He has two National Awards to his credit (one for Zakhm; 1998; and one for The Legend Of Bhagat Singh; 2002). He has acted in films across various genres — from comedy, to action to serious, parallel cinema in a career spanning more than two decades. Yet, he likes to keep a low profile.
Ajay Devgn at Action Jackson promotions.
The reason, he says, is that unlike a lot of other actors, he doesn’t know how to "market" himself, and would rather have people judge him on his work. But the man of a few words opens up about his star status in Bollywood vis-a-vis that of the Khans, and why he’s happy about Salman and Shah Rukh’s renewed camaraderie.
What is more important to you as an actor — box office success or critical reception?
I want to perform and get appreciated by people who watch my films. I don’t find any meaning in doing an extremely well-written, performance-oriented film that people won’t actually watch in theatres. I have always tried to strike a balance.
But do you feel your fame and stardom was overshadowed by that of the Khans (Shah Rukh, Salman and Aamir)?
This perception has been created by the media. Technically, I became a star with my first film, Phool Aur Kaante (1991), and after that, I didn’t have to look back. I am a star, and have always been.
Ajay Devgn and Shah Rukh Khan (Agencies)
Why do you shy away from marketing yourself like other actors do?
I don’t want to market myself. I am not someone who creates perceptions; I let people judge me for my work. People know about my successful films and performances. I don’t need to scream from the rooftops about my work.
Shah Rukh and Salman hugged and patched up during Arpita’s (Salman’s sister) wedding. Your comment?
They have always been friends. Yes, there were small differences, but that never made them enemies. I am happy that they are openly showing their affection for each other now. It’s such a good thing. Salman, Shah Rukh, Akshay, Aamir and I have been in the industry for 25 years now. We have always been comfortable with each other. So, whenever there’s a rift, it should be sorted out.
You recently supported a children’s film festival. Do you, as a producer, also plan to make kids’ films?
I do want to make films for children, but only if I get the right script. What happens in India is that people make children’s films with the point of view that children are stupid. So, they make silly comedies. Our kids are not stupid and when they watch such films even they find them silly. In Hollywood, they make intelligent children’s films, so that kids can relate to them and adults can also enjoy them. I have children and I know what they want.
Many stars have worked on TV. What has kept you away?
I am not staying away from it. If something interesting is offered to me, I will take it up. A mini-series would be my choice because I can’t commit to doing long shows.
Would you like to launch new talent, the way Salman Khan and Akshay Kumar are doing?
Yes, I am also looking forward to doing that through my production house. I will launch people who I feel have the potential to justify great roles.
There was speculation that Kajol won’t be part of your next production. Is that true?
That’s not true; Kajol will be part of the film. The movie is in the scripting stage right now, so it’s too early for me to talk about it.
What are your expectations from your next?
It is a typical Prabhudheva film, which I am sure people will enjoy. It has a nice story, emotions, great humour, fantastic action and lovely songs. Also, I don’t think anybody else can present their actors the way Prabhudheva does. The film has got all the factors to provide complete entertainment.