Just two weeks to go before the release of Shivaay but actor-producer-director Ajay Devgn is unruffled. In fact, he’s counting the days to the Friday when his work will be out there for the audience to savour during Diwali week. Here’s the man who’s given everything to Shivaay, to make it an experience to remember for movie-goers, in conversation with Rohini Nag Madnani and Soumita Sengupta
Just two weeks to go before the film’s release. What’s your state of mind?
I am at ease. When the journey of Shivaay started, the film was with me, and later with my writers, and then my entire team. Now while giving our dream the final touches, there’s a kind of contentment on each other’s faces that I can’t explain in words. We all have lived Shivaay and in two weeks the film will be with the audience for whom we have made this film. It is an achievement, that we dreamt of making something special, and that something special will be out shortly.
It’s not just me but my entire team is feeling a sense of accomplishment. When we decided to make Shivaay, we knew it was a responsibility to make this kind of cinema for our audience. But we were confident of making it happen and today when we all know that we have done it, it is definitely a happy state of mind for each one of us.
We know that the audience has been curious about the film ever since we released the trailer as they felt that this Diwali, the entertainment has just got bigger. We can’t wait to share Shivaay with each one of them.
You’re sounding so happy, but you devoted two years to this film.
(Cuts in) That’s why we are even more eager to share the film with the audience. When we watch the final product today, we are happy we gave it everything for such a long time. That’s why the film has shaped up the way I had visualised it. I’m so proud of my team as they were committed to the film for such a long time. Today, when they see their labour of work on the screen, their happy faces make me proud.
Why did you decide to direct the film?
I had been keen on directing a film for a long time but I did not find the right subject. Also, I wasn’t happy with the kind of films being made these days. We say that the audience has changed. It is time for us to change too. They want to watch something different and it is our duty to give them what they want. Just because we can make a film doesn’t mean we should make what we want.
We’re in the field of entertainment and our job is to entertain the audience. We shouldn’t make movies for our own satisfaction. Happiness for a filmmaker is when he sees the audience coming out of a theatre with a happy face. That’s the biggest award or reward a filmmaker can ever have.
And I have been wanting and waiting to come across something like that. When I came across Shivaay, I was, like, ‘This is it!’ I had found what I was waiting for, for so many years.
The trailer of the film was very well accepted by one and all.
That’s my point. The moment you give something interesting and what the audience is waiting for, half the battle is won. I was flooded with calls and messages from the industry the moment the trailer released. Even on social media, the trailer was applauded immensely. Not just in India but even in the West, the trailer was very well received.
But the first trailer didn’t really reveal what the film was all about.
That was intentional. Now just a week before the film’s release, I will have one more trailer releasing, which will have dialogue. In fact, in a day or two, the dialogue promos will be out. The first trailer very much conveyed what we intended to and it was positively accepted. Although we didn’t show much of the little girl in the first trailer, what was heartening was that the audience connected with that girl instantly. That’s the charm of that little girl. Now wait for the dialogue promo, where you will see more of her. Right now, I’m thanking my stars that I was lucky to have a talent like that in my film and, after the release, the audience will thank me for introducing such a talent to them.
Is this the actor Ajay Devgn speaking or the director?
(Laughs) If you ask the director Ajay Devgn, he will say that this little girl is better than the actor Ajay Devgn. Why just actor Ajay Devgn, this girl is more talented than any other actor in this universe. She’s born to act. We were all amazed at her performance. She was bang on target from the first shot. She’s the hero of my film. Mark my words, in times to come, she’ll be a huge star.
How difficult was it to shoot those chase sequences which we saw in the trailer?
(Smiles) Only we know how we managed to pull them off. But the pain we experienced while filming those chase sequences is worth it as we are being flooded with compliments for those sequences. As I mentioned earlier, the biggest happiness is to see a happy and satisfied audience, which we are seeing. Besides, ‘no pain, no gain’.
Apart from shooting those chase sequences or action sequences, we have shot in minus temperatures. It used to be freezing cold and I have done shirtless scenes in that climate. It was one of the most difficult shoots for me but we pulled it off.
When you have a subject like Shivaay, you want to go all out. You want to give it your best, to make it the best. That’s what we were determined to do and we have achieved that.
Also, going by the trailer and the film’s rich visuals and locations, it looks like a very expensive product.
I know there are people who are saying it is a very costly film. I agree, we have spent money to make the film look grand but it is not an unnecessary expense. Today, the remuneration of a director and an actor is more than double the cost of actually making a film. In Shivaay, I am the leading man and the director of the film, and also the producer.
Yes, Shivaay looks grand and the visuals are spectacular but since it is a well-planned film, it is not a costly project. Instead of burdening the movie with a star fee or a big director fee, we have used that money in the making of the film.
Why did you shoot the title song again and not show the song that is there in the film?
The title track has been shot very differently and that’s why I didn’t want to show it to the audience. I wanted them to go to the theatre and watch the song. The visual of the title track is going to be an experience for the audience. In fact, there are so many elements in the film that haven’t been seen by our Indian audience before. Shivaay is full of newness, not only in terms of writing but also in the way the film has been shot.
Not just the title song, you have not yet shown the main villain of the film. Why have you kept so much under wraps?
That’s the beauty and that’s why you two are asking me this question. Not only you, everyone is asking me the same question. Even though they have not seen much of that little girl, they want to see more of her. They want to know how we have shot and shown the title track in the film. There’s curiosity to see the villain of the film. And now the time has almost come for us to reveal to the audience what they’ve been craving.
Tell us more about Shivaay.
It’s a human story, very high on emotion and drama. There’s a very beautiful love story and father-daughter relationship in the film. It is a film that the entire family would want to go and watch together. There’s something for everyone in Shivaay, right from a child to the young generation to older people.
Is that why you are releasing the film during Diwali?
Shivaay is a Diwali film. It is a film that the entire family would want to go and watch together. I would say, Shivaay is a Diwali gift to everyone from ADF (Ajay Devgn Films).