Superstar Ajay Devgn completed 30 years in the Hindi film industry on Monday and attributed his long innings in the world of cinema to his "insatiable hunger" for movies and the stubbornness to keep evolving with times.
The 52-year-old actor said to survive three decades, one needs hard work, grit, good luck, blessings and above all, tenacity.
It's often said -- it's the survival of the fittest. Yes, you have to be mentally and physically sound and fit, to last 30 years and not seek a break, the actor, who is also a director and producer, told PTI in an interview.
"I'm warming up and intend to go for another 30-40 years," he promised.
Devgn entered the Hindi film industry with Phool Aur Kaante, which released on November 22, 1991.
The Kuku Kohli-directed romantic-action movie did well commercially and is remembered more so for Devgn's introduction in the film, a 180-degree split while balancing on two moving motorcycles. The stunt was designed by his late father and veteran action choreographer Veeru Devgan.
As an actor, some of his most notable films include Jigar, Vijaypath, Diljale, Pyaar Toh Hona Hi Tha, Zakhm, Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam, Omkara, Golmaal, Singham series, Raid, Tanhaji: The Unsung Warrior, among others.
Passion for cinema keeps him "ticking every single minute", he said.
I can't tell what it is about the movies that make my world go round. Every aspect of cinema is delightful, enjoyable and to be cherished. From emotion to technology, cinema is constantly evolving and my hunger for this is insatiable, he added.
Asked to pick some of his career-defining roles, the actor said it is a tad tough to choose from his 100 films but he is immensely proud of Phool Aur Kaante and Tanhaji: The Unsung Warrior.
I'm proud of Phool Aur Kaante' that gave me birth and Tanhaji: The Unsung Warrior' which marked my century. The period in between had some milestones and mistakes. However, I don't believe in dwelling on past glory. One must look ahead.
Devgn turned director with 2008's U Me Aur Hum, which dealt with Alzheimer's disease. He also starred in the romance drama opposite his wife, actor Kajol. His 2016 directorial venture Shivaay, a father-daughter story at its core, showcased high-octane action sequences.
He is returning to the director's chair with the tentatively titled Mayday, billed as an "edge-of-the-seat" drama.
Mayday features Devgn as a pilot and Rakul Preet Singh as his co-pilot. Megastar Amitabh Bachchan and "Love Per Square Foot" actor Angira Dhar also round out the cast of the film.
Devgn said as a director the attempt is to make more "meaningful" movies than "popcorn" entertainers.
I don't go out of my way to choose something just to make a statement. More often subjects have come to me at various stages and at that point, I have felt motivated to make that film. I'm not keen to be associated only with popcorn stuff. Frankly, I don't have anything against popcorn cinema.
However, if I have to choose a subject to direct, I would wish for it to be more meaningful and deep. Perhaps, someday I will make a light film too. Like I said, it's a decision made at that moment in life.
The actor is also set to foray into the digital space with the Disney+ Hotstar crime-drama series Rudra-The Edge of Darkness , a remake of the Idris Elba-starrer British series Luther .
Devgn said he loved Luther and enjoyed it long before he was offered the desi remake.
"Idris Elba plays a cop-on-the-edge with multiple shades and as a viewer, he had my attention throughout. When I was offered Rudra ', I felt it was a good beginning for me as an actor on a streaming platform. Besides the nuanced cop character, the element of mystery and thrill made it worth my while.
Devgn has a slew of movies like SS Rajamouli's Telugu action-drama RRR , Sanjay Leela Bhansali-helmed Gangubai Kathiawadi , Maidaan , a sports drama, the Kaithi remake, historical drama Chanakya , light-hearted entertainers like Thank God and Golmaal 5 and Singham 3 coming up.
We actors are fortunate and blessed to go out there and do something we love each day of our lives," he said, adding that "Maidaan" was one of those sport-based drama films with a terrific emotional anchor that will stay relevant forever.
He has cameos in RRR and Gangubai Kathiawadi .
When you have masters like Rajamouli Sir and Sanjay, you don't question the length of a role. You do it because of the sheer pleasure of being on set with them and sharing their vision.
Kaithi , for which the Hindi title is yet to be finalised, should go on floors early next year and Singham 3 is expected to start rolling around October, he shared.
There are no set timelines for "Raid 2", "Chanakya" and "Golmaal 5", the actor said, adding that the pandemic made the industry "lose a couple of years".
"So, until the backlog clears, I cannot see that far into the future, he said.
Devgn's three decades in cinema also led to congratulatory messages from friends, senior colleagues and collaborators like Amitabh Bachchan and Akshay Kumar.
In a tweet, Bachchan described Devgn as "soft-spoken, non-interfering, yet filled with passion".
"My congratulations Ajay, may you continue for another 70, the megastar wrote on Twitter.
T 4103 - #AjayDevgn , completes 30 years in the Film Industry , on 22nd Nov , when his film 'Phool aur Kante' released. Soft spoken, non interfering, yet filled with passion. My congratulations Ajay, may you continue for another 70. ❤️❤️🌹🌹— Amitabh Bachchan (@SrBachchan) November 21, 2021
Kumar, Devgn's "Sooryavanshi" co-star, shared a photo from the film to look back at their years together.
Mujhe yaad hai when as newbies, main aur tu saath saath Juhu beach pe martial arts practice karte the when your dad used to train us (I still remember how as newbies we would practice martial arts on Juhu beach when your dad used to train us).
Kya din the yaar (Those were the days)...Time flies, friendship stays!
Mujhe yaad hai when as newbies, main aur tu saath saath Juhu beach pe martial arts practice karte the when your dad used to train us. Kya din the yaar @ajaydevgn, and just like that it’s been 30 years to #PhoolAurKaante. Time flies, friendship stays! pic.twitter.com/adlLfMM6Gs— Akshay Kumar (@akshaykumar) November 22, 2021
The Director of his upcoming movie RRR, SS Rajamouli also congratulated him on achieving the milestone.
"Congratulations @ajaydevgn sir for completing 30 years in the film industry. Your dedication and passion towards cinema are unmatchable. Wishing you many more successes in the years to come..:)", he tweeted.
Congratulations @ajaydevgn sir for completing 30 years in the film industry. Your dedication and passion towards cinema are unmatchable. Wishing you many more successes in the years to come..:)— rajamouli ss (@ssrajamouli) November 22, 2021
It was a pleasure to be associated with you for #Makkhi and to have you in #RRRMovie. pic.twitter.com/G34H8wf3Uy
(With Inputs From Nitesh Kumar)