For someone who started out as an action hero, his move towards different genres of cinema did come as a surprise. But how long can you keep an action hero like Ajay Devgn away from thrilling stunts? Half of his forthcoming films have a generous dose of action in them. Apart from Priyadarshan’s Aakrosh, Devgn is literally returning to action, in at least four upcoming films.
These include Milan Luthria’s Once Upon A Time In Mumbai, Rajkumar Santoshi’s action drama for Firoz Nadiadwala, Rohit Shetty’s remake of the Malayalam hit, Puthiya Mukham, and another film with Priyadarshan. Not to forget a couple of action sequences in Golmaal 3, for which director Rohit Shetty will blow up at least a dozen-odd cars in Hyderabad next month.
Devgn has been itching to do an action film for a while now and also wants to direct a stunt thriller. Just before Qayamat (2002), Devgn had told director Harry Baweja that he wanted to see if he could still perform stunts as well as he did in films after his debut, Phool Aur Kaante (1992). Remind him of that and he’s quick to retort, “Today, at 41, I’m fitter than I was then. I can say this with certainty because I’ve done very different kinds of action in Priyan’s Aakrosh.”
Never seen before scenes
Reluctant to reveal much about the kinds of stunts he’s doing, Devgn says, “The sort of action I’m required to do in a film depends entirely on the screenplay. For some scenes, I need to be on the harness and sometimes it’s a bare-hard fight sequence, which again has to be shot differently. In my forthcoming films, I’m doing all kinds of action, appropriate for each of the movies, but in a manner unlike anything I’ve done before.”
In the same vein, Kumar Mangat, producer of Aakrosh, adds, “You wouldn’t have seen this kind of action in Hindi films before. You have to see to believe the way Priyanji has executed them. There are a couple of chase sequences with Akshaye Khanna, apart from the unarmed fights. There’s also an extensive sword-fighting sequence, but the high-point is Ajay and Akshaye’s encounter with the villains in a jungle.”
Luthria, who’s helming Once Upon A Time In Mumbai, is equally enthusiastic about Devgn’s return to thrilling moments. “Action is essentially about attitude. And every successful action hero we have applauded has a clear attitude that’s flamboyant, rebellious as well as aspirational. Ajay’s return to action is going to make people revisit that attitude. The audience is not concerned with the difficulties faced in filming a scene, but the impact it makes. The common man connects with the hero’s attitude and whistles when he sees the stunts on screen,” he enthuses.
Elaborating on Devgn’s action sequence involving a train for their film set in the 1970s, Luthria says, “The train was running at 70 kmph while Ajay was in close proximity to the track. Since we shot it on a single track near Karjat, we couldn’t rehearse much. But shooting it requires infallible coordination between the engine driver, director and the actor. One wrong word can result in a disaster, and we couldn’t afford that.”
Not for thrills
While Devgn shrugs off the talk of risk with a smile, Luthria says, “Doing a stunt like that requires presence of mind, perfect mental balance and plenty of experience.” He asserts that action in the 21st century is not about a hero saving a damsel in distress anymore. The change that film writing has undergone over the years has also contributed to the new technology for stunts in movies, Luthria adds.
Rohit Shetty reveals that he too has envisioned a unique style of action for his Hindi version of Puthiya Mukham with Devgn. “We won’t be using a lot of wirework and cables, unless required. Although it’s too early to disclose, since we’re yet to finish the scripting. All I can say, is that there will be a lot of raw action in our film.” On his part, Devgn feels that it doesn’t make sense doing different action just for the sake of it. “A stunt should suit the storyline. The audience is smart enough to understand when you’re trying to impress them with those sequences just for thrills,” he points out.
Other actors gearing up for action
Shah Rukh Khan
After his fiery stunts in Om Shanti Om, SRK is known to be doing extensive action in his next, Ra.One, which is being directed by Anubhav Sinha. Reportedly, he’s playing a superhero in this sci-fi thriller and is doing aerial stunts, while Arjun Rampal, plays his nemesis. Sinha is believed to have roped in a team of 15 foreign technicians to design the stunts, keeping in mind Khan’s health issues. Apparently, a considerable part of the budget is for the thrills in the film, which also features Kareena Kapoor.
