"Come to Vasai fort," he says with near masochistic glee. Since a journo’s beat takes him all over the compass, the faraway spot..an hour away by a manically driven car..is no big deal.
Of late, the domesticated actor has been avoiding late night shoots..unless it’s absolutely essential. Early-to-bed-early-to-rise, today he’s shooting at 7 am for Ram Gopal Varma ke Sholay. So, here’s Ajay Devgan exchanging news and views with Hiren Kotwani.
I’m ushered into his vanity van. When I ask him wassup.. what’s his current state of mind, he laughs, “What kind of a question is that? I’m happy the way I was yesterday last month or , last year.”
Exhaling his trademark puffs of cigarette smoke, he offers chai and ‘snakes.’ And I offer him the question:
Despite the newsmaking Omkara and Golmaal you haven’t been in the news.. why the low profile?
I don’t know how to go about this profile-making business. I’m satisfied that whatever I did last year worked well, the rest doesn’t matter.
Are you satisfied with the way your 16-year-old career has gone?
I’m more than satisfied. I’m doing exactly what I want do, I’ve done every kind of role, I haven’t been typecast. At the end of the day I’m certain that I haven’t made any compromises.
The Ajay Devgan–Shah Rukh Khan war was pretty intense with Omkara and Kabhi Alvida Na Kehna vying for public attention, wasn’t it?
The battle was created by the media. As far as I’m concerned, there was no issue. They’re two different films, I don’t know what all the fuss was all about.
Apparently, you’re not pleased with the award nominations and the mileage Omkara got, compared to KANK
There’s no question of my being happy or not. I don’t attend award functions, so it’s okay by me if I’m not nominated. Really, what’s the point? Do awards matter to anyone? Do they matter since the public knows what they’re all about?
Do they matter to you?
I’m not saying that everyone who gets an award doesn’t deserve it. I’m saying that everyone who gets an award doesn’t necessarily deserve it.
Do you think there’s a lobby working against you?
No one can lobby against me. If some do, I don’t understand their mindset. Who has the time anyway to care about such things? In a day, I do my work, spend time with my family and do whatever else I want to.. 24 hours are just not enough.
Are you doing a film to be directed by Soham Shah after he opted out of Dharma Productions? Hasn’t Karan Johar contributed to the script screenplay?
We still have to work out a lot of things. I don’t know who’s contributed what. No final decisions have been taken yet.
I believe your character in Rajkumar Santoshi’s Halla Bol is based on one of the Khans.
It’s not based on any one actor, the story isn’t about any one particular actor. It’s a kind of a story which hasn’t ever happened to any actor.
What’s with your war with Shah Rukh Khan anyway?
Really? What we need to do right now is to jump into a boxing ring and fight. I think you guys will be happy only if that happens. The media wants to create a tiff, so go ahead and do it. The day it happens, we’ll get into that boxing ring.
Has Soham’s association with your banner’s producer, Kumar Mangat, affected your rapport with Karan Johar?
I share a very good rapport with Karan. We don’t meet or talk every day but whenever we meet there are good vibes.
I believe you’re adamant about not not appearing on
Koffee with Karan.
I don’t want to do
I told Karan that this has nothing to do with his show. It’s just that I don’t do those kinds of programmes because I don’t feel comfortable..I’ve nerver done a TV programme of that nature and don’t want to.
Do you think it would have worked better for you if had you played Langda Tyagi (played by Saif Ali Khan) instead of Omkara?
Not at all. I wanted to play what I did. I’m pleased with the appreciation I got, it was a difficult role and yet stand out among all the performances. I’d already done two-three negative roles before, I didn’t want to take on one more at that point of time.
You’re known to work only with directors you’re friendly with -- whether it’s Ram Gopal Varma, Rajkumar Santoshi or Rohit Shetty.
There’s nothing wrong with that. They’re very good directors.. so why shouldn’t I work with them? I’ve no fixed notions about working with any director as long as the script is exciting and the director’s vision is clear.
Initially you were to play Jai in Ram Gopal Varma Ke Sholay because it fits your image of an intense actor. But eventually you’ve ended up playing Veeru.
I was never supposed to play Jai, it was always Veeru. As for the intensity, le me tell you that Ramu has changed the script entirely.
Reportedly you had a difference of opinion with Ram Gopal Varma when he paired you with Nisha Kothari.
That story is in your head. It has never been in Ramu’s or my head at all.
How are you preparing yourself to take on film direction?
I still need to plan a lot of things.. the day I’m ready, I’ll talk about it.
After the heavy losses you suffered for Raju Chacha, what lessons have you learnt about film production?
To learn from the new mistakes I may end up making.
Has distribution taken a backseat?
I’m not distributing any film right now. I haven’t bought any movie for the 18 months or more. Most producers now release their films themselves or sell it to a worldwide distributor. There are certain aspects about the business which I don’t feel agreee with at all.
Is there a huge enough market to make profit on an extravagant costume drama like Ramayan.. which you are planning?
I’m sure there is a market. A good film will never have a problem reaching its market. Ramayan is in the planning stages.
How come Kajol has agreed to play Sita?
Rajkumar Santoshi spoke to me about the project first. I liked the subject and agreed.. Kajol liked the subject too, so she’s doing it.
You don’t mind the fact that Kajol is also doing Karan Johar’s next film with Shah Rukh Khan?
So? Why do keep repeating the same thing differently? Either you don’t have brains or I don’t.
Kajol has said that you make a better father than husband. Right?
I’m trying to be equally good as both. But maybe she’s right.. fatherhood makes you more responsible. At the end of the day, there’s nothing like returning to your child’s smile.