Ajay Devgn is in a happy place right now. His film Drishyam is a hit. His co-production Parched was recently premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival. And he is currently working on his most expensive film till date as a producer, Shivaay, which he is also directing and acting in. It’s enough to get him talking although, as he says in this exclusive interview, he does “not like to talk too much.”
by Anna M.M. Vetticad
Maxim: Congratulations on the success of Drishyam. Before the release you called it a small film. Why?
AD: Thank you. I called it small only in terms of the budgetary requirements. A family drama with strong content but no action and songs is a small film budgetwise, not contentwise.
Maxim: Is this shoot with MAXIM a good approximation of your personal style?
AD: I love the way they’ve dressed me up for this shoot. Though I do not wear such clothes very often, when you see the shoot you will ask why I do not. It is subtle, classy, and
Maxim: What is your personal style?
AD: If I attend a function where it’s not compulsory to wear a tie, I would not. (Laughs) I would wear something like jeans and a jacket. I want to be comfortable.
Maxim: Doesn’t looking casual too require a great deal of effort?
AD: It does. The bottomline is that if you stay fit, anything sober works on your body because it falls right. Even the most expensive clothes won’t suit you if you don’t have a toned, fit body.
Maxim: Has your attitude to style and styling changed over the years?
AD: I have everything in my cupboard, but you know what I wear when I go to shoot in the morning? Shorts or jeans, a T-shirt and my chappals. Because I’ve to go there, dress up for the film, pack up and come back home. (Laughs) So I don’t really care about what I wear.
Maxim: Have you not become more style-aware after you married Kajol?
AD: She’s never bothered. (Laughs)
Maxim: Is it possible to be a film star these days without being at least slightly style-conscious?
AD: You are conscious only when you are in front of the camera. That’s why you have designers and others to dress you up according to the character. Apart from that I don’t think it makes any difference. Look at the biggest superstar in the country, Rajinikanth. He moves around without hair and he doesn’t care. But when he comes onscreen he’s completely different.
Maxim: Your daughter is 12, an age at which parents have to be vigilant about the use of gadgets and the Internet because of all the information out there. How are you handling that?
AD: We’re trying our best. It’s very tough because they have access in school and at home, and there’s wi-fi everywhere. We have blocked a lot of things, we talk to her and—touch wood —she does understand what she should and should not be seeing, but the fact is that at 12, today’s kids know as much as we knew when we were 25. Talking really, really helps. And talking not at the age of 12, you need to start at the age of five or six.
Maxim: How comfortable are you with the social media?
AD: Not great. I try to do a little bit of whatever I can, but I’m not very active.
Maxim: Is that a reflection of the kind of person you are?
AD: Yeah, yeah, I do not like to share too much, I do not like to talk too much, I don’t have anything to say when I have nothing to say. (Laughs)
Maxim: Many older generation stars feel that Twitter and FB are killing stardom as we know it because they destroy the mystique once considered essential to stardom.
AD: I also somewhere believe in that. That is another reason why I maintain a distance.
Maxim: In that case, why are you making the effort at all?
AD: Some things are required for film promotions. It’s also a means through which fan clubs can stay connected to you. Earlier there were letters and fan mail, but things have changed. So if you are on social media, it makes them happy. But I’m not there to say, “Okay I just had a shower...”
Maxim: Are you tech-savvy?
AD: Where technology about films is concerned, I can beat anybody hands down. But where computers or other gadgets are concerned, I’ve never bothered.
Maxim: Why not?
AD: I have enough on my hands. So if there’s something that I don’t know how to do on my iPad, I ask my daughter, “Can you do this for me?” (Laughs)
Maxim: Do you learn more from your failures or successes?
AD: Both. And from other people’s failures and successes. Even in films for which I’ve got national awards, I don’t want to watch myself. I feel like, what shit work I’ve done, yaar, I could have done it better.
Maxim: You seem to have great clarity about your strengths and weaknesses. Where does that come from?
AD: From being honest to yourself? And from knowing why people are around you, what they want and why. If you are sensible enough to know what is not working but they’re saying it’s working, that means they’re lying to you. If you see me on film sets, I would be sitting alone, I wouldn’t have 20 people surrounding me and chatting because I don’t have time for that. From the beginning I’ve been very grounded that way. I give my father [action director Veeru Devgan] the credit for this, because when I’ve visited him I used to go on the sets and I’ve seen all this happening to other stars. I understood from my father, so I’ve never let that happen to me.
Maxim: So one of the rules of stardom for you is: no sycophants, no chamchas?
Maxim: Give me more rules of stardom from your book.
AD: (Long pause) I don’t know. I don’t even think of myself as a star. I mean, I just get up and go for work, as insecure as anybody else.
Maxim: Maybe that’s one of the rules?
AD: Yeah, maybe. Even today, after 25 years of being in films, before giving a shot I don’t know if I’ll be able to pull it off. That insecurity helps you to grow.
AD: And always be aware of what is happening in the world around you. That too will help you to grow, and to know when you’re being fooled and when you’re not.
Team Hakim’s Aalim
Location courtesy of
Courtyard by Marriott, Mumbai