Every film the Khiladi acts in has to have a good dose of stunts. Even a comedy like Housefull saw him jump from one building to another. So it won’t be surprising to see him indulge in some daredevilry in Priyadarshan’s Khatta Meetha, Vipul Shah’s Action Replay, and Nikhil Advani’s Patiala House. And considering that Farah Khan is at the helm of Tees Maar Khan, one can be assured of at least one edge-of-the-seat action sequence in the movie.
The actor will finally be seen in his first raw action movie soon. Under the direction of Nishikant Kamat for Vipul Shah’s production, Abraham replays Surya’s role in the Hindi remake of Khaka Khaka. “John is already getting into shape for the character of a cop who can crush criminals with his bare hands,” says a source.
Aishwarya rai bachchan
One wouldn’t associate the former Miss World with action, but she’s not lagging behind in doing her own stunts. In her own words, she was tied, pushed, dragged and even thrown into cold water for some action scenes in Ratnam’s Raavan. Not just once or twice, but many times, because she’s also acting in the Tamil version featuring Vikram in the role Abhishek plays in the Hindi film.
This beauty gets into action mode and how! For Zoya Akhtar’s, Zindagi Milegi Na Dobara, Katrina has been training in dirt-biking and deep sea diving for the underwater action sequences. Hold your breath till the film goes on floors in Spain soon.
Forget Kites, during the filming of which he suffered a leg injury that healed only after he finished Guzaarish. Roshan will join Abhay Deol and Farhan Akhtar in some extensive action sequences in Zoya Aktar’s Zindagi Milegi Na Dobara.
Years ago, David Dhawan had said that unless Amitabh Bachchan’ son punched and kicked, he wouldn’t make the required impact. Mani Ratnam’s Yuva proved to be a turning point in his career and the actor returns to action mode once again in the director’s Raavan. Apart from the usual ‘maara-maari’ (fight sequences), Bachchan has also plunged 90 feet down, from a cliff into a river. If that’s not enough, he is also doing more thrilling stunts in Rohan Sippy’s Dum Maaro Dum and Abhinay Deo’s The Game.
Saif Ali Khan and Kareena Kapoor
Never mind that they’re a couple in real life, there’s plenty of curiosity about Saif Ali Khan and Kareena Kapoor’s Agent Vinod. The spy-thriller, to be directed by Sriram Raghavan, sees Khan play a desi Bond while Kapoor plays a Pakistani secret agent. Kapoor enthused about how she was raring to go for the stunts, with her beau, in their next movie together.
The southside superstar of the Tamil original, Ghajini, makes his Hindi debut with Rakta Charitra. And filmmaker Ram Gopal Varma is already raving about him and his action sequences. “Many times, there are actors with good bodies, but they can’t act and then there are intense actors who can’t dare to take their shirts off. Only in Surya, I found this combination of an extraordinary body coupled with an extraordinary intensity in his facial expressions,” Varma enthuses.
After last year’s runaway hit, Wanted, Salman Khan is back with another action flick. Brother Arbaaz’s (Khan) maiden production, Dabang, sees Salman play a corrupt cop who is ever ready to get into fisticuffs. A source from the film reveals that the only time Hidustanharness and wirework was used for the thrills was for a sequence showing stuntmen falling off from terraces. “If there was a rod nearby in a fight sequence, the actors would pick it up and go at each other,” says our source.
He seems to be keen to shed his image as a serial kisser. According to Milan Luthria, director of Once Upon A Time In Mumbai, Emraan displayed his presence of mind while shooting an action sequence recently. “We were shooting a choreographed fight sequence without cuts. Forget turning left when he had to turn right… even if he had been a second late in turning, Emraan would have found it difficult to defend himself,” recalls the filmmaker.
Her stunts in Chandni Chowk To China might have gone unnoticed, but Deepika Padukone is ensuring that her daredevilry in Pradeep Sarkar’s Lafangey Parindey and Ashutosh Gowariker’s Khelein Hum Jee Jaan Sey doesn’t go ignored. “Kalpana Datta in KHJJS is not the kind of woman who stayed at home waiting for her husband to come back. She was a strong independent woman who took part in the revolution,” Padukone says, adding, “I give a lot of importance to fitness and like to do things on my own. I wanted to do my own stunts, instead of letting a body double step in for me.”