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Racing to be a Superstar

A star or a racer? Ajit wants to be both...

A COUPLE of insipid movies notwithstanding, actor-racer Ajit is full of enthusiasm while shooting for his next flick the "Jee." He is still leading a dual life, as an actor and a racer. And, trying to make a success of it. The man who created a flutter by announcing that he is in the race for superstardom is unperturbed by the criticism that has come his way.

"I am in the race," he declares openly when we caught up with him in the midst of a fight sequence. You wonder whether this has anything to do with his typecasting (as a do-gooder super hero) in films? "It is only after "Mugavari" I decided to change track. It was my best film after "Valli", but it didn't receive a very good response. That's when I decided I wanted to be a star and not an actor. I want to be the best in the business. What is the harm in saying this? I did not talk about unseating anyone. I only spoke about wanting to be there too," he says.

Does he have any regrets about not pandering to the actor in him? "No. To satisfy the actor in me, I'd rather sit at home and watch a nice movie. I will not do it at the producer's cost."

"Cinema is like any other service industry. You have to give what people want. And I am doing exactly that," he explains. "If you go by the number of hits alone to decide a Superstar, you will have one every Friday. In Tamil Nadu, superstars are separated by decades," he points out.

His definition of Superstar is simple. "He should be able to generate business irrespective of how the film is. He should have mass appeal and an audience for his films."

His long-in-the-making "Jana," which hit the marquee recently, did average business. How does he rate the movie? He's silent for a moment and then says: "My fans are quite happy. They felt it was better than "Anjaneya." I was myself pretty amazed at the opening the film had received."

Why have his recent movies fared badly at the box office? "In these two years, I haven't got the right kind of script. Also, the post-publicity campaigns for the movies were bad," he says.

His focus now is to complete "Jee," which is slated for a mid-August release and give his all to "Attagasam" (directed by Saran and a Deepavali release) and "Mirattal" (Pongal release). The names indicate these are also action flicks. Does it mean we will never get to see him in roles he excelled — as the boyish hero with a brave streak in him? "I'm tired of doing boy-chase-girl roles. I cannot walk around with a rose in my hand anymore. But, I'm still open to roles like the one in "Kandukondain Kandukondain" (the hero was soft but ambitious) and "Villain"."

"I'm weighing my options carefully and want time to make my next move. I don't want to make any mistakes."

Despite the ups and downs in his film career, his passion for racing continues. "Though I couldn't make it to the top slot in British Formula III Scholarship Class, I've managed to get on to the podium. Not many manage to do that. As the adage goes, `You have to first finish to finish first'," he adds.

"This year, I will take part in as many races as possible.I will do only two movies a year because I need more time to race."

Till now, he has been racing against time, rushing from film shoots to the airport to catch flights to the U.K.

Mention Shalini (his wife) and his face lights up. "Marriage is a great thing," he says. The topic soon shifts to children, and Ajit ponders for a while before answering. "I firmly believe that a woman must decide when to have a child. She goes through hell, so many hormonal changes... It's so easy for a man to father a child. But, I want to be there for my wife and kid. I want to see my child grow up. Yes, it should be my wife's call."

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