Ajay Devgn and comedy have a deep connect. The Bollywood superstar, who has earned his stripes doing ‘intense’ roles, has been equally faithful to the comic genre. That’s why between the Hum Dil De Chuke Sanams, Gangajals and Singhams, the actor, whose eyes are his most eloquent feature, has continuously made room for films that tickle the funny bone.
You don’t need to search hard to notice that he has punctuated the serious stuff with light-hearted movies like Ishq (1997), Pyaar To Hona Hi Tha (1998), the Golmaal franchise and of course, Son of Sardaar (2012). The Golmaal Again star believes that if you don’t make a person laugh, you’re that much less effective. Perhaps it’s for this reason that Ajay continues to flirt with comedy. That thought brings him and us to Total Dhamaal, his Friday release.
A Q&A session with the two-time National Award winner, who thinks comedy is serious business.
You always maintain that comedy is one genre which you’ll never move away from.
Who doesn’t want to laugh? We all have our problems. But I truly believe that if you don’t laugh enough, you haven’t lived it up. Comedy films are an addiction. You can watch them anytime anywhere. Talking of my own movies, I normally don’t watch them more than once. They may be brilliant, but I just don’t have the inclination to see them again. However, if it’s one of my comedy films, I stand around the television and definitely watch the funny scenes for at least five to seven minutes. I repeat, all of us need to laugh out loud. But that’s not my reason for doing comedies. I’m doing it because I enjoy the genre. Of course, I’m against doing just buffoonery. In fact, the other day someone close to me observed that I even do comedy seriously.
Yes, the person said that it’s funny the way you do comedy so seriously.
Comedy and you go way back, right?
Ya, Ishq and Pyaar To Hona Hi Tha done in the ’90s were funny. The Golmaal franchise has continued for a decade and there have been innumerable other films including Son Of Sardaar. When I have a release coming up, the first thing my children (Nysa and Yug) turn around and ask is, if it’s a comedy? They are excited if it is. If it’s not, then they’re like, “God, is the ending sad?” They are like, “Will it make us cry?” The questions don’t stop.
So, you’ve got your own home-grown audience for comedy...
Exactly. And I think that’s the case in every house. The Kapil Sharma Show is a hit with families because everyone wants to sit down together and share a laugh. Likewise, the Golmaal and Dhamaal franchise have a faithful following.
Besides subscribing to the view that laughter is the best medicine, you have also turned over a new leaf. You’ve become quite a party-goer...you went to Bobby Deol’s birthday bash last month.
Bobby is my neighbour, he lives across my home. I just had to step out and step in.
A few nights before that you also went to Karan Johar’s party.
That was only the other night that I went out. So, it’s only two occasions that you’re talking about.
It’s nice that you have finally learnt to step out.
I try to make the effort. Earlier too, I did try and on many occasions, I was dressed to go out. But then all of a sudden, I changed my mind. I have no clue why I did that. I would run away from the thought of going out. However, I’m attempting to change and become more social. I like meeting friends, so I guess I will make the effort.
Talking of your funny bone, your answers on Koffee With Karan (KWK) were witty beyond words. You even won an Audi for the best answer. We heard you beat Aamir Khan?
I have no idea about who I beat. I just went there and decided that I was going to let my guard down. The nature of the show is such that you need to lighten up. Extempore casual talk zyada funny hota hai. People think I’m a serious person, but I can be a lot of fun.
Total Dhamaal has you reuniting with Anil Kapoor and Madhuri Dixit-Nene. Anil says that both of you never treat each other like a junior and a senior.
We all get along very well. I respect him as an actor and a senior. I keep telling him that no one can work as hard as he does. He’s been working since the early ’80s, I think his enthusiasm and spirit are indefatigable. He can keep going on. He will do retakes till he is satisfied with a shot. Not all of us are like that. That is something we all need to learn from him, or make him unlearn (smiles).
But, apart from that, Anil is so much fun. He has no ego, like ‘I’m your senior’. I can tell him whatever I want to. I like him and respect him, I can pull his leg and he also responds the same way. I have seen him since I was quite young because my dad (action-director, Veeru Devgan) has done a number of films with Anil.
Yes, he has said he has a long innings of working with your father.
I remember when I was growing up, he used to come home. So, I know him since then. It’s a fabulous rapport that we share. And it’s so nice on the set, to see everyone get along with each other, it’s like one nice picnic. The funny thing on the Total Dhamaal set was that no one wanted to go home after their scenes. Even if someone had packed up, we would sit on the set and chat. Where do you find this kind of camaraderie? It’s a bit rare.
Normally, it’s said that the director is the captain of the ship. But this time it’s said that you were the godpa on the set.
What rubbish. I think that’s a piece of misinformation. Why would you even say something like that?
Oh ok, sorry. But one heard that you kind of put together the whole project.
Never. It is Indra Kumar and Ashok Thakeria’s baby all the way. I love my association with Induji. He’s a really positive guy.
How did you step into this Dhamaal franchise?
Induji was struggling to put this sequel together. I heard the narration, I liked it, so I was in. When the shooting began, everyone in the industry was so happy for Induji. He has tremendous goodwill, he is a genuinely nice person and he suffers because of that. He can’t say no to people. So, we have to tell him that if you can’t say no to people, we will do it for you.
It was also nice to see Akshay Kumar tweeting for Mungda, your song with Sonakshi Sinha.
Akshay and I have always liked and respected each other. We both started out together, practically, just one year apart. We lead different lives and don’t exactly socialise with one another. However, whenever we meet, we’re chilled out. I know I can pick the phone on him and ask him something and vice versa. What’s also nice is that he is in his own world. He’s not keeping tabs on anyone. I’m also the same. We’re two of a kind.
Anil (Kapoor) was saying Salman (Khan) and you are confident guys. You have no insecurities with your co-stars...
Yeah, we don’t. After 25-27 years, what insecurity will we have? Agreed, just before our film’s release, we’re jittery. But I won’t call that insecurity. You work hard and if something hasn’t shaped up as you envisioned, you get upset. That is not insecurity. It’s anxiety. Sometimes, you blame yourself and promise to be more careful the next time while choosing the projects.