Once tipped as the 'action hero' of Indian cinema, versatile Bollywood actor Ajay Devgan, who turned 39 Wednesday, has proved his mettle in every genre. This year, he also turns director with U, Me Aur Hum.
Ajay got an early birthday gift Tuesday when his entire family landed up on the sets of Zee TV's reality show Rock N' Roll, which he is hosting with wife Kajol and mother-in-law Tanuja. The family arrived to cut a cake with him.
His parents Veeru and Veena Devgan, sisters Neelam and Kavita and his nephew Aman were part of the entourage.<b1>
"I was pleasantly surprised, considering my parents never go on television. It was one of the most beautiful gifts I've ever received," said Ajay.
After a successful acting career spanning 16 years, the actor wanted to make a film through which he told people a story he really believes in.
"People often ask me if this is the right time to venture into direction. Frankly speaking, I don't know whether it is the right time or not, but I have always wanted to tell people a story I strongly believe in.
"I had this story idea in my mind for a long time and then I sat and wrote it down. Later when I gradually developed the screenplay, I felt that unless I directed the film myself, it would not be presented the way I want it to be," Ajay told IANS.
Even before he started off as an action hero in the 1991 hit film Phool Aur Kaante for which he won the Filmfare award for best debutant actor, Ajay had worked with internationally acclaimed filmmaker Shekhar Kapur as an assistant director.
"I had worked with Shekhar and when I was eight or nine years old, I also used to take part in editing and other technical areas of filmmaking with my father," he said.
The actor has been among the first few of his generation to turn producer. In 1999 and 2000 he produced Hindustan Ki Kasam and Raju Chacha. Though the films bombed at the box-office, Ajay is now confident that his directorial debut releasing this month will do well.
Early in his career Ajay showed his penchant for action in films like Jigar (1992), Divya Shakti (1992), Vijaypath(1994), Hulchul (1995) and others that one could only expect from the son of well-known action director Veeru Devgan.
In 1999, Ajay married his co-star and friend Kajol and they have a four-year-old daughter named Nyasa. The couple will be seen together after a long time in U, Me Aur Hum.
After his action period, Ajay surprised the audience with his comic performances in Ishq (1997), Golmaal - Fun Unlimited (2006) and his ability to emote in Pyaar Toh Hona Hi Tha (1998) and Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam (1999).
His powerful acting in Zakhm (1998), The Legend of Bhagat Singh (2002), Company (2002), GangaaJal (2003), Yuva (2004), Raincoat (2004), Omkara (2006) and others won him critical acclaim.
On the actor's versatility, director Rajkumar Santoshi, who has made some of his best films with Ajay, said: "One of his strengths is that he can get under the skin of any well-written role and make it his own. He has sharp, expressive eyes. And he appears to be very natural in all the challenging characters he has played so far."
Ajay has won two National Awards - the first one for Mahesh Bhatt-directed Zakhm and the other for Santoshi's The Legend of Bhagat Singh.
This year, he doled out a power-packed performance in Santoshi's Halla Bol and Rohit Shetty-directed comedy flick Sunday.
His upcoming films include U, Me Aur Hum and animation film Toonpur Ka Superstar which he is producing himself.