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In conversation with an honest, non-diplomatic actor: Ajay Devgn

By Pratishtha Malhotra Wednesday, Sep 13, 2017 02:15: PM

Ajay Devgan is one of those few people who does not refrain from speaking the truth. He has been honest in the past and is still the same. Come what may but you cannot take that away from him. PRATISHTHA MALHOTRA chats with Devgn about being a producer to making a cross over with Singham and Dabbang.

Many people are connecting your film Kachche Dhaage to Baadshaho. Do you see any similarity in both of your films?


I think you’re connecting to it because Kachche Dhaage was also about Rajasthan and desert. The look of the film is the only similarity between Baadshaho and Kachche Dhaage. Baadshaho refers to all the six guys from the team. All the six guys are street-smart and you won’t get to know who is conning whom. So it is a very interesting space which has a relationship in its backdrop. Bhawani is very smart, but very emotional. Gradually you would get to know how every layer of the character unfolds, especially mine. He is a very earthy guy who has got his own language. He is smart, strong but emotional.


The backdrop of the emergency might have lured you to pull out some political references of the time too.


There is no political connection in the film. It is just a story set in the era of emergency but in totality, it is a film about these six characters.


Speaking of action, Vidyut Jamwal is a trained martial artist and to be able to work with him must have been a riot.


I worked with Vidyut for the first time. He is a very sweet guy and is very good at action. We have a fight scene in the film and it is fun when the other person is also good at action.


You have been very closely associated with action in films. Now that you’ve seen it evolve yourself, do you enjoy CGI based sequences more or the parts you perform yourself?


I like the real one. If you see Shivaay, the action was larger than life but very realistic. There were no cars flying, no person flying, it was very real. CGI today is involved in everything because you have to erase a lot of things. The real use of CGI isn’t to create something, but there are a lot of other aspects to it. In today’s time, it is impossible to make a film without CGI as that is used even in the normal scenes.


Your last film Shivaay didn’t get the applause that you must have hoped for. Did it dishearten you?


I think Shivaay was fine. I should have made a little shorter film and that’s the only thing that concerns me.

Many pundits had a lot of say about the way you looked when you had started out. Do you think they have got their answer a couple of decades later?


I didn’t care about it as I thought they were idiots. I still think most of the trade pundits are idiots. You can’t take them seriously.


You’re not just an actor but a producer as well. Do you think that burdens your creative approach as box office must be a crucial point of debate?


Earlier nobody was printing it and hence it was not there, today you guys are printing and hence people have started taking numbers seriously. To me, Box Office numbers matter because if you invest a certain amount, you need to recover. But that’s not the only concern for me as even appreciation matters a lot.


Recently the biggest films including Tubelight and Jab Harry Met Sejal failed to live up to the massive expectations, following which the distributors urged the stars to refund their money. What is your take on this?


On humanitarian grounds, if somebody wants to refund it’s fine. But if I talk technically, nobody can ask the producer to refund. If I have earned something and you have not, I will be happy to share. Technically there are two ways of buying a film: one is Minimum Guarantee and other is Advance. Some distributors buy a film in advance which means they would buy the film for say Rs 10 crore for a territory. If the film covers Rs 10 crore, then it’s fine but if it doesn’t then you (producer) pay me back. MG is minimum guarantee which means you have bought my film for Rs 10 crore. Then you can’t technically ask (for) money back because if you do, then everybody is buying the film on advance basis and not MG. On human grounds, it’s fair enough, but you can’t demand the money.


But do you think it is okay to hold only the superstar responsible for the failure of a film?


It’s all in the relationship. It is not okay to hold a superstar responsible for the failure of a film. When Salman’s film earned over Rs 100 crore multiple times in the past, did they share the profits? Business is business, some films work, some don’t. You can’t hold Salman responsible because he has delivered so many hits in the past.


Why do you think the footfall has decreased in all the years ? Is the ticket rate to be blamed for this?


Ticket rates are not in our control. There is no unity here. The whole industry needs to unite and go on strike, fight with the multiplex to cut the ticket rate down. Another point to note here is that for multiplex as well everything is so costly. They need to pay electricity bills, land costs so even they are bleeding. That’s inflation.


There has been a constant chatter in the industry that the media screenings should be stopped as that takes a toll on opening day numbers of the film. What do you have to say about this?


There is a problem. How many journalists are genuine? There is a larger section of media who are not even journalists. If there are 20 genuine reviewers, there are 100 who would just watch a film so that they can tweet about it in the interval. They would tweet ‘sh*t film’, ‘bad film’ and all that stuff. Is it fair? It’s scary for producers. The genuine reviewers too suffer because of these people. They should wait until Friday to tweet. I think you all should take an action against such people.


Are you eyeing the Diwali 2018 slot for any of your films given the fact that Diwali 2017 and 2018 were booked by you much in advance?


Nothing planned as yet. I have changed my strategy to be honest. There is a lot of last minute pressure if you announce the release date in advance. I have now decided to first finish a film and then decide the release date. I have five six films in my production and we would be following this strategy from hereon. Even for Taanaji, I am not locking a release date. It is the most sensible thing to do. We tend to run behind a release date.


Any plans for a Singham - Dabangg crossover?


We have spoken about that. Salman and I have discussed the possibility of making a Singham Dabangg cross-over. Let’s see. We should get the script. The script should justify coming together of the two characters. If we get a script, we would definitely make a film.


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