Ajay Devgan on his role in Once upon a time in Mumbai
With Rajneeti, the biggest hit of the year behind him, Ajay Devgan is ready with yet another thrilling drama, Once Upon a Time In Mumbaai, where he plays the legendary Haji Mastan. Ajay Devgn is confident about another hit this time too. For the Devgn guy life has certainly moving at a rapid pace. The actor spoke to TWF Correspondent Gaurav Sharma on his films, family, playing Haji Mastan and more
You must be on a high after the huge success of Raajneeti…
It is really a great feeling. Given the canvas of the film we were a little weary but Prakashji (Prakash Jha) pulled it off with élan’. All credits need to be passed onto him.
Raajneeti has once again proved that you are Prakash Jha’s lucky mascot.
Somewhere deep down we all believe in luck but all I can say, it is 99 percent perspiration that reaps the results. Of course we are really happy as a team because whenever he has come up with a role for me I have felt confident.
You are preparing for fatherhood once again. At the same time you have signed on quite a few projects…
(Laughs) That is an interesting observation but to be true I have been juggling between multiple projects and my family life all throughout my career. I live in a joint family with my parents, Kajol and Nysa, so there is a support system in place. Apart from that I make it a point to spend as much time as possible at home when I’m not working and I play with Nysa. So I think I’m well prepared to take on the responsibility of fatherhood.
Okay, now with Once Upon A Time In Mumbaai you are back again playing the mafia. What are your expectations with the film given that it comes just after a hit like Rajneeti?
I’m really excited about the release. (Smiles) It’s my second innings where I play a mafia after films like Company. And more than anything this is one role that anyone would have loved to play. I am lucky to have got the chance once again to play a mafia. Yes, it is a very intricate story with high voltage dialogues and I really had a great time mouthing them.
Which was more interesting — Company or Once Upon A Time In Mumbaai?
To be honest both are very different though both revolve around the underworld in Mumbai. But just like I got appreciated playing Malik in Ram Gopal Varma’s Company here too I am expecting the audience to appreciate my role.
But Once Upon A Time In Mumbaai again is different in many respects given that it is based on the life of the iconic Haji Mastan…
The title itself speaks a lot about the film. It’s about the time when Mumbai started falling under the mafia siege. From the culture, fashion, the lifestyle to everything about Mumbai changed a lot during that period and we have tried to explore all these areas and portray it in the film. There were a lot of things like sideburns; bellbottoms and the typical songs that we started listening to at that time are still in vogue today. They have only reinvented themselves.
So your role, that of Sultan too must have been a lot different from the other mafia films you have played.
Certainly it is. He is a mafia but has a good side to it. He is generous, warm and accommodating. This is completely different from the ones I have played earlier, where the gangster is shrewd and conniving.
But the audience expects a lot whenever you are playing a real life character and here it’s Haji Mastan more so because you have earlier played Bhagat Singh too.
(Smiles again) Yes people draw parallels but beyond a point it is fiction. Like any other film I have blocked time to think about the character. I devoted time to understand the character of Sultan, his vision and of course a little bit of background study was a must.
As for playing real life characters it’s definitely a challenge as people have a pre conceived notion of the characters. I think the primary requirement of any such plots is a very tight script. The rest is on the actor as to how much he can absorb and emote. Bhagat Singh was an exact portrayal of the legendary freedom fighter but Sultan still remains fiction.
Emraan Hashmi plays Dawood Ibrahim in this film where as you played Dawood in Company.
The roles are modeled on the same man but then again they are completely different. Emraan’s character Shoaib is director Milan Luthria’s imagination where as Malik was Ramu’s imagination and they both have to be different.
But did you give Emaraan any handy tips?
Tips or course correction is inherent to film making. Not just me or other actors, anybody in the directorial team can come up with a value addition. All I can say is I got along very well with Emmy and there was perfect harmony.
So a lot is happening in your life…
Oh yes, certainly I am happy about everything that has happened so far.