Ahead of his film’s release, Ajay Devgan spoke to Kritika Dua about fictionalising true events and complexities of getting into the headspace of larger than life characters
Ajay Devgan terms his character in Raid as “heroic”. “If people watch the film and observe what Amay Patnaik does, they will get to know that he is ready to sacrifice his life for his family. The kind of honesty, dedication and patriotism the character shows should inspire anyone who watches the film.”
Raid is a crime drama based on a real-life story that chronicles one of the most high-profile and longest running IT raids conducted by Income Tax Officer Amay Patnaik in Lucknow in the 1980’s. Ajay can be seen fighting the menace in the UP style and accent. Ileana D’Cruz will be seen getting into the shoes of Nita Patnaik, Ajay’s wife in the film, who is always by his side, even in difficult times. The film is directed by Raj Kumar Gupta, who has earlier helmed projects like Aamir and No One Killed Jessica.
When asked if more films should be made which bring to the forefront honest Income Tax officers trying to wipe out corruption in the current scenario, he replied, “I don’t think so, there needs to be a good script and if something interesting comes to an actor then they tend to go ahead with the film. We come across thoughts and hear ideas, then we choose to make certain films and don’t decide the topics beforehand which we wish to bring to the audience’s attention.” He said that he is willing to experiment more if he listens to an extraordinary script.
Even though Raid is based on a true story, some incidents have been fictionalised for cinematic effect. Delving into it, Ajay noted, “Fiction is used only to enhance the real content at least in this film as when one is making a film which is based on a true event, one can’t wrong it. We can’t make it really simple also, even adding background music is also fictionalising it. But, the nitty-gritty of the content has not been altered.” He is not of the opinion that corruption will ever end. “Filmmaking is not about sending out messages, it is about entertaining people in one way or the other. If one can send out a message through a film then it’s good but it doesn’t mean that everyone will focus on that message or will follow it.”
Of late, Ajay has been seen doing films such as Shivaay, where he is seen as a one man army taking on the world. Talking about the complexities of getting into the headspace of such characters, Ajay emphasised, “When I am convinced that I can do justice to this role, only then I pick it up. If I feel that I don’t suit this role and can’t see myself in it then I decline the offer and tell them that they should cast someone else. It’s crucial for me to be happy and also convinced to play a certain part.” He is developing an idea on which he would be directing a film soon but remained tightlipped, saying it’s too early to talk about it.
When asked about persisting with Sons of Sardar: Battle of Saragarhi even when others are doing it, case in point being Kesari, he was quick to respond, “I did not persist, In fact I announced it first and now I will decide if I want to make it or not.”
There are certain challenges that come along with doing a biopic or even films based on historical facts as it comes with a lot of responsibility. “I agree and one has to see to it that they don’t present the facts in an incorrect manner which is a key responsibility of the makers. For this, one really needs to work extra hard and it’s very difficult to make a screenplay out of a biopic as one also has keep the entertainment factor in mind, being able to hold onto their attention throughout the course of the film. That’s why the makers tend to fictionalise it a little but one has to be careful about presenting the truth. There’s a path one shouldn’t break away from.”
Ajay is known to maintain a balance between commercial cinema and content-driven cinema. He flows seamlessly from an out and out entertainer like Golmaal Again to a gripping thriller Drishyam. He doesn’t see much difference in both. “I think the lines are gradually blurring. Commercial cinema has also become all about content, that can be a put in a box of different kind of entertainment. It’s not easy to make people laugh and is as difficult as doing Raid. Perseverance is a pre-requisite in both so I don’t view them differently. Commercial and content-driven cinema doesn’t require different kind of acting, it solely depends upon the character. There can be a subtle comedy where the acting is not loud though it falls in the commercial space. Acting is required according to the character and not the genre.” He had earlier said that it was difficult to stay relevant in the film industry. “What I meant was, the audience’s taste is evolving, so the actors also need to evolve and upgrade themselves in order to stay relevant.” Actors these days are seen pushing the envelope for roles, transforming themselves both physically and mentally. “I am ready to push myself as much as I can do according to my capabilities. Something which I feel that I can’t do, I won’t nod to.”
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