Getting Ajay Devgn to talk in an interview is no mean feat. But after the Son Of Sardaar controversy (his war with Yash Raj Films), the otherwise shy and reserved actor who’s known for his largely monosyllabic replies has become outspoken and is interesting to chat with. Though his last courageous attempt, Himmatwala, a BO dud got him only brickbats, the powerhouse of talent is gung-ho about his upcoming sequel Singham Returns. Here is what he had to say..
Ajay, is there an extra pressure to set a new benchmark, considering, Slaman Khan & Akshay kumar’s recent flicks Kick and Holiday have already touched the Rs. 100 crore mark?
I want to surpass mine. You try and surpass what you have done.
Is there any difference between the south remake and Singham Returns?
There are no similarities whatsoever. When the south remake started, they offered us the script, but we thought the script was apt for their audience and filmmaking style. We have a different script altogether and not a remake.
Singham Returns is releasing on Independence Day. If the production house had a chance would you have released the film on a big festival?
I think 15th August is a good day though it’s not as great as Eid or Diwali which has so many holidays which makes lot of difference for the film. The day we decided to make Singham Returns we locked 15th August and have kept anything else in mind.
How much has your character Bajirao Singham evolved?
Technically, the characteristics are the same and the way he operates is the same. His romance has changed and so the problems he faces. He’s come to a big city from a small town. The characteristics are same; only the drama, scale and problems are bigger.
Considering the rapport you share with Rohit Shetty, it appears that you blindly trust each other?
No, it’s not that. We discuss but yes the comfort zone is there and I know that he would present me well on screen. In my first film, Rohit came as a simple assistant to learn and we have been working together ever since. It has been 25 years and It’s too late in life to sit and analyse how and when our relationship began.
Considering Singham was a huge hit, what factors were taken into account to ensure a good opening for Singham Returns?
I don’t know what helps a good opening. I think if people like the first promo, your job is half done for the opening and the film has to be good. We got positive reactions from the promo. People just loved the first promo. We’ve also shot a song with Honey Singh which, I feel, will be a blockbuster song. Whenever I go to malls I could see non Marathi kids saying ‘Aata majhi satakli’. Honey made a song around that.
From the kind of action you’ve been exposed to during your father Veeru Devgn’s era, how has action evolved in Hindi cinema over the years?
It has become much bigger and technology plays a important role now. What was not possible earlier is possible now. Graphics help quite a bit and lot of safety precautions are being taken into consideration which were never there. My father likes this progress.
So the action stunts in “Singham Returns” are real?
We wanted to keep the action more real because I believe people have seen enough of cars flying high. The audience taste is changing and so the way you treat them should also change. We thought it has to be more realistic. Take for instance nobody could hit Singham but this time he can get hit. I refused to use cable during action scenes in Singham Returns.
How does it feel to see the young crop of actors doing action scenes?
Today’s kids are evolving and that’s good. Earlier we could pull without any graphics and safety measures but now it’s too difficult for the young kids to pull it off.
Today, most stars are bound by commercial credentials and do masala family entertainers only. As an actor do you also succumb to the pressure?
No I don’t agree with you. In fact, I was the first one to do hatke films like Zakhm and Thakshak. That time nobody used to touch those films. I would like to do something like this today also, provided I get a script which really excites me but I have not heard any since a long time. When you talk about a box office hit and when you do a film like that it has to be in a shoestring budget because it has got lesser audience. So if that is done it is again a hit. Films don’t fail, budgets fail.
Would like to direct Singham in future?
No that’s Rohit’s franchise.
You refused to wear a sari in the Kanchana remake…
We are still working on the script. I am not sure where the story came from but that’s not true.
Shah Rukh Khan dropped by on the sets of Singham Returns…
Yes, he was just shooting nearby and just dropped by to meet us. That’s it.
There are reports that you and SRK have patched up. Is that true?
I know there are reports but I don’t know why media always calls it a patch up. We have never had a problem in the first place for us to patch up. Have you ever seen either of us abusing at the other?. There could be things between two actors for personal reasons but not between both of us. If you are not friends with someone does not mean you are enemies with him. We are colleagues and we are there for each other as part of the industry. I’m sure if tomorrow if I need any support he will be there for me.
The trailer of Happy New Year has been attached to Singham Returns. Whose idea was it?
It was Shah Rukh’s idea. He asked us if he can attach the trailer of his film with Singham Returns and we agreed.
You’re also directing Shivay next year?
It’s too early to talk about it.
Reportedly, a Hindu organisation has objected to certain scenes in Singham Returns as they feel it portrays the community in a bad light?
I wouldn’t talk about that right now because we are still solving the issue. It’s just wrong to react to something like this without knowing anything about it.
There are reports that Action Jackson and Akshay Kumar’s Shaukeen are going to clash at the box office on November 7?
I don’t know if they are releasing because we have announced our movie release date earlier. I have no idea about them releasing on the same day. We have blocked everything. It’s for them to decide.
Kick is doing phenomenally well at the box office. What are your views on that?
Salman is a friend. I think Salman can carry off anything. I think he’s so watchable on screen that even a bad film can work.
Like Salman Khan has got his non profitable NGO – Being Human, are you keen on similar contribution?
I really don’t know. I’m just working on whatever contribution I can towards humanity. I’m sure lot of people need help.