Ajay Devgan to play Haji Mastan, but says won't copy him

Mumbai, Jan 28 (IANS) Ajay Devgan is determined not to copy Haji Mastan when he plays the smuggler-turned-film producer in Milan Luthria's "Once Upon A Time In Mumbai".

"The character will be inspired by Haji Mastan, but I won't be copying him. We'll take many cinematic liberties. When I played Mahesh Bhatt saab in 'Zakhm', I wasn't trying to walk and talk like him," Ajay told IANS.

Haji Mastan forayed into Bollywood with "Mere Garib Nawaz" (1973) and was also a successful distributor. Known for his friendship with the legendary actor Dilip Kumar, Mastan took to politics later. He died in 1994.

Amitabh Bachchan's character in the 1975 super hit film "Deewaar" was modelled on Haji Mastan and now it's Ajay's turn to bring him alive on screen once again.

For his role, Ajay will be consulting all the material on the notorious smuggler and also plans to meet up with the Big B to learn how the senior actor approached the complex part.

From playing Bhagat Singh to now Haji Mastan is a long journey for Ajay. "But playing Haji Mastan is very different from playing Bhagat Singh," he quipped.

"Once Upon A Time In Mumbai" will also focus on an aspect of Mastan's life that "Deewaar" didn't touch on - the smuggler's liaison with starlet Sona, who apparently bore a close resemblance to the legendary Madhubala.

In fact, Sona was given a pivotal role in Raj Khosla's "Kachche Dhaage" (1973) apparently on Haji Mastan's insistence.

But the problem is who will play Sona in the Ajay-starrer?

But the actor is nonchalant. "I've never bothered with whom I'm paired with. I only focus on my character," said Ajay.

He is very happy with the year gone by.

"I directed a film I'm proud of. People keep asking me when I'll direct another film. In 2008, I also had 'Golmaal Returns', which was among the biggest hits of the year.

"I want to do sensible cinema in 2009, but I also want my 'Golmaal'. Sensible cinema is limited in its appeal. The biggest hits the world over are entertaining escapist films and comedies. It could be a super-hero film or just a no-brainer."

Ajay has a very busy year ahead. "I've lots to do. I'm producing a couple of films, directing one. Then I'm starring in Prakash Jha's 'Rajniti' and of course 'Once Upon A Time In Mumbai'."

Ajay feels it's time for a few changes in the world of cinema in the wake of the global economic crisis.

"Not just star prices, there has to be correction in the economy and not entertainment. Everyone got carried away in all spheres of life... real-estate business, even banking and loans."

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