• Saturday, May 25, 2024

Arts and Culture

Ajay Devgn: A real blockbuster

Dive into the versatile actor’s career, ahead of his birthday and new film Bholaa

 

ALL IN ONE: Ajay Devgn (Photo by SUJIT JAISWAL/AFP via Getty Images)

By: ASJAD NAZIR

IT will be double delight for Ajay Devgn this week with his latest movie Bholaa in cinemas on Thursday (30), followed by him turning celebrating his 54th birthday on Sunday (2).

Bholaa is an action thriller, which is a remake of 2019 Tamil film Kaithi and sees him play a prisoner returning home after a decade long sentence, caught up in a deadly situation. It adds to an impressive journey that started with his debut movie Phool Aur Kaante in 1991. Eastern Eye decided to mark the movie and his birthday, by taking a deep dive into Ajay Devgn’s career, with an all you need to know A to Z. 

A is Action: The actor was born Vishal Veeru Devgan April 2, 1969, to legendary Bollywood action director Veeru Devgan, and his film producer mother Veena. He grew up watching his father working as an action and stunt choreographer on major movies. He was launched as an action hero (see D) and has spent most of his career doing many of his own stunts.

B is for Body of work: Devgn has an impressive body of work from his 32-year career, which has shown off his immense range as a performer, with everything from comedy to action and intense drama. Some of his finest work includes, Naajayaz, Zakhm, Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam, Company, The Legend Of Bhagat Singh, Omkara, Raajneeti, Once Upon A Time In Mumbaai, Singham and Drishyam.

Company

C is Cop Universe: The actor starred as a fearless police officer in smash-hit 2011 film Singham, which spawned successful sequel Singham Returns and gave rise to a cop universe. This has had spin-off movies Simmba and Sooryavanshi, which saw him make cameos, and forthcoming web series Indian Police Force. He also returns as the title character in forthcoming movie Singham Again.

Singham

D is for Debut: Devgn made a winning acting debut with action romance Phool Aur Kaante in 1991. He received a Filmfare Award for Best Male Debut in a sleeper hit that took everyone by surprise, with superb songs and a standout performance from the then talented newcomer. It also introduced his signature entry scene (see E). 

E is for Entry: The actor balanced on two moving motorbikes for his entry scene in Phool Aur Kaante. He would repeat that same split stunt on motorbikes, cars and even horses, in subsequent movies. When Chris Hemsworth did something similar in Thor: Love and Thunder, Hindi film fans were quick to point out that Devgn did it first.

F is for filmmaking: The actor has produced and directed multiple movies with mixed results. Films he has produced and directed are U Me Aur Hum, Shivaay, Runway 34 and his latest release Bholaa.

G is for Gangster: Although, he has mostly played a hero, the actor has excelled in villainous and grey shaded characters. These includes gangsters based on real underworld figures in hit movies Company, Once Upon A Time In Mumbaai and Gangubai Kathiawadi.

Once Upon A Time In Mumbaai

H is for Highest: Although the Covid-19 played a big part, with major movies being postponed, he scored his first highest grossing Bollywood movie of the year with hit action-historical Tanhaji: The Unsung Warrior in 2020.

Tanhaji: The Unsung Warrior

I is for India: The actor has acted in a number of patriotic films and was awarded a Padma Shri in 2016, which is India’s fourth highest civilian honour for his contributions towards to cinema. In addition to that he has three National Film Awards, including two for Best Actor. 

J is for Jokes: Devgn has starred in comedy movies across his career including 1990s classic Ishq, but the most successful have been his Golmaal movies. His 2006 comedy Golmaal: Fun Unlimited has spawned one of the most successful film franchises in Hindi cinema, with sequels Golmaal Returns, Golmaal 3 and Golmaal Again, with him headlining each one. 

K is for Kajol: Devgn started dating his co-star Kajol in the mid-nineties whilst shooting for the film Gundaraj. The couple married On February 24, 1999, in a traditional Maharashtrian Hindu ceremony. They have worked together in multiple movies and remain a power couple in Hindi cinema. 

Ajay Devgn and Kajol

L is for Luther: The versatile actor made his web series debut in 2022 with six-part Hotstar psychological crime thriller Rudra: The Edge of Darkness. The critically acclaimed Hindi language adaptation of British series Luther, saw him play the title role of a jaded detective hunting down vicious criminals. 

