Ajay Devgn Interview, by DIVYA SOLGAMA
“I know somebody who got accused (in #MeToo), but then his daughter stopped eating and couldn’t go to school,” says Ajay Devgn.
The actor’s next is a rom-com film ‘De De Pyaar De’ that also stars Tabu and Rakul Preeti Singh in lead. In an exclusive conversation, he speaks about the film, working experience with Tabu and Rakul in the film, and also about OTT platforms, #MeToo movement, views toward award functions, his favorite romantic movies, favorite actors from the younger generation, and so on.
You are seen lesser in romantic films these days, so why De De Pyaar De? What made to you to choose this film?
The film is a very new age kind of film. It has strong women characters in it and also the script is quite different in which some nice message is also being put up. So everything is put together here, which makes the film a complete entertainment.
As an actor, how important it is to play or act your age on screen?
I obviously try my best to play my age on screen. The characters between the ages of 40s and 50s are the ones which I am generally playing, and so you will never see me playing a character who is 25-year-old.
For instance even in Golmaal Again, you were seen with Parineeti Chopra and there were dialogues like you are quite older than your love interest. So do you think you are getting more comfortable with this now?
I was always comfortable, otherwise I won’t have accepted only and instead I would change that dialogue in Golmaal Again.
Don’t you think that you are getting more realistic with respect to your films these days?
Because characters of our age are being accepted by the audience and so the scripts are being written with respect to it. Hence, there’s a lot of scope. Earlier some 20-30 years back, films were made with at least 4-songs in it where here romances with a young girl, dances with her and so on. At that time, such things were running successfully, but things have changed now.
Your film Dil Kya Kare was also a love-triangle film, so how different is De De Pyaar De with the former one?
When you will watch the film, you will realize that it’s completely a different film altogether. De De Pyaar De is humorous, and also many things aren’t being revealed in trailer. You don’t even know that Tabu is playing my wife or ex-wife, and what relationship actually husband and wife share.
Why haven’t you done enough romantic movies? Most of your films are action oriented but some of your romantic films have worked before, like ‘Dilwale’, ‘Diljale’, ‘Pyaar Toh Hona Hi Tha’, etc.
May be people now-a-days are coming to me with less romantic scripts, so actually it’s not my decision. When scripts come to me, some of them I don’t like and the ones I like, I do it.
You have worked a lot with Tabu and you both know each other since a long time. Does that help in building that required chemistry in your films?
There’s a comfort zone between us, because we are very comfortable with each other and there’s a great bond and understanding between us. We know each other since quite a long time now, and so we keep saying anything to each other. And so, that chemistry works in our films.
How was your experience working with Rakul Preet Singh?
It was for sure very nice working with Rakul. When I started working her, I didn’t expect certain things from her, because the script demands depth performance. But eventually, she has performed very well.
Director (Akiv Ali) of De De Pyaar De is also an editor of the film, so was there any different you feel during his direction on the sets? Also, he is making his debut as a director with this film, so what’s your take on that?
Not really! He didn’t behave like an editor on sets. Like any other director, he took extra shots and then cut it on editing table. He is also very capable and so we didn’t felt like this is his first film. He has edited so many films in past and gone through that whole process, so he knows his job.
What do you think is the biggest challenge for mainstream cinema now that the audience has changed?
I think it’s just that everybody has become more conscious about doing scripts with good quality work. Earlier we used to do 7-8 films in row and somehow they were running successfully as well. But now audiences are not accepting this because they want good films. And so, people these days are concentrating working on one film and concentrating that it should be good.
OTT Platforms are now a big thing, so are you considering yourself in making digital debut in one of such platform? And how do you see the future of OTT platforms with respect to the films?
As a producer I already have, but as an actor I don’t know, maybe yes or maybe no. When I will hear something great, only then will consider to debut as an actor in such platforms. And as far as the future of OTT is concerned, it will stay and so will cinema. I mean you can’t be staying at home 24/7 and watching digital. So you will get out for some time, and an average Indian family likes to go out for a movie or dinner. So I think cinema and OTT both will stay.
Is there any role which you feel like it is yet to do in my career?
To be honest, I can’t think of that role. Because whenever you hear something new, you realize that I haven’t done this type role before in my career. But on the other side, you also feel that you have done every kind of character in your films.
Luv Ranjan (writer-producer of De De Pyaar De) is generally known for making different type of comedy films, probably in the lines of Hrishikesh Mukherjee. So how different you feel with respect to your earlier comedy films and De De Pyaar De?
