There is no equation between SRK and me: Ajay Devgn
Ajay Devgn, who turns 43 (April 2), is your quintessential Bollywood machismo symbol. He’s firmly ensconced in the Hindi cinema hierarchy — alongside the Khans — with a neat track record of some 100-crore hits and some piddly misses. This Son of Sardaar balances his cinematic choices, with mainstream masala (Himmatwala) and the sensitive (Satyagraha). And he will always speak his mind, no matter what the consequences are. So we ask:
What’s this obsession with alpha male titles — Singham, Son Of Sardaar, Himmatwala…
Well, it’s only a happy coincidence that when filmmakers register these ‘macho’ titles, they come in my direction. There is nothing to prove. I have maintained that the Bollywood box office clearly knows the difference between the boys and the men. It’s not because I’m in my 40s, that I’m saying so. If you look closely, you will see that it’s the 40-plus actor who is ruling the roost. (Laughs and adds) And anyway, there are only few actors with whom you can make Himmatwala. With others, it will probably have to be ‘Himmatwali’.
Frankly, actors do not court images. It’s the media that is busy trying to give us slots. Someone is a chocolate boy, romantic; someone is the action king and so on. I don’t wish to be pigeon-holed. But you could say that I’m more suited for macho roles than I am for romantic ones. That doesn’t mean I can’t succeed at romance. One of my biggest hits was Pyaar To Hona Hi Tha with my wife Kajol. And what I did in Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam was also pure romance. There you go; as an actor I can balance romance and action, but the media conveniently forgets that.
How far have you come with your dancing? By your own admission, till a while ago, you had two left feet.
I’m still awkward with dances, but I’m improving. I actually managed to do an item song in Bol Bachchan (laughs). Of course, I still fight better than I dance. But in Himmatwala, I’ve attempted Taki O Taki and Thathaiya — cult 80s Bollywood dances. I’ve done my best. Let me wait for the audiences’ verdict on that one.
How do you go from Sajid Khan to Prakash Jha? They are guys from two different schools of cinema. As an actor, doesn’t it mess with your head?
Look, there are stars who are happy to conform to just one genre. And then, there are actors like Amitabh Bachchan, Aamir Khan and some others, who are happy to mix their cinema. At 70, the ageless Amitji does a Bbuddha Hoga Tera Baap and a Paa with equal ease. Likewise, I’m game with balancing my choice of cinema. It’s the media who has an issue with a certain genre. They have pre-decided, this is mindless… or this is purist. As far as I’m concerned, I give my best to whatever I take on. The Son Of Sardaars and Himmatwalas are Bollywood’s answer to a Superman. You just go along for the ride and try to ensure everyone suspends their beliefs for those two and a half hours.
Talking of SOS; the film did extremely well. So now, is your fight with Aditya Chopra over?
I didn’t fight with Aditya Chopra for box office numbers. SOS was a Diwali entertainer and it got its due. I was fighting on principle and I was fighting an unfair practice. I’m told this Ramzan Eid, two more producers will be at loggerheads. Someone else will knock on the doors of the Competition Commission. Wherever there is malpractice, someone will raise their head. And a fight will ensue.
Fair enough. It was Ajay the producer versus Aditya the producer. What bones do you have to pick with Shah Rukh Khan? He is, after all, an actor with whom Kajol has done some of her finest work.
Personally, I have never had a fight with SRK. Kajol maintains her equations, I maintain mine. Professionally, he reminded me, through others, that he was also the producer of Jab Tak Hai Jaan. So, he was on the other side of the firing line. Hence, technically, my fight was also against him. He made no attempts to rectify the wrong they (Adi and he) did. I wasn’t going to give up what I believed in. That’s why there is no equation between SRK and me.
Don’t you think it’s a small industry and that people do come around?
I have stood for a principle. If anyone tries to suppress me or my family, or deny us our dues, I will pick up the cudgels. That will never change. As for people and equations within the industry, I will cross the bridge when I come to it.
What’s this development about Himmatwala not being a part of the 400 crore deal that you have with a satellite channel?
UTV has the satellite rights of Himmatwala. My 400-crore deal with Star is applicable to my future projects.