Versatility could very well be his middle name. While some actors relentlessly stick to their comfort zone of cinema, Ajay Devgn is one the very few actors who’s stretched his reach into diverse genres with impressive success. The star, whose career spans almost two decades, slips into comic, action or drama roles with equal ease and élan. After a super successful 2010, Ajay is gearing up to hit the big screen with the kind of cinema he knows best – Action. His forthcoming, Rohit Shetty directed Singham is slated for release this coming Friday and he has not only taken on the role but has become the role. The lean frame has given way to six-pack abs, but his eyes still exude the same captivating intensity. The actor connected with BollySpice for a brief chat on playing Singham, working with his co-stars, those abs and more.
In the film he plays Bajirao Singham, a no-nonsense tough cop. Known for his interesting and smart choice of movies, quiz him on what attracted him to this film and he replies with a smile, “The reason for me saying yes to any film is purely down to the script, my role and the director’s vision and the same is with Singham. I loved the script – it really pays homage to the classic Indian action film genre of the 70s which I have grown up watching and aspiring to be a part of, in some shape or form”.
He is quick to add that though the film is a remake of a Tamil blockbuster, Rohit has excellently reinterpreted the film for the Hindi film audience. “He has taken the Tamil version and given it his own stamp. It pays respect to the original but definitely has Rohit’s perspective,” he clarifies adding that he is convinced that those that watch it will recognise that.
Of course, this is not the first film Ajay and Rohit have done together. Along with sharing a passion for action, they’ve had a successful hat trick of comedy films with the Golmaal series. Talking about this actor-director camaraderie, he says, “I enjoy every genre of film, they all bring different experiences. As an actor I like to be versatile, so working with Rohit was great. He is such a great director and we have very similar ideas when it comes to movies and action, I want to do my own stunts and he agrees. It was an honor working with Rohit and as always look forward to starting our next project with him.”
For someone who transforms into characters ranging from a Mafia kingpin to a love-struck white-collared executive, how does he convincingly pull off any role? “By literally becoming them! From my physical appearance – have you seen the moustache and the abs??! – right through to the thought-process of the character and their portrayal,” he explains.
Shifting gears, talk veers towards co-star of the film, Kajal Agarwal an established South Indian actress who makes her Bollywood debut with Singham. Ruefully he admits to have not had a chance to watch any of his leading lady’s movies. But despite that, he is all praise for the actress. “Kajal is a very talented woman; it was great working with her everyone had a really good time. I have seen her in action now so can imagine that they must be good.”
So did his other co-star veteran actor Prakash Raj, who was also part of the original offer any pieces of advice? “Prakash has many a word of wisdom for me, not all relevant to the film I may add (laughs) but no, he knew my stance on wanting my role to be unique to me so therefore he just let me get on with it.”
In one of his earlier interviews, he confessed to wanting to become a stunt man if he had not been an actor. Coming from someone who started his career as an action hero, idolized for snazzy bike stunts we couldn’t have agreed more. Singham once again gives him a chance to indulge in high octane yet nerve-wrecking action sequences. He professes that though they don’t make him nervous, there is an adrenaline rush. “The possibility of getting hurt makes you completely aware of your surroundings and what is going on – the only nerve racking thing is if I am not concentrating, as the novice I could seriously hurt someone else. Furthermore, in all of our films all safety precautions are taken into account to ensure the delivery of the scenes is as safe and smooth as possible.”
Post Ghajini, Ready and with Singham following suit, he acknowledges that directors and actors are increasingly being attracted to the trend of South Indian films being remade by Bollywood. “The South Indian Film Industry has some great film concepts and other filmmakers recognise this – it’s definitely a good place to take inspiration from”, he maintains. However, he also subsequently points out that it works the other way round too with South Indian industry also re-making Hindi films, “It’s definitely a symbiotic relationship we share,” he reasons adding that his very own debut Phool Aur Kante was also re-made into a South Indian film.
When quizzed about his best action flick, he refuses to pick any one in particular stating there are too many choices.
Another interesting fact about Ajay that you may not know is… “I don’t tend to watch many Bollywood films, especially my own.”
Getting back to Singham he describes the film as entertaining and thrilling at the same time, “The film is a high-octane drama, with the traditional hero vs villain storyline, sprinkling of romance, lots of intense action sequences”. One of the highlights which makes Singham special he says is that, “the film pays homage to the classic Hindi action/drama film genre which we don’t really get to see nowadays in its original form.”
Referring to the appeal of Singham, he says he is optimistic that the film will be received well by cross sections of the audience. “The older generation will like it because it will remind them of the 70’s action films, the younger audience will like it because it still has the modern twist,” he claims confidently.
Finally, what does the future hold for Ajay professionally? “I have 3 new projects coming up, all of which I am excited about, Tezz, Rascals and Power, so look out for them!”
With contributions by Stacey Yount