‘Asal’ will be a big release in the new year, but Ajith is composed as always. Everything about 'Asal' is original and genuine," says the actor

“The past few days have been hectic – round-the-clock dubbing sessions, shooting of the climax which has to be completed before we leave for Dubai for a song sequence …” Generally prompt in returning my call, Ajith explains the reason for the slight delay in his response.

An original take

Going beyond the formal exchange that occurs between an interviewer and her subject, Ajith always takes that extra effort to be genial. Questions can be frank and forthright but he fields them with composure -- a skill he has honed to perfection in the past few years. Nothing can shake the asli Ajith’s equanimity easily.

With ‘Asal’ gearing up for release in the next few weeks the film is naturally high on his agenda. “Normally I prefer to have the film speak for itself. Yet I have to tell you that every aspect including the stunts and chases exemplify the title. Everything about ‘Asal’ is original and genuine,” he smiles. The sigh of contentment conveys that the hero is happy with the end product. “We’ve slogged. The efforts should reap dividends for every one,” he adds.

That Ajith needs a winner is a given, particularly after the lukewarm response to his last release, ‘Aegan.’ “Each time I was laid up in hospital for a surgery or a film of mine didn’t do too well people have written me off, but I’ve managed to bounce back. I’ve realised that there’s no point in getting worked up about such things. What matters to me is ‘Aegan’ is a watchable film and 10 years from now it will still be so,” he defends his choice of the project.

Not just him -- ‘Asal’s director Saran badly needs a money spinner, considering that the results of his recent attempts haven’t been encouraging. Yet whenever Ajith and Saran have joined hands the results have been quite positive. ‘Kaadhal Mannan’ and ‘Amarkalam’ were runaway hits. Probably ‘Attagaasam’ wasn’t exactly so. ‘Asal’ is their fourth film together. “Saran’s debut was with me and as you say, he can do with a grosser now. ‘Asal’ should work for us. It’s a very positive film and will cater for every stratum of viewers,” asserts Ajith.

This is Ajith’s first assignment with Sivaji Films. “A rewarding experience,” he says and continues: “It’s one of the best companies I’ve worked for. I think it’s because they belong to a family of actors. They make me feel absolutely at ease. My years in the industry have taught me that acting is all about finding your comfort level. As a viewer I can gauge what can make me tick and things I’m comfortable doing. When makers have given importance to my suggestions the films have invariably done well – ‘Vaali,’ ‘Varalaaru,’ ‘Villain,’ the examples are many. Sivaji Films understands the psychology very well and Saran always gives ear to my ideas. I can discuss matters very freely with him. After all, our final goal is the same – to make a worthy and viable film.”

‘Asal’ has been filmed in exotic locations – about 60 per cent of the story is set in the lustrous outdoors of France. and quite a chunk has been canned in the country which most filmmakers these days make a beeline for – Malaysia.

Knowing Ajith’s penchant for action has he taken risks this time too? “I agree that I do have an adrenalin rush while racing or acting out fights. But I don’t go ahead if the producer and director have even an iota of misgiving. After all I know that a lot is at stake and I can’t allow myself to get injured. But we do have a chase not because I’m a racer but because it is essential for the film. As far as stunts go, considering that I’m quite accident-prone I’ve got away with just an ankle twist this time,” he laughs.

Going by the stills, Ajith looks as stylish and suave as he was in ‘Billa,’ or even more. “Yes, we are giving a lot of importance to the look of ‘Asal,’” he smiles. “And I wish to reiterate that it’s a team effort. He describes heroines Sameera and Bhavana as “thorough professionals.” Suresh, the handsome hero of the 1980s, makes a comeback in a solid role. “Raju Sundaram has done some excellent choreography and we have Antony as the editor. the icing of course is Bharadwaj’s music. I want ‘Asal’ to be a win-win situation for all of us. I’m not narcissistic to think of my gains alone. Every aspect counts. The whole group has worked hard and should rightfully share the honours.” with me.” Magnanimous words indeed, but if a film fares badly, it’s the hero who faces takes most of the brickbats and the backlash. “I know and I’m game,” is his instant reply.

Striking a rapport with the team you work with is primary, he feels. “I’ll be doing only one film a year, a decision I made after ‘Azhwar.’ Today going to the cinemas is a costly affair even for the affluent. So makers have to take enough care to give the filmgoer his money’s worth. And honestly, if it’s going to take even two years to give a good film, I’m willing,” he smiles.