Top ‘Gn’: Ajay Devgn roars on all cylinders

Ajay Devgn is the most versatile talent in Hindi cinema today. Photo: Publicity Photo

He’s always been low-profile, the silent water that runs deep. And, simply put, yesterday’s (April 2) birthday boy is the most versatile star in the film firmament today.

Is this an exaggeration? Not quite. Ajay Devgn, since he started out with the blockbuster Phool Aur Kaante in 1991, has done many things on- and off-screen. In each field that he has entered, the son of legendary stunt coordinator Veeru Devgan has planned on a certain direction.

Speaking numerology, he seems to have taken the ‘A’ removed from his surname now to denote his permanent position as an A-lister: the 54 year-old actor was roaring on this birthday as his fourth directorial, Bholaa, bagged its highest single-day collection in India: Rs. 13.28 crore at the box-office. The total for 4 days stands at Rs. 44.28 crore. This is the film that sees him as actor, producer and director, and also the man who spearheads his brilliant VFX company, NY VFX Waala, named after his children, Nysa and Yug, which began operations in 2015.

NY VFX has handled the 3D and IMAX of the film. Not even a decade old, his company has already won over 20 awards already, including the National award for Shivaay and the Asian Film award (AFA) for Bajirao Mastani.

As an actor, Ajay has known no limits. After proving master of action (remember his unique split bike entry scene in his debut film, Phool Aur Kaante?) in multiple movies, he also went romantic, dramatic, emotional and finally, comic. His 25th film as actor, the hit Pyaar To Hona Hi Tha in 1998, marked his first film as unofficial co-producer.

For this film, the always techno-savvy star did something not widely known: He did the first-ever Computer Graphics in Indian cinema for its title-track! As he told me long ago, “I shot a part of the song with 123 layers. The machine was new and there were no operators, so I used it myself! I did a lot of similar work later and then launched my company!” For this little-known deed, Ajay also finds mention in Limca Book of World Records!

The year also proved otherwise lucky for him—his performance in Zakhm won him the first of his four National Best Actor awards, three of which were for acting, The Legend of Bhagat Singh (2002) and Tanhaji: The Unsung Warrior (2020) being the others.

In 2000, he officially turned producer with Raju Chacha, but it took him a while to get his first success in that field—All The Best in 2009. Going ahead, he also produced two Marathi movies—Viiti Dandu and Aapla Manus, the short on Mumbai floods—The Awakening, the TV serials, Devi and Swami Ramdas Ek Sangharsh and the web series, The Great Indian Murder. He has been involved over 20 times in this field, obviously without starring in each and every film. For example, Tribhanga and Helicopter Eela featured his wife Kajol and still others, like The Big Bull, did not feature anyone from his family.

His production, Tanhaji—The Unsung Warrior (2020), a roaring commercial hit, also won the National award for Best Popular Film Providing Wholesome Entertainment as co-producer and for Best Costume Design, besides for him as actor.

Having earlier entered the recording rooms for a few lines in a song in Anu Malik’s 1996 Diljale, he also sang a full-fledged number under Himesh Reshammiya along with good friends Amitabh and Abhishek Bachchan in his 2012 laugh-riot co-production, Bol Bachchan.

In 2008, Ajay bravely took on the mantle of director for U Me Aur Hum. In 2016, he ventured again into this field with Shivaay, but though the film clocked 100 crore in India, it could not recover its investment. In this film, he has been credited with designing the action as well. Last year, Ajay brilliantly directed the film, Runway 34, but shockingly, the film plummeted in the theatres. When later released on OTT, it became a hit.

Meanwhile, Ajay also had penned the story of U Me Aur Hum (2008), been the narrator in films like Yamla Pagla Deewana, edited The Awakening and, for good measure, he also operated the camera for some action sequences in Zameen (2003).

The man has won a record 32 awards, and counting, for multiple films as hero, producer and even villain, which is a shade he essayed with panache in films as varied as Deewangee, Khakee and Kaal besides so many gray roles. His tally of movies goes well above 120, and includes cameos in Marathi and other regional films. Today, he has made the character of Bajirao Singham (Singham, Singham Returns, Simmba, Sooryavanshi) iconic, as he kick-started Rohit Shetty’s Cop Universe. He is set to do Singham Again, while his other franchises are Golmaal and Drishyam.

For good measure, he has done memorable cameos in RRR and Gangubai Kathiawadi, while the web series, Rudra—The Edge of Darkness. Rudra, Shivaay and Bholaa form the triumvirate of stories wherein he has played memorable characters named after Lord Shiva, of whom he is a staunch devotee.

Ajay serves cinema like few actors have. In the forefront also for altruistic social activities during the pandemic, he has given moviegoers a unique gift—of taking on loss-making movie halls in small towns and turning them into modern theatres with excellent facilities and comforts at a reasonable admission ticket price. Like the best of our talents, therefore, he has used his stature and income to give back to the industry that has made both his legendary  father and him.

And all along, even his films have been economically judicious. After all, he is a hero of the masses. He loves movies and his fans, and they adore him in return.




Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here