Says Ajay Devgn on why he doesn’t like watching himself in his earlier films. Excerpts
After ‘Rascals’ bombed at the box-office and audience rejected this crude slapstick film, Ajay Devgn came out with a statement that he will never do any film, which has double-meaning jokes or vulgarity. True to his word, he has stayed away from anything remotely corny, making sure that his family audience is happy. Now he is back in the remake of the 80s hit ‘Himmatwala’ directed by his college buddy Sajid Khan. In a candid chat, Ajay Devgn talks about wearing white keds, dancing and his biggest critic.
Excerpts from the interview:
How did ‘Himmatwala’ come about?
Sajid and I are college friends and he has always been a ‘Himmatwala’ freak. Right from the college days, he has been talking about remaking ‘Himmatwala’ when he becomes the director. When he called me up, I knew what it was about. This film is an out and out commercial film with bit action, comedy and melodrama like the 80s. So it was nice revisiting that era.
Even before a script is in place, the comparisons between the old and the new had started. What are the challenges involved in living up to the audience’ expectation?
There are no challenges involved because when you rewrite a film, you completely rewrite it. Apart from the base idea, the sister and mother angle has been explore in lot of films earlier. Eventually when script got ready, it had nothing to do with ‘Himmatwala’. We have just retained the base idea, the title and two songs.
Ajay Devgn's son on the sets
In terms of bringing out the nuances in a character, how much is improvisation and how much is it to the script?
You have to improvise. You have to be the character and feel the character. But you also have to do as the script demands. When you are thorough with the script, you don’t even realize what nuances you are bringing into the character.
How important is the family audience to you?
I have decided not to do any film that you can’t watch with family. I was recently watching a film when my father (action director Veeru Devgan) got up and went away. Later, when I asked him he said that he was embarrassed to watch some scenes with his family. My father is from the film industry, if he can walk out, you can imagine how the audience feels. After Rascals, I had made a statement I will not do any film which has vulgarity in it. You need to entertainment everyone. Over the last two years, I have done film which doesn’t have vulgarity or double meaning. I believe in that policy.
How was it to match steps ala Jeetendra?
I don’t like to dance. But Farah and Sajid were both clear that they would give me steps which I am comfortable in.
Behind the scenes: Himmatwala
Which was the most challenging scene to shoot?
I won’t say challenging but I was a bit cautious about the tiger fight because an animal is an animal at the end of the day. This is the second time I have fought a tiger in life after ‘Vijaypath’ but things were tougher then.
As an actor what do you enjoy more- comedy or action?
An actor’s job is to act. When he is acting, he doesn’t think of the genre. I don’t even know what I am going to do in the shot before the shot. If I have to do a camera rehearsal, I do a rough thing. If I have done a lot of comedy, then I would want to switch to something else so that I don't become repetitive and start getting bored of what I am doing. Once you are bored of your work, there is no point in working anymore.
After doing numerous films, do you feel nervous on the first day of the shoot?
You are stressed every time you give a shot. There is an apprehension if you would be able to pull it off or not. I think that works because the moment you feel that everything is very easy, it is over and you stop looking
Have your reached that point in your career where you realize that you have done almost every kind of role?
I don’t think that way. I hear scripts and I instantly like them or don’t like them. I am enjoying what I am doing right now. There can't be lot of different roles and only once in a while you will get a role which is completely different from anything you have done. For the other times, you have to make your roles different from what has already been done earlier and that is the most challenging part. If I do a 'Company' and then I hear the script of 'Once Upon a Time in Mumbai', both have me playing a don. So my challenge was how to make it completely different from each other.
Do you watch your earlier films?
Not much. Everytime I watch my past films, even the once two years ago, I get embarrassed and I feel I can do it better.
Can you leave the actor out when you are watching a film?
Yes I can. I do that. But that actor stays also and you feel that this actor has done a brilliant job or I could’ve done better.
Who is your biggest critic?
My daughter. She is ten-year old and she knows everything. She watches film and she is very accurate. She will see the promo and she says it is not working.
Do we see you directing another film?
I need one and half off to even think about direction. I have scripts but I don’t want to break my momentum.