De De Pyaar De is very new-age; we haven't revealed much in the trailer, says Ajay Devgn
Ajay Devgn, who recently turned 50, is finally playing his age on the big screen for the first time in De De Pyaar De (releases on 17 May).
It’s an extremely busy year for Ajay Devgn. As he awaits the release of romantic comedy De De Pyaar De (alongside Tabu and Rakul Preet Singh) he is also busy wrapping up Tanhaji: The Unsung Warrior in which he will be seen as a fierce Maratha commander, Tanaji Malusare. Soon after (next month), he will start filming the sports biopic based on the Indian football coach Syed Abdul Rahim. He also has pivotal and key roles to play in Bhuj: The Pride Of India and S S Rajamouli’s RRR.
Ajay Devgn began his Bollywood journey with action-romance Phool Aur Kaante in 1991, and 28 years later he continues to enjoy success, stardom and dedicated fan following without having gone through a phase where he had to struggle for a hit. Once labelled an intense action hero, the super star has successfully managed to switch gears to drama, romance and comedy.
The actor, who recently turned 50, is playing his age on the big screen for the first time in De De Pyaar De (releases on 17 May) where he will be seen romancing a girl more than two decades younger to him. The brooding hero opens up on his contemporaries, challenges of doing mainstream cinema, gennext actors, awards, #MeToo and more. Excerpts from the chat:
You’re playing a 50-year-old on screen. Isn’t it for the first time that a superstar is embracing his age?
That is not true. Even other actors have played older characters, or their age, they have played fathers. But yes, here it’s clearly stated that my character is 50. I try my best to play my age. I have played characters between 40 and 50. In fact, I don't feel comfortable playing 30 or 35 on screen now. Earlier a Hindi film hero was invariably shown as a college-going guy. But today meatier roles are being written for actors of my age and audience accepts it. So there is a lot of scope, whereas earlier we had the same kind of formulaic films where you’re seen romancing a young girl. I am talking about 20-30 years ago where you needed four songs but all that is changed today.
A majority of us, the Khans (Salman, Aamir, Shah Rukh and Saif) and Akshay (Kumar) don't feel the need to hide our age. The audience is fully aware of what our real age is. So, who do we fool? Whichever contemporary I talk to, be it Akshay or Salman, they don’t have any reservation or problem with their age, or playing their age.
It’s after a very long time that we will see you in a romantic film,
It is just that I have not heard a good script, or maybe makers have not been coming to me with scripts that I would like. It is not my decision. I have done my share of romantic films though. Here (in De De Pyaar De) the whole concept, the story, the screenplay, is all very new age and today. It’s also quite humorous and we haven’t revealed so many things in the trailer. You don’t know whether Tabu is the wife, or ex-wife and what relationship husband and wife share. There are very strong woman characters and there’s also a nice message.
You and Tabu began with Vijaypath 25 years ago and both of you continue to give hits.
Tabu and I are very old friends, we have known each other from the time we entered the industry and there is a comfort factor with her. We can say anything to each other and that chemistry works. Some of our recent films like Drishyam and Golmaal Again have also become super hits.
How was it working with Rakul Preet?
Very nice. When we started shooting I didn’t expect her to be so good. The script demanded performance with lot of depth and she has done justice to her role. She has done some performance-heavy scenes really well.
Do you look at mainstream cinema a challenge these days? Earlier a lot of films used to work but now with audience evolving it’s not so.
Everybody has become more conscious about doing good quality work. Earlier, we used to do eight to 10 films at a time without giving much thought and many of those would work. Filmmakers, too, had set ideas. Now you can’t shove anything and everything on the audience and we are concentrating on just one or two films at a time. We see to it that it is made well. All this is keeping us on our toes. We are not being lazy.
Akshay Kumar recently said that he may do action until he is 56-57 and then he might have to stop. What is your thought since you are also an action hero?
When we were 30 we thought we will be able to do action until 40, and when we turned 40 we felt we can go on until 50 but now Akshay says 56-57, and when he touches 56 he will again say that he can do action until 65. So I don’t know. Now all of us have become health conscious and I feel as good as I felt when I was 25. But I don’t know how things will shape up in the future, anything can happen tomorrow.
Masses love you for your action films but do you feel that the crowd is shifting to dubbed films from the South?
I don’t know what mass action is. Action film, yes. Tanhaji is also an action film but the idea is that both, mass and class should like the film. If you are talking of only mass, then Total Dhamaal was a big mass film. I am doing those kind of films too, but the idea is to keep both types of audiences happy.
Which among the younger crop of actors do you find promising? You will be working with Ranbir soon.
All the new guys are very good, from Ranbir to Ranveer to Varun…Who is not good today? They have all come prepared, which is great. But why feel insecure? I’m doing fine no? There is no competition. Everybody has got their space, the young generation is doing very well, and Salman, Akshay, Aamir, Shah Rukh and I are still around.
How has your equation with your contemporaries changed over the years?
It remains the same. Yes, we have mellowed down but the rapport and relationship is the same. In fact, we are the five, six, seven of us who have maintained the same relationship over the years in the industry. With the new generation of actors, and corporates coming in, the atmosphere has changed completely but we are the same with each other. There was more warmth earlier but now it has gotten more professional. So I prefer the mix of both.
Your belief in awards remains the same, except for the National Award you choose to ignore the rest.
Yes, I believe in only the National Awards, rest are just a software for television. Have you seen anybody getting an award who has not attended? So whoever attends or performs get the award. They call up and ask whether you were coming and if you say ‘No’, they change the winner (laughs sarcastically).
While you have made your stance clear on #MeToo, recently Vidya Balan said that she won’t work with Sajid Khan again. As part of film fraternity what is your take? Do you think one should not work with an accused person?
There is a difference between an accused and proven guilty. One who is proven guilty, one should not work with that person, I totally agree. But accused? Now I don’t know what is happening in somebody’s personal life. If somebody is just accused and the 'victim' is not coming forward then I don’t know the truth. How can we be called fair? You media people, me, all of us need to be fair. But if you start believing that someone is proven guilty then you can say that I don’t want to work with that person. That’s fine.
What has your 28 years in the industry taught you?
Nothing actually, every day you realise that I didn’t know this. I thought I knew everything but there is more to learn. I won’t change anything either, I am happy the way I am.
Is it a conscious decision to have one rom-com, one historical and one sports film in your kitty?
Maybe conscious, or maybe not. Because at that point of time I loved these scripts, I must have been also conscious about the fact that I don’t want to do two similar kind of comedies back-to-back, or two back-to-back similar films.
Do you plan to go digital?
As a producer I am diversifying into digital but as an actor maybe maybe not.
Do you see yourself directing again?
I’m working on something and can let you know only next year.
It has been 20 years of your marriage, what does it take for a successful one?
I don’t know. For each person it is different. Most importantly she (Kajol) is who she is and I remain who I am. That is most important, we haven’t changed that. And we stick together through thick and thin.
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