomfortable and conscious doing comedy in Ishq. Indra Kumar’s comedy, at that point of time, was in a different zone. I was a little awkward than but now, that awkwardness is completely gone. It’s not that you cannot do comedy. The sense of humour was always there but to adapt to somebody else’s humour, that too in a different way, was initially a little tough. Now, I do things the way I want to do it. At that time, it was more like ‘I have not done it so let’s follow the other guy’ approach and that was a process in itself.
On slapstick vs subtle comedy
They both have merged (now). Initially, there used to be a lot of physical comedy but now along with physical comedy, good writing too has become a prerequisite because in the current era, audiences will never accept a substandard product. At that time, people used to get away just by making faces. In the '90s, there used to be a special track for comedians which used to be physical and not much was required for it. But now, the plot has changed and (slapstick and subtle humour) have merged into one. My character in Golmaal is both loud and serious at the same time. I think characterisations have changed."
On the fear of failure
"I take success and failure in one go but you do get little disturbed when you face failure, and its only because you have worked on something for a substantial period of time. But at the same time, I don’t have insecurity of any sort. You only try analyse what went wrong. You imagine a film when you hear a script but while shooting, there are times when you realise that it’s not shaping the way you had thought and then you feel bad.”
On possible return to serious, meaningful cinema
"I would do it. I love that kind of cinema. In fact, everybody is doing it now and it's working too. At that time there were no multiplexes so audiences never went to see such films. The new crop is making some good films. About the older lot, I won’t say that they have become outdated now, but they still live in their own world.”
On songs being rehashed for Bollywood films, like 'Paisa Paisa' in Total Dhamaal
“There is definitely dearth of good music today. Being from a different generation, I still like that music more than today’s music. The current generation might not agree to my thoughts. The lyrics of the past era can never come back today. There is just no one today who can write good songs, barring two or three people. If we require a song with depth, it’s almost like searching such people with a begging bowl. I am not saying the current generation does not have emotions but the depths have now changed.”
On promoting VFX in Bollywood through films like Shivaay and Total Dhamaal
“I did the first CG in the country and at that point, I did it myself. I have always been technically sound and the Remo Fernandes song in Pyaar To Hona Hi Tha marked the first usage of CG in the country. The machines that had come in to the country than had no operators so I took it upon myself to finish the task.”
On staying relevant after 28 years of acting career
“One has to change with today’s times. It’s all about the people you hang out with and you have to be open all your life. You can’t wake up one morning and say that that I have to be with the times. You have to meet the other generation and listen to their point of view. Forget about being an actor, to be relevant as a human being in society today, if I don’t adapt to what my children think or what they like or don’t like, I won’t be relevant as a father too."
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