Ajay Devgn talks about his upcoming Satyagraha and issues such as corruption, power politics and monopolisation of screens by bigger players. Harshikaa Udasi listens in
Ajay Devgn says greed is good. That makes for a good headline, doesn’t it? Ajay smiles and says, “Greed is the engine to progress. You have to be greedy to live in a better environment. You have to have the hunger to get ahead in life. If that is absent, then there is no wish to make your life better and if you don’t make your life better, then how will you ever think about making society better?”
As the actor settles down for a chat with mediapersons, it’s difficult to gauge whether he is speaking as Ajay, the man, or as his character Manav Raghavendra from the forthcoming Satyagraha by Prakash Jha (August 30). The chat quickly deviates from the film to corruption, spineless ‘powerful’ people and the like. “The condition of India today is such that everyone from the rich to the middle class to the poor is affected; if not by the dollar rate, then by the price of onions. I think the first thing that would help this country would be to have a stable majority for effective decision-making,” says Ajay.
Satyagraha is an issue-based film dealing with a people’s uprising against atrocities and political power. Manav Raghavendra (Ajay) is a corporate honcho who represents the India Shining theory. He believes in taking any possible route to success. Ajay agrees that his character represents the dichotomy of Indian youth today. “Yes, they believe in moving forward to succeed in life and doing what it takes to get there. Manav is like that too. But the idea is to channel this passion, the greed for betterment and the zeal to improve.”
He emphasises that the film offers a practical solution to the current situation. “Most youth have opinions to give and get heard on social platforms; many go on a candlelight march, but beyond that what? We are confused about what to do next. This is the problem.”
While Prakash Jha and Ajay Devgn have collaborated on many films, they didn’t do so on Aarakshan and Chakravyuh. Ironically, both films failed to ignite the box office too. “I don’t work for Prakash Jha, I work for a story. I had told him (Prakash) about Aarakshan that it seemed too thanda (unexciting) a subject and had advised him not to make it as people wouldn’t understand the film. As for Chakravyuh, I was working on other projects while Satyagraha was waiting. Hence he made one film in between,” he says candidly.
The actor has struck the right balance between commercial films and issue-based ones. “I am just lucky that audiences have accepted me in social-based roles as much as in entertainers. It’s like walking a tightrope.”
He has also been vocal about monopolisation of screens by bigger players. “I am still fighting it in court,” he says about his case against Yash Raj Films over the release of Jab Tak Hai Jaan with his Son Of Sardar on the same day last year. Ajay’s case was that Yash Raj had virtually arm-twisted distributors into giving them a higher number of single screens.
Recently Akshay Kumar’s Once Upon Ay Time In Mumbai Dobara had to vacate its release date to make way for Shah Rukh Khan’s Chennai Express. Asked about it, he says, “I took the first step against this. I had said even then that either you come together or you suffer.”
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