Ajay Devgn: People are not writing films like ‘Zakhm’ any more!

That’s why the intense actor has been churning out film after film that boasts one kind of entertainment. As Bol Bachchan gears for release, Ajay Devgn talks about his latest action comedy

After playing the feisty mustachioed cop in Singham, Ajay Devgn makes a comeback as a serious pehlwan who is obsessed with honesty and speaking in English in Rohit Shetty’s Bol Bachchan. Before the superstar sets off for a round of city tours to promote his latest entertainer (inspired from Hrishikesh Mukherjee’s Golmaal) that he has co-produced, the brooding actor engages in a round of Q&A with the media.

What’s the similarity between your character in Bol Bachchan and Utpal Dutt’s role in Golmaal?
As a character, there is no similarity. It’s adapted. When you try to adapt a 40-year-old film, everything changes completely. The base idea is from the original, but that’s about it.

What’s the secret of Rohit Shetty and you as a winning combination at the box office?
Touch wood! I think when the film is right, everything is right. Luckily all our films have been good, and Bol Bachchan has also shaped up very well. It’s a clean entertainer. It has what the audience wants.

Abhishek Bachchan and you worked together in Rohit’s first film (Zameen), but BB is a completely different genre. What was the experience like working with him again?
We really had to push Abhishek to get into our zone of comedy timing. His comedy timing pattern is different and not the script’s demand. It took him a day or two and then he settled down (in his character).

Since you say Bol Bachchan is quite different from Golmaal, was there a real need to buy the remake rights?
No! But eventually I believe that if you are inspired by a film, it’s only ethical to buy the rights. I think Hrishida was a great filmmaker and we can’t compare ourselves with him. Our film is like a tribute to him.

When you say a film is inspired from a past hit movie, a lot of undue baggage gets attached to the new one…
It’s not about baggage. It’s about being ethical! If we don’t follow it, we can’t expect the others to do so. You have to set an example somewhere. We have been in the industry for the past 20 years and if we don’t do it, we can’t expect new people to do it.

Did your pehlwan (body builder) role involve any kind of preparation?
I can’t prepare for a role. The only thing I did was to put on a little weight. Pehlwans don’t have six-packs, so I gained a little more muscle. I started eating everything that I had stopped eating and I was good to go.

Your co-stars Asin and Prachi Desai say you are big prankster…
Not any more. I haven’t played a single prank in the last one or two years. They are just spoiling my name (smiles).

Has anyone ever played a prank on you?
No – nobody has the guts to do that!

You have been in the industry for 20 years. Is there anything you are not comfortable doing onscreen?
Everything is comfortable and nothing is comfortable. Every day I think, will I be able to perform this, will I be comfortable doing this… And that has to be there – if you don’t feel like that, you should stop working.

Your films like the Golmaal series and Singham have had a fantastic run at the box office. What’s your success formula?
I really don’t think I have cracked a formula. The bottom line is that the person who spends Rs 250 or Rs 300 on a movie wants to be entertained. They don’t want to get educated on world cinema. Entertainment can be comedy, action, emotion…anything, but it has to be entertaining. If you work towards it, it’s difficult to go wrong.

In the past you have done serious films like Gangaajal and Zakhm
Gangaajal is also very entertaining! That is Prakash Jha’s knack of picking up a realistic idea and making it very engaging and entertaining. There are other filmmakers who also pick up real ideas, but they make it very boring, like a documentary. So it’s not that I won’t do such films. All I am saying is that they have to be entertaining.

As an actor, creatively speaking, don’t you get tired of doing the same action scenes and saying funny dialogues?
You try to put in your best even in those roles. These characters are also tough to do. But the thing is, I haven’t heard a great script like Zakhm since then. If I do, I will definitely do it. People are not writing anything like that any more.

The media and a certain section of the industry look down upon the films that make Rs 100 crores at the box office. What do you have to say to that?
I think the grapes are sour there. People who can’t achieve that say it’s not the right cinema. You can’t wrong the audience. If your film has made Rs 100 crore, then 70 to 80 crore people have gone and watched it. So are you trying to say that they are all foolish? You are making movies for the audience, so you can’t say the audience is wrong. You have to give them what they like. Otherwise you make your kind of movies and watch at home. Why make it for an audience!