The 1979 release Gol Maal keeps returning to the screens. Ajay Devgn discusses its latest avatar, Bol Bachchan
He is the co-producer of the film and one of its two lead actors. Considering that, one should expect to find Ajay Devgn wearing the proverbial ‘crown’ that makes the head of its wearer heavy. But there’s not the slightest betrayal of any worry in this man’s demeanour. He’s chilling in the suite of a suburban star hotel in Mumbai and charting out his itinerary for the limited city tours he’s making for Bol Bachchan (releasing July 6) and deciding which chartered aircraft his team should take. “It’s hectic as usual,” he says settling down, “but there is no anxiety. I have seen the film and it has turned out exactly how we had envisioned it. It’s going to be a total family entertainer,” says the star of last year’s blockbuster Singham.
Bol Bachchan is Ajay Devgn and director Rohit Shetty’s eighth collaboration in as many years. The actor-director duo have worked in Zameen (Rohit’s first film in 2003), the Golmaal series (Golmaal, Golmaal Returns and Golmaal 3) and Singham, among others, and have given five super hits together. The two are also close buddies. “Rohit was the assistant director in Phool Aur Kaante (Ajay’s debut film in 1991) and we got along rather well. We worked together as actor-director for the first time in Zameen. That was the time we got Abhishek in too. Eight years later, we’ve managed to get this team together again,” says Ajay.
The twin trouble
Bol Bachchan stars Ajay Devgn, Abhishek Bachchan, Asin and Prachi Desai in pivotal roles. The film is inspired by the 1979 Hrishikesh Mukherjee film Gol Maal starring Utpal Dutt and Amol Palekar. Ajay plays wrestler Prithviraj Raghuvanshi, the Akhada king of Ranakpur who hates lies. Abhishek plays Abbas Ali, a boy from Delhi who is in financial doldrums. Thanks to an unintentional lie which introduces him as Abhishek Bachchan to Prithviraj, Abbas has to weave a bunch of lies to save his job as accountant to his new-found boss. One of these lies is the existence of a twin brother. A wrestler thinking he is the best English speaker in town with word-to-word English translations of Hindi idioms, a moustache-less non-existent twin playing a genteel kathak teacher and each of their sisters falling head over heels for the one person the brothers abhor the most — the plot is rife for confusion and hilarity.
To be fair, the new film has only borrowed a little from the original, infusing suitable changes into the script for the present-day audience. “All Rohit has done is take the case of two men, one of whom lies to the other due to certain compulsions and the bunch of lies that follows. Utpal Dutt’s character is not there in this one as I play a younger man whose sister Abhishek falls in love with. Prachi’s character was not there in the original. There was no action obviously, but there is in our film. Yet when Rohit mooted the idea of working on Hrishida’s Gol Maal, we chose to buy the rights of the movie and then build on it. It’s only ethical,” says the man.
Evolution of an actor
Ajay is combining his action talent and great comic timing in the film. He has been lately appreciated in both these genres and has happily moved on from his only-intense-films-please status. “That’s part of an actor’s job. If someone asks me how I slip out of a Singham and get into a Bol Bachchan, I say if not that what else am I paid to do?” he laughs. After three decades in the industry, Ajay says he has realised what is right and wrong. “An actor grows,” he states. “You look at what works and what doesn’t and you tweak a little. You look back again and then shave off what you don’t want and develop what is required. It’s gradual but it comes.”
Asked if as a father and as a film producer, he senses the responsibility of making films suitable for children, Ajay agrees wholeheartedly. “I agree that cinema sometimes may not be suitable for kids. Even when the revenues coming in are huge, the films may depict things we wouldn’t want our children to watch. I made such a mistake last year — Rascals. My family refused to watch the movie. I realised that the vulgarity was too much for families. I am never ever going to do something like that again,” he says with determination.
The actor has another action comedy, Son Of Sardar (SOS), remake of the Telugu hit Maryada Ramanna, coming up this year. He is also slated to begin two much-in-the-news films — Sajid Khan’s remake of the 1983 Jeetendra-starrer Himmatwala and Prakash Jha’s Satyagraha. So there’s no trouble brewing between Jha and him, it appears? “There never was,” he says with a disarming smile. Just as you are leaving, the actor volunteers a piece of information. “By the way, I told Sajid Khan that I’d do Himmatwala only if there was no double meaning dialogue in it.” That must have taken a great deal of convincing? (Sajid is after all known for raucous comedies such as Heyy Baby, Housefull and Housefull 2.) “Not at all. Just wait and watch,” he says.