M is for Marathi: In 2018, the actor released his first Marathi film as a producer. The big screen adaptation of Marathi play Katkon Trikon, starring Nana Patekar, was a critical and commercial success.

N is for Name: The popular star changed his first name from Vishal to Ajay when he entered Bollywood. Then in August 2009, he changed his surname from Devgan to Devgn and it has remained that ever since then.

O is for Omkara: One of the versatile performer’s most critically acclaimed movies was Omkara, which was a clever Bollywood adaptation of William Shakespeare’s classic play Othello. He portrayed the powerful title role in what has become a cult classic.

Omkara

P is for Partnership: Perhaps the most prolific and successful partnership of the actor’s career has been with Rohit Shetty. He has starred in nearly all of the director’s movies, with their biggest successes being the Golmaal and cop universe franchises respectively. Shetty had directed his first eight films with Devgn in the lead role.

Ajay Devgn with Rohit Shetty

Q is for Quotes: He doesn’t do as many interviews as other stars and once admitted to not being media savvy, but Devgn does have a page dedicated to him on Brainy Quote, with memorable lines from him including, “I’m going to keep making films I believe in. Whether I am successful or not is beside the point.”

R is for Remakes: Devgn has perhaps acted in more remakes than any other frontline film star. His unofficial remakes of successful Hollywood films have included Pyaar To Hona Hi Tha (French Kiss), Deewangee (Primal Fear), Qayamat: City Under Threat (The Rock) and Main Aisa Hi Hoon (I Am Sam). He has found bigger success starring in remakes of South Indian films, most notably his hit Hindi adaptations of the two Drishyam movies. His other remakes of South Indian films have included Sunday (Anukokunda Oka Roju), Singham (Singam), Golmaal: Fun Unlimited (Kakkakuyil), Himmatwala (Ooriki Monagad), Son of Sardaar (Maryada Ramanna) and Action Jackson (Dookudu).

Drishyam

S is for Special effects: In 2015, the actor established visual effects company NY VFXWAALA. The company has worked on major movies that include Prem Ratan Dhan Payo, Bajirao Mastani, Dilwale, and Simmba. His company won the Best Special Effects award at the 64th National Film Awards for his own film Shivaay. 

T is for Television: The actor first ventured into producing for television with Sony Entertainment Television drama series Devi in 2002. He also produced biopic series Swami Ramdev – Ek Sangharsh in 2018. He also narrated five-episode mythological on-stage musical drama Ramleela – Ajay Devgn Ke Saath, which aired on television. 

U is for upcoming films: The in-demand star’s forthcoming films include Maidaan, Singham Again and Naam. 

V is for Voice: The actor has used his unmistakable voice to for the Hindi dubbed version of Telugu language films Eega and Dhruva. He would team up with up Eega director SS Rajamouli with a cameo in his 2022 blockbuster hit RRR, which coincidentally starred Ram Charan, who he had dubbed for in Dhruva. His voice was also used as the narrator in the Hindi dubbed version of Tamil historical epic Ponniyin Selvan: I. 

W is for Wealth: With the many movies he signs, home productions, huge number of lucrative endorsement deals, property portfolio and various business interests, Devgn is one of the wealthiest film stars in India. 

X is for X Factor: Qualities that have set Devgn apart from his contemporaries is his versatility. He has perhaps been the only frontline Bollywood star of his generation able to effortlessly move between intense drama, heroic roles, villains, grey shaded characters, slapstick comedy, action and more. 

Y is for Youngster: Devgn always wanted to be an actor since he was very young, but contrary to numerous internet rumours and media reports, he is not child actor Master Chhotu, who was known for eighties films like Disco Dancer and Pyari Behna.

Zakhm

Z is for Zakhm: One of Devgn’s career best performances came in critically drama Zakhm, which earned him his first National Award for Best Actor. The deeply emotional story based on actual events saw him play a Hindu man fighting to give his Muslim mother a burial, in the light of inter-religious riots and showed off there was more to him than being a commercial Hindi hero. He would win a prestigious first National Award for Best Actor four years later with The Legend Of Bhagat Singh (2002). 

Bholaa is in cinemas now

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