The Ajay Devgn Interview: It's not okay to hold a superstar responsible for the failure of a film!
One of Indian cinema's finest actors Ajay Devgn discusses with us his upcoming film, Baadshaho, his character in the movie, and much more.
It was almost 26 years ago that Ajay Devgn exploded onto Hindi cinema screens and enthralled the audience with a romantic-action-thriller film, Phool Aur Kaante. Decades have gone by but Devgn still remains one of the most loved and salable superstars in Indian cinema. The actor, who has appeared in over 100 Hindi films, will next be seen in Milan Luthria's Baadshaho. Also featuring Ileana D'Cruz, Esha Gupta, Emraan Hashmi, Vidyut Jammwal and Sanjay Mishra, the movie releases on 1st September. Before its release, one of Indian cinema's finest actors discusses with BollywoodMDB. Reporter, Mohnish Singh, his forthcoming film, his character in the movie, and why booking a release date in advance is not a good idea for him anymore. The two time National Award winning actor also touches upon his career and offers some really interesting stories about the current state of Bollywood.
Q. How similar is Baadshaho to Kachche Dhaage?
A. I think you’re connecting to it because Kachche Dhaage was also about Rajasthan and desert. The look of the film is the only similarity between Baadshaho and Kachche Dhaage.
Q. Is your character called Baadshaho in the movie?
A. Baadshaho refers to all the 6 guys from the team. Baadshah is singular whereas Baadshaho is plural. All the 6 guys are very street-smart and you won’t get to know who is conning whom. So, it is a very interesting space which has a relationship in its backdrop. Bhawani is very smart but very emotional. When you watch the film, you would get to know how every layer of the character unfolds, especially mine. He is a very earthy guy who has got his own language. He is smart, strong but emotional.
Q. The film is set against the backdrop of emergency, so are there any political references in the film?
A. There is no political connection in the film. It is just a story set in the era of emergency but in totality, it is a film about these 6 characters.
Q. How comfortable are you doing back to back action films given the fact that even Shivaay was a hardcore action film?
A. Honestly speaking, length wise, there is not a lot of action. There is a lot of thrill and drama in Baadshaho. I wouldn’t call it an out and out action film as it is more of a drama film.
Q. How was it working with Vidyut Jammwal?
A. I worked with Vidyut for the first time. He is a very sweet guy, very good at action. We have a fight scene in the film and it is fun when the other person is also good at action.
Q. What sort of action excites you the most? Is it the real action, larger-than-life action or the action backed by CGI?
A. I like the real one. If you see Shivaay, the action was larger-than-life but very realistic. There were no cars flying, no person flying, it was very real. CGI today is involved in everything because you have to erase a lot of things. The real use of CGI isn’t to create something, but there are a lot of other aspects to it. In today’s time, it is impossible to make a film without CGI as that is used even in the normal scenes.
Q. What did you learn from Shivaay?
A. I think Shivaay was fine. I should have made a little shorter film and that’s the only thing that concerns me.
Q. There was a section of media in the 90’s who thought you would not make it big in the industry due to the unconventional looks. How do you look back at that today?
A. I didn’t care about it as I thought they were idiots. I still think most of the trade pundits are idiots. You can’t take them seriously.
Q. Does the box office number add pressure on you as an actor?
A. Earlier nobody was printing it and hence it was not there, today you guys are printing and hence people have started taking numbers seriously. To be very honest, box office numbers matter because if you invest a certain amount, you need to recover. But that’s not the only concern for me as even appreciation matters a lot.
Q. Salman Khan’s Tubelight and Shah Rukh Khan’s Jab Harry Met Sejal failed to live up to the expectations following which the distributors urged the stars to refund their money. What is your take on this?
A. On humanitarian grounds, if somebody wants to refund, it’s fine. But if I talk technically, nobody can ask the producer to refund. If I have earned something and you have not, I will be happy to share. Technically, there are two ways of buying a film: one is minimum guarantee and other is Advance. Some distributors buy a film in advance which means they would buy the film for say Rs 10 crore for a territory. If the film covers Rs 10 crore, then it’s fine but if it doesn’t then you (producer) pay me back. MG is minimum guarantee which means you have bought my film for Rs 10 crore. Then you can’t technically ask for money back because if you do, then everybody is buying the film on an advance basis and not MG. On human grounds, it’s fair enough, but you can’t demand the money.
Q. But do you think it is okay to hold only the superstar responsible for the failure of a film?
A. It’s all in the relationship. It is not okay to hold a superstar responsible for the failure of a film. When Salman’s film earned over Rs 100 crore multiple times in the past, did they share the profits? Business is business, some films work, some don’t. You can’t hold Salman responsible because he has delivered so many hits in the past.
Q. Why do you think are audiences not coming to the cinema hall in large numbers? Is the ticket rate to be blamed for this?
A. Ticket rates are not in our control. There is no unity here. The whole industry needs to unite and go on strike, fight with the multiplex to cut the ticket rate down. Another point to note here is that for multiplex as well everything is so costly. They need to pay electricity bills, and costs so even they are bleeding. That’s inflation.
Q. There has been a constant chatter in the industry that the media screenings should be stopped as that takes a toll on opening day numbers of the film. What do you have to say about this?
A. There is a problem. How many journalists are genuine? There is a larger section of media who are not even journalists. If there are 20 genuine reviewers, there are 100 who would just watch a film so that they can tweet about it in the interval. They would tweet ‘shit film’, ‘bad film’ and all those stuff. Is it fair? It's scary for producers. The genuine reviewers too suffer because of these people. They should wait till Friday to tweet. I think you all should take an action against such people.
Q. Are you eyeing the Diwali 2018 slot for any of your films given the fact that Diwali 2017 and 2018 were booked by you much in advance?
A. Nothing planned as yet. I have changed my strategy, to be honest. There is a lot of last minute pressure if you announce the release date in advance. I have now decided to first finish a film and then decide the release date. I have five six films in my productions and we would be following this strategy from here on. Even for Taanaji, I am not locking a release date. It is the most sensible thing to do. We tend to run behind a release date.