Ajay tells us why himmatwala flopped
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- Published 7.05.13
|Kareena I have worked with in the Golmaal films and it’s nice to explore our chemistry and equation beyond just the comedy setting|
People think that our jobs are very easy. They should have seen me a few days ago when I was doing a riot scene with burning tyres in 40°C,” Ajay Devgn told t2 as he took a break at the Taj Mahal Palace in Bhopal after canning what looked like a tough shot. In black waistcoat and moss-green spectacles, the action star lit up before settling for a quick chat.
This is your first film with Prakash Jha after three years, the last being Raajneeti in 2010…
I think this film is just like all Prakash Jha films. Being commercial and yet managing to stick to reality. This character has the same intensity that you would have found in my characters in Gangaajal and Apaharan and Raajneeti. A lot of people were asking me: ‘Why don’t you do more such films?’ But the truth is that you have to strike a balance between all kinds of films and there must also come a script that has to suit you and appeal to you. Just because suddenly people want to see me in serious roles again doesn’t mean that I will take up anything that comes my way. Thankfully, Satyagraha is that kind of a film that will appeal to people who like to see me in serious and intense roles.
So do you get a little flustered when you are criticised for doing too many comic roles?
Not really. I will continue doing commercial potboilers… I have nothing against them. In fact, I like doing them. Today, whatever position I have… more as a star than as an actor, is because of those films.
What can you tell us about your character in Satyagraha?
I play someone who is slightly on the darker side, but that’s not because he chooses to be. He hasn’t had a father since he was very young. He has been exposed to a lot at a very impressionable age. He isn’t negative but he definitely is stubborn about a lot of things. He is concerned about the state of the country and about how nothing seems to be happening and he wants to do something about it, all of which may not be smooth or correct. He’s a man of action.
I am actually so happy that such characters are now being written in Bollywood. Ten years ago, people were not aware of the kind of corruption in our system, but now even a kid can rattle off names like ‘2G scam’ and ‘coal scam’. He knows his scams as much as he knows his Anna Hazare! (Laughs)
You have been a long-time collaborator with Prakash Jha. Is it always hunky-dory or does familiarity breed contempt sometimes?
(Laughs) We try not to pull out each other’s hair! But on a serious note, Prakashji and I, most often than not, think alike. He is a director who understands the actor in me completely. We started off having a director-actor equation, but over the years and in the course of so many films, we have become good friends. There are many times in a shot when he doesn’t tell me anything, but I know exactly what he wants out of me. That’s the comfort we have with each other.
So does it pinch when he doesn’t sign you for a film? You weren’t there in Aarakshan and Chakravyuh…
No, no! (Laughs) Prakashji hasn’t ever told me not to work with Rohit (Shetty) or some other director, so why should I get upset if he chooses to work with others? It is always the director’s choice when it comes to casting and if he felt I didn’t have a place in those films, I respect that. At the same time, I know that if today he wants me to do a film with him, he will hunt me down even if that means pursuing me to the end of the earth! (Laughs) I am his well-wisher and I will always want his films to do well, irrespective of whether I am there in them or not.
You have great company at the shoot with Amitabh Bachchan, Kareena Kapoor, Arjun Rampal…
Amitji (smiles)… it’s always such a pleasure to work with him. He’s such a consummate professional and he’s so good on screen that he makes you look good too. No matter how small a scene is, he will make sure that he comes in fully prepared and that’s something that eggs on all of us as his co-stars to give in more than our best.
Kareena I have worked with in the Golmaal films and it’s nice to explore our chemistry and equation beyond just the comedy setting.
How much did the failure of Himmatwala set you back?
It really didn’t do as badly as people are making it out to be (smiles). It made (Rs) 12 crore on the first day, which is very good. See, we made a film that we thought had a market, but somehow it wasn’t appreciated by the majority. That’s something we have to accept and move on, but all of us stand by the film.
Why do you think it didn’t work?
I think today’s generation really didn’t appreciate the over-the-top drama of the ’80s. Sajid (Khan, the director) thought that he could revisit the kind of cinema that Bollywood was known for in the ’80s… masala and melodramatic… clearly, the audience wasn’t interested (smiles).