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Ajay Devgan: Little variety in Hindi films

From a non-actor to an accomplished performer, Ajay Devgan has come miles from "Phool Aur Kaante" to "The Legend of Bhagat Singh". In New Delhi to promote his latest film, "Deewangee", he suggests that Bolywood should be called Indian Film Industry. RANA A. SIDDIQUI catches up with the versatile actor...

'OH I am sorry if you had been waiting for me. I never knew. Do you mind if I take a shower and come back. I will take just 15-20 minutes.'

This is a polite Ajay Devgan caught in the elevator on the way to his seventh floor room at New Delhi's Le Meridien, requesting media-persons to be patient. And in 15 minutes flat, he is ready, warm and welcoming. He is here to meet the Press for the promotion of his latest flick "Deewangee" released this past week.

`I have said no to drugs' reads his black T-shirt and Ajay cannot help himself lighting a cigarette after every 10 minutes! "Can't leave it, you know. It is so difficult... " he says, though refuses to get photographed, smoking! "No, no, let me throw it. It does not look decent," he insists. But he just does not mind Bermudas that show off his thin legs. "I shed weight for Bhagat Singh," he justifies his frail frame. He has also grown a French beard that he says is to suit his role in Ramgopal Varma's upcoming film "Bhoot".

"Please don't call our film world as Bollywood. Why should we always ape the West? Can't we apply our own brains to give our film industry a name?" he asks and suggests IFA for Indian Film Industry.

"People have been saying that I go for different roles, but I feel amazed. Where are the different roles at all? I feel tired now -- doing similar roles one after the other," Ajay minces no words indicating that Hindi film scripts are brimming with repetition. And the mourning continues in his tone as he discusses the new genre in films and technology.

"Technology wise, our films are growing fast but it should accelerate more now. Ideally, the changes that we expect will happen in two years time must happen within six months. Times are too competitive," he says. He is quick with repartee if you mention to him that Indian films are aping Hollywood. "They also ape us a lot. Do you know that? Now they pick up a lot from Indian Hindi films in their latest flicks."

We also know that his debut production "Raju Chacha" also used lot of technical expertise and was a big budget film. "You can't expect to make a technically sound film in lesser amount. So it had to be big budget. I wanted to make a film for children and so the money did not pinch but its failure did," Ajay admits.

So how did he work out "Devi", a serial on small screen? "I just liked the script and thought it should reach the masses, hence... " But he certainly gives a big no for his own appearance in it. "I would not like to work for television. One, because too much exposure is not good for an actor, second, indulging in so many projects might make me end up doing nothing, so why take a risk?"

Not a method actor, Ajay favours a basic acting training. "It does not teach you how to act but it opens up you before a large audience," he says while informing that his acting skills were furnished at Roshan Taneja's School and he knows all technical side of direction through Shekhar Kapur, Deepak, Kundan Shah and others as he assisted them in directing "for five years in some 20 films."

Mention "The Legend of Bhagat Singh" and he has a lot to say: "I did not watch the earlier films on him before enacting Bhagat Singh. I was handed over piles of information to go through the soul of the character. I discovered him only in papers."

The debate on the release of the film is what makes him a bit fiery. "We were the one to start it first. I don't know why others started it? We were very clear on it. We knew that if people would watch one Bhagat Singh, they wouldn't go for another one, so we mutually consented to release together. And I realise that we were just right being firm on its release. No Bhagat Singh film is now daring to touch the silver screen," Ajay seems visibly happy.

His happiness turns into a shy smile as one mentions his wife, Kajol. Ask him when he realised being in love with her and he turns pink. "I don't know. Please don't ask," he flashes his first grin. Family plans? "Not now," he says though we hear just the opposite. Does he mind her returning to films? "It is entirely her wish. If a film is worth her, why not?"

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