ACCLAIMED actor Ajay Devgn has made a name for himself in Indian cinema by tackling a wide range of roles in a marvellous mix of genres.

This week the versatile Bollywood star flexes his comedy muscles in high profile Diwali release Golmaal Again. He returns to the fun franchise for a fourth time to head another star cast, which this time includes Parineeti Chopra, Tabu, Arshad Warsi, Shreyas Talpade and Tusshar Kapoor. The actor is hoping the entertainer repeats the success of the previous three instalments and was feeling quietly confident when Eastern Eye caught up with him for a free flowing chat about Golmaal Again, comedy, inspirations and more.

You are one of the most versatile stars in Indian cinema and have enjoyed success for many years. Has the way you choose films changed?

I guess it has because earlier the kind of films we were doing were very different. When we started we were doing up to 18-20 films a year. Now we have come down to one or two films a year. With the tastes of the audiences changing you adapt yourself also. In fact your tastes also change with them.

You are known more for physically and emotionally demanding movies, how does comedy compare to that?

Comedy is just as tough as supposedly more demanding genres. It’s very difficult to make people laugh. That is why they say comedy is perhaps the most serious business. It’s a cliché, but true. Comedy has to be written very well and then it has to be performed in the right manner. If you go over the top you get screwed and the same if you underplay it. So it’s all about the timing, which is a challenge. Getting the right timing is very tough. I enjoy the challenge.

You are said to have an amazing sense of humour. Why don’t you act in more comedies than you do?

I do act in comedies, but I guess it’s just that I like to maintain a balance between the various genres. I like doing a comedy, then a drama, an action film and then perhaps return to comedy. I have always really enjoyed rotating my genres because then I don’t get bored of it myself.

Why do you think your Golmaal franchise is still going strong after all these years?

The biggest reason for a franchise to work is when the characters work really well. There are so many hit films, but you can’t make sequels and prequels out of them. With Golmaal you see not just my, but every character works really well. Not only the five main guys, but from Johnny Lever to everybody else. You know exactly what to expect of them. You know certain characters will have their quirks and moments. The characters have collectively become famous. When you put them in a new story it works.

You are the one who has been responsible for turning Golmaal Again director Rohit Shetty into a big name with the movies you have done together. How has your relationship with him changed?

(Laughs) It hasn’t changed. I have known him since he started working as an assistant and he is more like family. I enjoyed working with him again on Golmaal Again and he has done a terrific job.

How does working in a massive cast like in Golmaal Again compare to a solo film?

I think it is really a lot of fun. When you share a great rapport with all of them it is like one big picnic. You just finish your picnic and go home.

Is it difficult to do comedy without laughing in the scenes?

(Laughs) You really do need to control it because the scenes are really funny. There are some of us who can’t control it, like Shreyas.  He would just start laughing in the middle of the shot when everybody else was trying to perform. He spoils the shot and you have to do it again because he can’t contain his laughter. So he would literally get beaten up by everybody.

Who else made you laugh apart from Shreyas?

He was just laughing and wasn’t making me laugh. I can’t just choose one of them. I think everybody is very funny in the film from the supporting artists to the lead cast.

Do you have a favourite moment in the movie?

Let me think, there are so many of them that it’s difficult to choose just one. If I had to select one then it would be the interval point. You will see what I mean when you watch the movie.

What kind of comedies do you enjoy watching?

I like to watch any kind of comedy, but it should make a little sense. It shouldn’t just be slapstick and buffoonery for the sake of it. I think comedy should be written well.

Would you not classify Golmaal Again as slapstick?

Not exactly. Its only slapstick in the sense it’s on the higher side of energy. So it’s not really slapstick. For me slapstick is when you don’t have anything on the page and are trying to make faces to create comedy, but here everything is crafted and timed very well.

You have worked with the biggest leading ladies of the modern era, how does newcomer Parineeti Chopra compare to them?

She is lovely to work with and she got along very well with all of us who were returning to the franchise. It’s very tough to get into a groove that is already so comfortable. But from day one she hit it off with us and we all had fun with her.

You have maintained a high standard for over 25 years, what is the secret of that?

I really don’t know. I think the one thing that was taught by my father that has always remained with me is to be honest to yourself and your work, and that is all I do. Along with that I work hard and make a lot of effort.

You have a great work ethic, what advice would you give youngsters wanting to follow in your footsteps?

It is exactly what I was told by my father, believe in yourself and be honest to your work and yourself, and everything else will fall into place.

Indian cinema is attempting more genres than ever. What are your hopes for the industry?

I think cinema is growing very well. The kind of films, which were not being made earlier are being made now, which is a good boost for us because we can now explore different kinds of cinemas and tell more diverse stories.

You have done a lot, but what are your unfulfilled ambitions?

I really don’t have any. The plan is to just keep bettering yourself and bettering the cinema you make. For me that is it.

You might be getting older, but you are still doing your own stunts. Is it becoming more difficult?

Oh I can do all of it myself as yet (laughs). So I am happy with that.

What inspires you most today?

I don’t know, I think good work really inspires me. When you see others doing great work you kind of use that to motivate yourself further. It makes you want to raise your game even further.

What happened to the film you were doing with Kajol?

That is still very much there. I am producing it and she is the actress of the film.

What will you be doing this Diwali?

I will be spending time with my family as usual. That is the most important thing.

Finally can you give a message for your fans?

I just hope that they all see Golmaal Again and love it. Have a great Diwali.