Ajay Devgan on rustling up the perfect biryani, turning director and being his daughter's favourite actor.
You've been out of circulation for ages, what's been keeping you so busy?
I was busy directing my film, U, Me Aur Hum. My cell phone was off all this while since I didn't want any distractions. Now that the shooting is over, you'll again see me doing ads and films. Right now I'm shooting for Sunday and it's good fun.
But your cell is constantly off, can an actor afford to do this in such competitive times?
Why not? It's my choice. That's the way I've always been.
But you agree that you're the least written about actor in B-Town?
What can I say to that? I've always been like this. I'm very lazy. I don't like giving interviews. It takes me months to prepare myself mentally for one interview. I can't just sit and talk about anything under the sun. I only talk when I've something to say about a film I truly, genuinely believe is good.
How do you explain the debacle of Ram Gopal Varma Ki Aag?
First of all let me say that all of us went wrong with Aag. It's not fair to saddle Ramu with all the blame. The intention of making the film was not wrong but sometimes things are not in your control. I still maintain that the decision to make Aag was right. I stand by the film.
Do you also stand by Cash?
Cash is another matter all together. It was an incomplete film. I regret doing this film. I made a mistake by agreeing to be a part of the set up. There was no passion in making the film. Film-making is all about ease but there was none on the sets of Cash. The makers just wanted to release the film. The people who bought the film should sue them since the film was incomplete, it didn't even have a climax. The producer (Sohail Maklai) was also thrown out of the film. I wonder how that can happen. Cash has been a bitter experience.
Do you feel like taking responsibility for bad films especially since your loyal audience base sees a film only because it stars you?
Exactly. That's why I regret doing Cash. I assure my audience that from now on I'll be more careful with my film choices. I mean, after Golmaal and Omkara, this is the last thing I needed.
Does winning two national awards put extra pressure while selecting a film?
It makes you more responsible, which is why you regret doing a film like Cash.
So tell me why did you decide to become a director?
I always wanted to direct. In fact I became an actor by default. I started as an assistant to Shekhar Kapur and also learnt editing. For U, Me Aur Hum, I came up with the idea, wrote the basic storyline and then got other writers to collaborate on it. I took a spontaneous decision to direct the film. But then that's me. If I decide something in the night then by morning I do it.
One would have imagined that you'll make an action film but you are making a romantic film. Isn't that strange?
(Shy smile) Well, I've tried to put in the film whatever I feel deep inside. I hope I've been able to convey what I wanted to. I've not made a great film but I've tried to make an honest film. I think more or less I've succeeded in saying what I needed to say in a commercial format. U, Me Aur Hum is not a senseless film. The film involves a lot of fine print. I hope the audience can read between the lines and see the moments within a moment. If not that then I hope they get entertained.
Are you nervous?
Not at all. I'm always confident about what I do, whether it works or not is not in my hands. In my mind, I've managed to achieve what I set out to achieve with U, Me Aur Hum.
But are you a romantic person?
I really don't know.
Arre then who will know?
Well, I think every person has some romance in him/her. Romance is not only with another person. It can be with a car, with work, with a cigarette. You know what I'm trying to say.
Hmm. Does your daughter, Nysa know that you're an actor?
Oh yes, she knows it. She watches my films. Even though I don't want her to watch films but one can't avoid television these days. She knows every actor and is extremely aware for her age. You know the other day, I was driving and she saw a banner ad of Sachin Tendulkar. Suddenly she said, "That's Sachin." I asked her if she knew who he was and she replied, "Yes, I know him. He sells biscuits." (Laughs) So you see my daughter is pretty clever.
So who is her favourite actor?
Well if you ask her then she'll say her father is her favourite.
What was it like directing your wife, Kajol?
It was very normal. We were not conscious of the fact that we're married. We worked well.
Kajol recently said that you're an amazing cook. What do you like to cook?
(Smiles) Cooking relaxes me. I can make anything from Chinese to Mughlai dishes. I can even make biryani. I picked it up from my dad. He is a great cook.
What's your next release, Halla Bol all about?
It's a film where the main protagonist is a star. It's about his mind and personality in the cutthroat world of films. I just saw the film recently and I think Raj Kumar Santoshi has made a brilliant film. There is a lot of satisfaction I get after doing a film like this. It's something to be proud of.
Is it true you'll be acting in historicals like Ramayana and Ashoka, the great?
Raj Kumar Santoshi is planning things. Ashoka is a fantastic script. Let me make it very clear that there is no comparison with what was made earlier (SRK's Asoka). Our film starts after the Kalinga war when Ashoka, the emperor decides to embrace Buddhism and becomes Ashoka, the great. It's his journey towards greatness.
Your good friend Aamir Khan has also turned director with Taare Zameen Par. Did you guys share notes or something?
Actually we haven't even spoken about this. But it's a good coincidence that you made me aware of.
Any plans of turning a full-fledged director?
I really can't say. Direction is all about inspiration. If I get inspired by another idea, I'll do it otherwise I'm very happy acting in films with other capable directors.