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Making the negative endearing

Ajay Devgan has outdone himself yet again, writes Arnab Banerjee.

india Updated: Dec 04, 2005 13:01 IST

There are actors whose narcissistic streak in themselves invariably makes them choose characters that highlight their positive traits and in the bargain get trapped in set images. Primarily their insatiable love for seeking glory stems from
insecurity which most actors suffer from. And then there are some actors who never shy away from exploring the unfamiliar territories for the sake of delving into a wide cross-section of the human psyche.

Trained actors like Naseeruddin Shah and PankajKapoor, without doubt, fall into this category. And then there is Ajay Devgan whose meteoric rise as a 'stunt actor’ (his father Veeru Devgan is a renowned fight master) from his early days had almost stamped him as a star meant only for masala films. Critics never failed to write him off as another ‘action’ hero whose popularity would last as long as he remained fit enough to handle fights.

It was Mahesh Bhatt’s Zakham which brought him into national acclaim followed by a string of releases which slotted him in the ‘angry young man’ groove. Subsequently there were films which Devgan signed, not to prove his detractors wrong, but more to "understand the medium of cinema in all its forms," by his own admission. Meanwhile a slew of films prominently focusing on Hollywood-inspired violence and gore sequences, did continue to star him in the lead.
But filmmakers of the caliber of Prakash Jha(Gangajal), Mani Rathnam (Yuva), Ram Gopal Varma(Company) had also found yet another actor, who could like Amitabh Bachchan, combine macho charisma and some superb acting potential. Devgan continued to bag their films and proved his mettle with elan.

Mahesh Bhatt’s Zakham which brought national acclaim to Ajay Devgan 

This week, Prakash Jha directed


– based on the errant kidnappings that have virtually been a trademark vocation in the state of Bihar for long -has Devgan essaying a role of a youth raised with tender care of idealism and valued based ethics by his scrupulous and righteous professor father. As things

turn sour for him with no hope coming his way when even after clearing the exams for an entry into the Police force his name gets struck off by unprincipled

and corrupt ministers whose favored ‘candidates’ get enrolled instead, Devgun’s seething fury gets unleashed as he decides to fight the issue head on.

As Ajay Shastri, Devgan has all he shades of grey that one could conceive of – he respects his father, loves and protects his girlfriend, dotes on his friends but also kills for money but ruthlessly bumps off cronies of his gangster boss too for wrong doing, all along facing evil with his in-your-face challenge. His body language and mannerisms convey his angst against the system but he also plays along like an experienced and adept gang leader who buffets between the lust of a cabinet ranking minister in Bihar and other wannabes craving for power.

But his uncompromising character is endearing even after one has known that as a power hungry second lieutenant to his boss, he could remove any hurdle coming in the way. His human side gets much sympathy from the audience as his former girlfriend’s husband falls prey to his demands leaving him forlorn. He even returns the ransom paid to him by her knowing well that it would earn him his boss’ wrath. While distinction is often not made between a well-written role and one’s acting abilities, Devgan’sportrayal rises above the taut script as he adds several shades to his negative character.

First Published: Dec 04, 2005 08:00 IST