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Hit Machine

He is what he is! He has no time to party, no time for a social life… But then again, which workaholic does? Though he’s been criticised for doing multiple projects simultaneously, he’s proved his critics wrong by delivering one hit after another. No wonder, after several releases last year, this actor has been dubbed “the most bankable actor of today’s time”. He will start the year 2011 with a rom-com, Dil Toh Baccha Hai Ji. Here’s the man of the moment, Ajay Devgn, in conversation with Vajir Singh

You delivered many hits last year. Can we call you a ‘hit machine’ now?
(Laughs) No, no, please don’t give me that tag! I’m happy the way I am, so don’t pressure me. It’s been a good balance of different kinds of films. If I had done four comedies, I don’t think all of them would have worked. So a comedy, a drama, an underworld film… Every time you watched one of my films, it was new and it was good. That’s what I intend to do this year also.

It’s every actor’s dream to evolve and the audience too wants that. Today’s audience don’t want you to do the same thing again and again; they want something different every time they walk in to watch your film.

Although last year saw ‘commercial’ actors doing different things, you did roles the audience wanted to see you in.
Yeah. They are trying to do it now but I did all that long ago. I have spent years when I have decided to do something different when everyone else was doing the regular thing. So now I have decided to do the regular thing but differently.

Don’t you think your fans would be happy to see you doing a Zakham or a Najaayaz or The Legend Of Bhagat Singh?
(Takes a pause) I would love to but then you need to come across a role like that. Also, if I’ve not done a Zakham or a Najaayaz, the audience have seen me in Gangaajal, Apaharan and Omkara and prior to that, in Company.

To attempt something different, you need a fantastic script. Woh do chaar paanch saal mein ek aisa script sunne ko milta hai jo waisa ho. If something on those lines comes to me, I wouldn’t mind doing it.

Do you believe that an out-of-the-box film requires budgets to be restrained?
Yes. That’s very important in today’s times. That is the most important rule. You know, every script has a budget tagged to it. Jab humne Atithi Tum Kab Jaoge banayi, toh humko pata tha ki that film is for a certain type of audience so uska high budget hota toh it wouldn’t have worked.

Every film has a target audience and a budget. You have to decide who your target audience is, unki capacity kya hai, kitne log aayenge film dekhne ke liye. And you make a film accordingly. Instead of crying over spilt milk, one needs to be prepared. Better safe than sorry.

But with every sequel to Golmaal, we’ve seen budgets soaring. Is it because expectations are rising?
Expectations are growing, the film is getting bigger, the canvas is getting bigger. We know that the returns will follow. That’s why the budgets are also high. When a script requires a controlled budget, we control the budget.

We can’t make Golmaal 3 on a shoestring budget when we know part 1 and part 2 were made lavishly. Golmaal is a brand. Each time we come up with a sequel, expectations are high. The Audience don’t want better content only, they want better entertainment and better locations and the way the film is shot.

Have you decided to stick to comedy and action only?
No, no. I will sign up for anything that is convincing. For instance, my next release, Dil Toh Baccha Hai Ji (DTBHJ), is a very different type of a comedy. The situations are very serious but the characters are very funny. It’s the kind of comedy the youth will love and people will identify with it. It is very real. Sab characters bahut real hain par jo situation hai woh bahut funny hai. Everyone will relate to all the characters in this film.

Everyone in this film has a sad tale to convey but when they hear about the other characters’ stories, it makes them think. The message is that we all have something sad to moan about but knowing others too are in pain makes things bearable.

The dialogue is bold and people will relate to it. It speaks the language of today’s youth.

Like Shruti Hasan says, “I love watching porn movies…?
(Cuts in) Yes. It’s hard to believe but girls do discuss such things. They discuss these things among their friends par kisi parent ke samne bol do toh bahut culture shock hoga. In their friends’ circle, no one raises an eyebrow. Instead, they say, “Yeh kya baat kar rahi hai!”

Of late, you’ve been doing over-the-top humour but DTBHJ is a subtle comedy. Do you think it will be appreciated in B and C class centers?
(Laughs) If it’s not over the top, it is also not under. You need to watch the film to really understand what I’m trying to say. It has the right balance. I mean it when I say everyone will relate to this film.

Recently, you launched your website, ticketplease.com.
When these boys came to me, I realised that they had conceived and planned everything well. I liked it very much. And I thought I should go out and support it. This is the only portal that has everything. From ticketing to E-commerce to editorials to box-office collections.

Won’t the portal reflect a bias towards your releases?
No. I won’t be a part of the editorial team. I have always been very fair, whether about my release or other actors’ releases. The portal will survive only if it is fair to the industry.

The portal will also have a blog by you. No one believes you will actually blog.
Don’t worry, I will write. I will write whenever I will feel like it and I will make an attempt to change the myth that I can’t write. (Smiles)

Do you keep tabs on collections, your releases, as well as other releases?
Yes, I am usually up-to-date on collections.

Is that why you think there should be authenticity as far as collections are concerned?
Yes, I often find huge discrepancies between actual collections and what is printed. So I like to keep tabs on what’s happening.

Coming back to your acting assignment, you are playing a cop in Singham after many years. How many times have you seen the original?
Yes, I am very excited about Singham. I have seen it just once as I wanted to get an idea and then do my own thing. But let me tell you, a lot has changed from the original Singham. The writer-team along with Rohit (Shetty) has worked very hard so that the film has universal appeal.

Is it set in North or South India?
It’s based in Goa.

Are you excited about doing an out-anout action film?
Of course! Wait and watch is all I can tell you right now.

Okay, why did you opt out of Raj Kumar Santoshi’s Power?
I was committed to doing Power. Then I requested Rajji (Raj Kumar Santoshi) and Feroz (Nadiadwala) to excuse me as they wanted to shoot in the first half of the year, when I was already committed otherwise. But there’s no fallout as is being made out in the media. In fact, I have committed to doing another film with them, which is their next project.

But talk in the trade is that you gave the dates that were slotted for Power to your favourite, Rohit Shetty, for Singham?
That’s not true. Don’t actors work on two different films simultaneously? I’m also shooting for David Dhawan’s Rascals and Priyadarshan’s Tezz.

Aren’t you limiting yourself by working so much with Rohit Shetty? You have three films already planned with him, Singham, Bol Bachan and Golmaal 4.
I’m also working with Priyan-sir, Ashwini Dheer and, wait for a month or two, you will hear a few more announcements. (Smiles)

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