Ajay Devgn is known for his versatility and how, from playing an underdog role to being a gangster, to act funny; he does it all.  He is known to be one of the most bankable superstars. In a candid conversation with us, Ajay spoke about his recent release ‘Total Dhamaal’, how comedy comes naturally to him now, and how comedy as a genre has evolved immensely in the recent years. Excerpts:

Will it be appropriate to say that’ Ishq’ was your first film when comedy happened to you?
Yes. But I didn’t know I had this streak while doing ‘Ishq’. I just did it as the script demanded, but that’s how it started off and I was uncomfortable initially, in comedy. Indra Kumar’s comedy was at a different zone, I never use to think like this before, and now, how I started thinking like this is a different thing but that time I was a little awkward.  Actually it’s not like you can’t do comedy, everyone has a sense of humor but to adapt to somebody else’s humor in a different way was tough initially. So, then you start adapting your own humor, now what I do is the way I want to do it.

But were you awkward then, because you were the hero who only did action?
Yes, because I hadn’t done it, not because I was only doing action and Indu’s mind set was completely different back then.  I was also young, my mind set was also different, and there was a thought process, so to break that thought process it takes time.

And during that time you were making ‘Pyaar Toh Hona Hi Tha’…
But the comedy in ‘Pyaar Toh Hona Hi Tha’ was a little different. It was a little subtle, poker face and ‘Ishq’ was completely loud and different. So there were two different things, like I said, we all have a sense of humor but getting into that zone was initially little awkward but not tough.

Which comedy film would you prefer more? ‘Ishq’ or’ ‘Pyaar Toh Hona Hi Tha’ kind of a film?
I feel both the kinds, merged, back then physical comedy use to happen a lot but now along with physical comedy, writing is equally important because today’s audience will not accept it only if we make faces. In 90’s and 80’s, there use to specially be a comedian and that was very physical but nothing was specifically written on it but today there are full fled stories made on comedy and now both the things have merged and have become one thing. For example – the character in ‘Golmaal’ if it’s loud, it’s equally serious and yet he is doing comedy. So, I think characterisation has changed.

When a super star does comedy, they are glorified. And people really want to watch them on-screen. On the other hand, comedians all this while have not got their due. What do you have to say about that?
I think the times have changed, and they didn’t get their due which I totally agree, that too being fabulous actors. In today’s time they are getting their due whoever is still there.  But even then, that time Mehboob sahab and others were stars; also back then there were no comedy film as a genre but now there is.

Being one of the most successful names in Bollywood, do you have the nervousness or you take success or failure in on go, at this point of time?
You take success and failure in one go but you get little disturbed when you face failures because you have worked hard on something. But there is no insecurity that what will happen next, there is nothing of that sort but you try to analyze what went wrong, if your judgment went wrong, or something else. So many times you do films, you imagine a film in a certain way when you hear the script but while doing the film you realize, it’s not being made the way you imagined it or after finishing the film you realize that – this is not what you thought it was, so then you feel bad, that something went wrong. Your judgment cannot be 100% always.

What do you think is necessary for a filmmaker to remain relevant?
Change with today’s time, look at other people’s work, let’s even forget work but look at the new generation, your own children, their friends, how people are thinking today and  don’t  just stay relevant as a filmmaker or as an actor but be relevant as a human being in the society. For me if I don’t adapt to what my children think today or what they like, dislike. I won’t be relevant as a father also.

Do you believe comedy has become strength for you now and also how much do you enjoy doing comedy?
I enjoy swapping genres. I did ‘Raid’, and then I did ‘De De Pyaar De’ which is another kind of comedy, a rom-com which is in a different zone to what I am doing now. Then I have ‘Taanaji’, so I like to swap and then go back to comedy again.

What stage is ‘Taanaji’ on?
The shooting going on and its 60% completed.

From your body of work and the different kind of characters that you have done, which is that one character that attracts you the most?
I can’t think like this, you have to adapt to a character. You hear a script, you like the character then you adapt to it, it’s not that I have a role model and I want to do something like that. After doing 100 films, you have practically done every shade, so you have to adapt a character in a new way and that is challenging.

How did you come in as a producer for ‘Total Dhamaal’, was it Indra Kumar’s idea or yours?
There were a lot of things which we needed to do together to co-produce it  because it was a big budget film, it was a adventure comedy which hasn’t done earlier so to take it at scale and zone so I became a part of this film in producing.

Indra Kumar had told us in an interview about your VFX Company ‘NY’, can you tell us how did that happen?
I was always inclined to it. My name is in the Limca Book of Records for doing the first CG in my country.  And that point of time I did it myself, I’ve been very savvy with all this. Technically I’ve always been savvy.

Which was that film?
This was for the title-track by Remo of ‘Pyaar Toh Hona Hi Tha’ – I shot a part of the song with 123 layers. The machine was new, and there were no operators. So I used it myself! I did a lot of similar work later, and my company began about four or five years ago with boys who are fabulous at it. Trade Magazine