Informal chat with Ajay and Sidharth enlivens Diwali trailer launch of Thank God

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Sidharth Malhotra and Ajay Devgn at the Diwali trailer launch of Thank God. Also seen is the film’s PR, Parag Desai. Photo: Rajiv Vijayakar

The first trailer of Thank God, released a few weeks ago, was a hoot. The new one, launched on October 13, is even funnier, took up on a joke used in Trailer 1, and elicits  a punch-packed remark on it from Ajay Devgn, who portrays CG a.k.a. Chitragupta, the deity who keeps accounts of human beings and their deeds!

“The film entertains but has a powerful message!” smiles Indra Kumar, during the informal chat the media has with the director-producer and Ajay Devgn and Sidharth Malhotra at the launch event at Sunny Super Sound in Mumbai. “In that sense, it is quite different from all my earlier comedies (the Masti and Dhamaal franchises).”

Sidharth Malhotra, ever affable, tells me that the one-liner at the end of this trailer, delivered to his character by CG, is a hard-hitting reminder to human beings not to take sorrows so intensely. His character has died and as per his deeds, he will be punished by being sent to hell or rewarded with heaven. The sentence goes, “Jab ek joke pe baar baar has nahin sakte, to ek ghama pe baar baar rote kyoon ho, mere dost (When you cannot laugh at a joke more than once, why do you cry multiple times for one sorrow, my friend)?”

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Added the actor, “There are many more such lines in this film, and all the credit goes to our writers, Madhur Sharma and Aakash Kaushik.” Introducing me to the unassuming writer-duo that also writes separately (Aakash also co-wrote Bhool Bhulaiyaa 2), he adds, “Writers are so important. And Ajay-sir has that gift of making such lines sound even better than their writing.”

He hoped that the film, which was a family entertainer with a message and was thus perfect for Diwali, would do well. “This is the first Diwali in three years when there are no masks or restrictions. People would want to go out and watch movies, so what better than entertainment for all?”

This being his first-ever comedy, how did Sidharth find this genre and how was it working with Indra Kumar? With a grin, he replies, “I was working with Indu-ji, who has been around since the 1980s, and Ajay sir, who came in over 30 years ago! What better than this to improve my craft? As for comedy, it takes harder work out of you. And more time is needed to get things right.”

Indra Kumar chuckles when asked in return how it was working with the young actor. “If you see my career, I like to repeat my actors. I will definitely work with Sidharth again!” I give him a suggestion: cast him in the fourth film in the Dhamaal franchise, and he laughs. “Let’s see!” he says.

Ajay Devgn, associated with the filmmaker now for 25 years (Ishq was their first collaboration), also credits the filmmaker for his sense of entertainment for the family. I ask the actor whether, as shown happening with so many actors and actresses in several end-credit videos of films, he has also cracked up with laughter while mouthing funny lines with a serious face (his forte), and he smiles and shakes his head. “I can control that!” the smile seems to say!

I ask why a proper interview of his is not being held for this film, and he says, “I will be having four releases now in six months! Maybe we will meet soon!”

My next question opens up a debate. Why does he think a film like his Runway 34 did not do well theatrically when it is a huge success on OTT? For answer, he shrugs and says, “I don’t know! I think that nowadays the people decide in advance what to watch in theatres and when to wait for the streaming release. Most of them decided to watch Runway 34 only later, I guess. We have to see and understand what change has come, and why.”

And why was that? Was it the high ticket rates? “If we reduce the rates, most films will lose money!” he feels. “But what needs to be addressed is the issue of huge prices charged for food and beverages. If a family has come to watch a film and children demand something, the parents cannot say that it is too expensive and not buy it. And if, for example, a tub of popcorn costs Rs. 450, they would rather not come to the movie halls.” And Indra Kumar nods in agreement.

On a lighter note, a fellow scribe informs Ajay (a master at technology and VFX himself!) that he did not find the sets of heaven “impressive” in the trailer! In a bland tone with a blank look, Ajay asks him, “Have you seen heaven? You haven’t, right? We all have no foundation to build on, and my interpretation of heaven can be different from yours or anyone else’s, right?”

‘Thank God’ this answer silences the scribe in just the same way as CG upstages the hero in the film!

 

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