It’s obviously different, but I enjoy doing such type of film because they are written in a very classy way. It’s not that I don’t enjoy doing Golmaal kind of films. It’s a different kind of comedy, and so that is the mindset of people. You know what you are making or adding in a film.
According to you, till what age do you think you can do action? Akshay (Kumar) recently said that he will do till his age of 56. What about you?
See when we were in our 30s, we used to think we will do it till our 40s. Then in 40’s, we decided to do till 50s. Now if Akshay tells that he will be doing till his age of 56, then probably at that time he will tell you till 65. So, it’s difficult to tell. Everybody has become health conscious, and so everyone is getting physically fit these days. Physically, I still feel as good as 25-year-old man now. Also I don’t know about future, because anything can happen tomorrow.
It’s been 20 years of your marriage with Kajol. How the journey it has been till now?
Well, it’s different for every couple. She is herself and I am in myself state, and that’s the most important thing that we have not changed. We have been there for each other through thick and thin whenever required.
What’s coming next after De De Pyaar De?
After this, I will be seen in Taanaj: The Unsung Warrior
Talking about Taanaji, tell us something more about it?
The set of it is huge. We don’t have enough size-floor here in Mumbai, and it’s there only in Hyderabad. And so we have built that huge enough according to its requirement.
You are not much seen in award functions? What’s the reason behind this?
Neither I perform on the award functions, nor do I attend it. Except for the National Award, I don’t believe in any other awards, because it’s just software for television. Awards are only given to those who attend the functions, and so those don’t attend it are not getting any awards. Have you seen getting any awards who has not attended it? They ask you first to attend the function, and when you say a ‘No’ to them, they will change the name. So, it’s not authentic!
What makes you say ‘Yes’ to a script? How do you know that it will work for the audience or at box-office?
When you decide to do a film, you feel that it will work. But sometimes you go wrong, and while shooting you realize that something wrong is happening. After that you try to rectify it, but if things are beyond your control, then you leave the effort of rectification. And by the time movie releases, you get to know that this is not what you have expected while choosing the script.
Akshay had a hit with ‘Kesari’ recently. Do you feel bad that it was a subject which you were supposed to do earlier?
No, why will I feel bad? I have let it go myself when they started making a film on it and took an amicable call that I won’t make it.
You have a huge mass following because of your action films? When do we see you in some mass action films?
I don’t know what a mass action film is? I know an action film, where I can say Taanaji is also an action film. But the idea is that the mass should also like it, and so does the class people. And that’s what we are trying to do.
A lot of your contemporary actors are also entering into Television these days, so when will we see your appearance in it?
Not yet, because nothing I have heard as of now that suits my liking. To be honest, people come with certain concepts which I really don’t like and so it has to be something spectacular. Otherwise, it’s too much of time and effort, which I believe is pointless.
As De De Pyaar De is a rom-com, tell us about your favorite romantic films?
Titanic, The Notebook, etc.
How’s your equation with your contemporary actors?
It’s the same. The rapport and relationship is same like before. In fact, we 5-7 actors share the same relationship in the industry and so we are like same with each other. Rest because of the new generation and corporate culture coming in, the atmosphere has been changed completely. Earlier there was more warmth, but today it’s more professional.
Talking about younger generation, who among are your favorite ones?
All are very good in their own way. From Ranbir Kapoor to Ranveer Singh, all are good today and have come prepared which is very good. The new generation is really prepared these days.
Earlier, actors could do anything in a film and get away with it. But now the scene has changed because the audience has changed. What’s your take on it?
Well it’s good, as it is keeping on our toes. So we can’t afford to be lazy at all and constantly try to do best.
Regarding the #MeToo movement, many have decided to not work with the accused. What’s your take on it?
See, there’s difference between accused and proven guilty. If someone who is proven guilty, then definitely you should not work with them. But if someone is just accused, then it becomes a very dicey situation as it can go both ways. I don’t know what’s happening in somebody’s personal life.
Also, is it justified that if they are not proven guilty, then their livelihood is being taken from them?
It should not be done. We are not thinking about their family and children. One can accuse anyone, but what about their personal life? I know somebody who got accused, but then his daughter stopped eating and couldn’t go to school. One just cannot imagine what they must be going through.
Lastly, what has your 28 years’ of experience in the industry taught you?
Nothing actually! Every day you realize that I didn’t realize this or that. I thought I knew everything, but there’s still more to learn.