He is often referred to as the intense and brooding actor in Tinsel Town. Ajay is proud of his demeanour, and the fact that he “doesn’t’ shout from the roof tops” when he cuts a big hit. He talks to us about his soon-to-be-released film and how it pays tribute to Lord Shiva.
How did the idea of Shivaay come to you?
It’s not an untouched subject at all. In fact, it is a very simple subject. It is about parental love — the only unconditional love that exists. It’s about the extent that a parent will go to, to protect his or her child. It’s the screenplay more than the story that got the film started.
Are you a devotee of Lord Shiva?
Of course. I’ve felt a connection with Lord Shiva since my childhood. I don’t know how it came or where it came from, but it’s like a spiritual connection. I have always been fascinated with Shiva. He is the only God with all the imperfections. He is more or less like a human. Rest of the Gods are perfect in the pictures too. Shiva on the other hand is someone who is intoxicated, loves to dance, someone that has been fooled, someone who makes mistakes and eventually becomes a destroyer too. All these facets of Shiva are in everyone. Shivaay is not a religious film. I won’t be seen praying in the film. The only way you will see this connection is by all the tattoos on the body. It’s about how one can use imperfections in the best possible way.
Why did you choose Bulgaria to shoot Shivaay?
Because I have never seen such a location. If I go up in the Himalayas in North India, I may find a better location, but there is no access. The first half in the film is supposed to be the Himalayas and second half, Eastern Europe. Whatever I could shoot in India, I did in Landour. The rest was shot in Bulgaria. I would like to draw attention towards a particular scene where Erica and I are making out in the camp, hanging from a cliff. The idea came from the Internet where I saw lot of such hanging hotel tents. It was a beautiful experience.
How did you cast Sayyeshaa and Erica for your film?
I needed a foreigner because the film demanded Abigail and Erica to be non-Indians. It is a performance-oriented film and not just an action flick. After looking around the world for a year, I found Erica and Abigail. I can assure you that Abigail, the little girl is the best actor among all of us. She will shock you.
How do you react when people call you ‘unconventional’ or not in the league of the Khans?
It really doesn’t matter. I have been working for 25 years in the industry. If you see the statistics, there have been only two years where I don’t have a hit. I am not the type who will shout from the top of the roof when I get hits. Since I don’t take the credit for the hits, people don’t blame me for the flops either. I work hard and keep quiet. I am not insecure and I go with the story. My films have beautiful songs and strong stories. I am honest to my films.
What was the reason behind your long sabbatical recently?
I was tied up with a lot of prior commitments and then the thought of Shivaay came to me. I needed a two-years gap and it took me time to take those two years after U Me Aur Hum. I didn’t want to jump into direction for namesake.
Also, Kajol has been active in marketing of the film…
I don’t understand, why people keep saying this all the time. She is the producer of the film and she is family. She heads everything. Not as an actor, but she is a part of the film.
When are you starting your next film opposite Kajol?
We are starting in January 2017. Rajan Saathi is directing the film and has directed several commercials before. He is very talented. We found a script that excited us. Surprisingly, it is not a love story; it is rather a slice-of-life kind of film. It has humour and is a female-centric film. Baadshaho too will start in the next 15 days.
What is the status of Battle of Saragarhi?
For that, I again need two more years to begin. It has a scale three times bigger than that of Shivaay. It is a period film and I want it in that zone.
Shivaay has been surrounded by a lot of controversies…
Technically, there are no controversies. It is just sad that the attention is drawn away from the content. No filmmaker wants it. I want people’s appreciation to be carried forward, I don’t want to divert their minds. I blame the industry and the press too. Given the current scenario, politics is also to be blamed. It is the society that is to be blamed. You and I are part of each other. Technically, we should stand together. And I also don’t believe that such controversies give any push to any film. What happened to Udta Punjab eventually. There was a limit to the collections, wasn’t there? It is after the first show that people decide the fate of a film.