Over the course of nearly two decades, Ajay Devgn has established himself as one of the most respected and iconic screen actors in history. This is a position he has achieved both through the relentless perfectionism of his approach to his work, and the ferocity with which he protects his private life. Apart from the very occasional tabloid snippet, we hear nothing about the man, only ever seeing him when he's playing someone else - which is, of course, exactly how he wants it to be.
This special correspondent chats with one of India's finest on his next film Aakrosh, his visionary director Priyadarshan, his issues, his country, his research, his audience, his unprepared role and his different genres.
My director: the visionary Priyadarshan
While working with Priyadarshan, I've come to know that Aakrosh is one of the most beautifully shot films I've been a part of. He understands small nuances so well. No matter how many comedy films Priyan has made, his forte is realistic films with a message. His forte is films like Aakrosh.
My country, my issues
Yes, as a citizen of India, we are lacking behind in a lot of things. It is happening due to some sort of corruption we have in our system, and what's worse is the fact that we've accepted that too. With the kind of intelligence and the people we have and the kind of people we are, we could be ruling the world.
I haven't done any research for Aakrosh but whatever I've been reading in the papers, it's so sad. The film is about one incident and how the CBI tries to solve it in spite of resistance. The most powerful people in the areas affected support honour killing. So what can one do to stop it is what the film is all about.
The audiences are aware of what's happening outside the world of films too. They read the newspapers; watch the news on the television and so on. The intelligence of the audiences has changed. They have become more literate. Their exposure to international cinema and television is highly commendable too. So Aakrosh is going to be a film which will attract intelligent audiences.
My unprepared role
Even before the shot I was not sure what I'll do and how I'll do it. It is my instincts and it has always worked for me. If I get into method acting, I won't deliver. It's great if actors can pull it off but I can't.
I'm trying to do everything. I'm not boycotting anything as far as my choices are concerned. I do an action film and then again switch back to comedy, then again a drama, a romantic film, etc. But the intention is that the audiences want to see a different actor than a different character sometimes. For me, if I keep doing the same old thing, there is no fun working.
If there is one word that describes versatility in Indian cinema, it has to be Ajay Devgn. Not blessed with matinee idol good looks, Devgn has had to work hard for what he's got. And what he's got is one of the most impressive CVs in Bollywood history. Even the most casual fan of cinema would recall his flicks like Phool Aur Kaante, Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam, Golmaal and Omkara. It's the type of genres he taps into that has made him successful.