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I don't believe in six packs - Ajay Devgn | Exclusive Interview

I happened to meet the face of all things action, the person who took a quirky dialogue like 'Aata majhi satakli' to the league of 'Mere pass maa hain', the personality who is synonymous with the name Bajirao Singham, on a quiet and pleasant Saturday afternoon. Co-incidentally, it also happened to be the day when he marked his debut in the Hindi Film Industry, with the super hit 1991 romantic-drama Phool aur Kaante. "Wow, really? I have completed 23 years in the industry today? Didn't remember that. Thanks for informing me. It sure has been a long journey," he said, when reminded about the special day.

Actor Ajay Devgn, who is making waves with his brand new avatar in Prabhu Dheva's Action Jackson, is a busy man, as apart from focusing on his production ventures (one of the recent ones being the Marathi film Vitti Dandu, which was a treat to watch), he is also gearing up for his second directorial venture, Shivay.

Excerpts from a fun conversation with the talented actor, where he talks about his new release Action Jackson, directorial venture Shivay, and why he doesn't promote the concept of six pack abs.

Picture courtesy: Jitu Savlani
Your look in Action Jackson is very different. Did you undergo any particular fitness regime to achieve it?
Not really, but I did lose a lot of weight. Prabhu wanted me to achieve a lean look and stray away from the look I had worked on for Singham. The main reason behind this was the fact that Martial Arts is an integral part in the film, so I worked on getting a leaner body. Also, I had not trained with swords since quite sometime, which I used to do earlier, so I took a little time to get back to it as well.

Is it difficult to maintain a body like the one you have achieved?
Not very difficult, because we maintain a decent body. If you have to get into the kind of look that I am sporting in the film, then it takes at least a month to tone up completely. Starting from scratch would be a problem, so we always maintain it. Also, I don't believe in six packs, because it is technically not good for one's body. For Action Jackson, we went for a lean body with zero fat on the stomach.

Do you see any difference between the kind of action and stunts that are shown today, as compared to your earlier days in the industry?
Absolutely! It was much more difficult that time. Stunts and action is a lot more easier because of the new techniques, technology and the safety measures. People can use harnesses today, which wasn't the norm back in time. But, I try to avoid using a harness as much as I can, unless the stunt really requires me to use one.

Your character in this film is a breakaway from the image of a good cop that you have built with the Singham franchise. Were there any apprehensions about playing a baddie?
Well, it is not just a breakaway from my role of a good cop. I have done various films and have convinced the audience with each portrayal. If I did Singham, then I have also done something like a Once Upon A Time In Mumbai, where my character and performance was equally appreciated. Then there was Company. So, I have done a lot of films that belong to the Underworld genre. That way, I have always done a mix of good and bad roles. Hence, there weren't any apprehensions.
Stunts and action is a lot more easier because of the new techniques, technology and the safety measures. People can use harnesses today, which wasn't the norm back in time

A lot of your fans have been asking if they will see you in a comedy film anytime soon.
But, Action Jackson has a lot of comedy. Though there is tons of action, you will see a lot of comedy as well. We all know that the Prabhu Dheva style of humor is fantastic and hilarious. Personally, I do not like the buffoonery kind of comedy. But, Prabhu's style of comedy is not just like ki bas kuch ulta seedha bol diya. It is not about the dialogues, but a lot to do with the comic timing, which is fabulous.

You have worked with various directors, including Rohit Shetty, who just like Prabhu Dheva, is known for his masala action/comedy entertainers. Do you personally believe their approach is similar?
Not at all! Both the directors are completely different. Its true that they direct entertainers, but their style of film-making is completely different. Prabhu has a different approach towards a particular subject, while Rohit believes in a different style all together. Prabhu presents his characters in a very stylish and sleek way, while Rohit keeps things very real. Even their approach towards action is dissimilar. In Action Jackson, the action is stylized.

Several people who have worked with Prabhu Dheva before call him a demanding director. What was your experience?
Every good director has to be demanding. Its mostly with the newcomers that one has to be strict, because they are fresh, raw and their potential needs to be extracted in the right way. But on a personal note, I think he (Prabhu Dheva) is a very cool guy. It was fun working with him.

And what about the dance? It is a Prabhu Dheva film, after all.
How was it dancing in the song, Keeda?
(laughs) Honestly, I was quite prepared. Even during the script reading sessions, I trusted him completely, because I believe he is the best choreographer we have in our country. And Keeda (laughs) well, I really don't know what I have done.
Every good director has to be demanding. Its mostly with the newcomers that one has to be strict, because they are fresh, raw and their potential needs to be extracted in the right way


You have always stayed away from booking festival dates and the entire release monopoly.
How would you comment on this fight for release dates as far as 2016?
I have always stood by the fact that no monopoly is good for this industry and in the future, it will eventually decline. No one can just get up and decide ki yeh date humne book kar liya hain. We need to understand that several films are being made and everyone is eyeing a good release date. Either you need a holiday or a long run. Like for Action Jackson, we haven't got a Holiday, but we have got two weeks before the next film (PK) comes up. So, multiple films will clash and that is exactly what happened with Jab Tak Hain Jaan and Son of Sardar. Both the films did well. If there is space for two films, then everything is fair. Whatever is good will eventually be a hit. Plus, distributors have also balanced things out.

How was heading towards the Marathi film industry as a presenter like?
When the script of Vitti Dandu came to me, I really liked it and decided to back the film. The story really inspired me. Its a touching story about the relationship of a grandfather and grandson and is set during the 1940s.

Are all your energies now focused on Shivay, since you don't have any release in 2015?
Yes! And that is exactly what I have been planning since the last three years. I wanted to take an entire year off and concentrate on this project, which I will be directing. We start shooting in January. I will also be acting in the film. In Shivay, you will see a lot of action, but there is also an emotional base. There will be a lot of intensity and drama in the film. You won't see item numbers. There will be romantic songs, but not the unnecessary kinds. They will be used to take the story forward. Many people have asked me if the emotion in this film will be similar to my directorial debut (U, Me aur Hum) and my answer is that it will be emotional in a different way. U, Me aur Hum dealt with Alzheimer, which many people did not understand. But Shivay will be different.
Apart from Shivay, I will also be presenting Gangaajal 2.
I don't believe in six packs, because it is technically not good for one's body. For Action Jackson, we went for a lean body with zero fat on the stomach


And what about Raajneeti 2 and Satsang? Will you present and act in them?
He is still working on these scripts, so I can't really comment. The idea of that film (Satsang) is pretty good, but we will still have to figure things out. As far as acting in them is concerned, a lot will depend on how the final script eventually turns out.

Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge will complete 1000 weeks on December 12. Tell us a little bit about the first time you saw this film.
(laughs) Honestly, I still haven't seen this film. It just so happened that I never got the chance to watch it. And once the film has released and it has been long, you don't really get back to it. In fact, I hardly get the time to watch my own films. There are several films where I have worked, which I still haven't seen. I watch a lot of International cinema and also take keen interest in some Indian films as well.

-- By Priya Adivarekar --

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Priya Adivarekar

Priya Adivarekar - Founder and Creative Director at Diary of a Dancebee. She is also a renowned Voice Actress and award winning artiste, with serious passion for dance. When not working round the clock, she can be seen reading, enjoying a movie-binge or listening to music.
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