In this special three part feature, Joginder Tuteja would be taking readers through the 20 year journey of Ajay Devgn which actually has been a pretty stable affair instead of being a roller coaster ride.
Part II explores two important facts – a) He has never been out of business and b) He is someone who has always believed in volumes.
Comeback hero? Not quite!
Anywhere in the world, whether it is Hindi film industry or Hollywood, a phrase which
is typically used for actors is – ‘He or she is making a comeback’. Fortunately for Ajay Devgn, this has never been a situation at all. As indicated by the fact study shared earlier, Ajay has never ever got into a situation where he has been so much down in dumps that he is required to make a comeback per se. He has never been out of sight. He has never touched the bottom of the barrel to find it difficult to pave his way up. He has never got into such a spot where filmmakers have shied away from working with him. He has never disappointed his fans to such an extent that he had to rebuild his standing in
This is apparent from the fact that despite no hits in 2000, 2001 and 2007, he was still working in a big way. Incidentally, he also had a minimal number of career releases ever in each of these years. While 2000 saw the release of Deewane and Raju Chacha, 2001 had him featuring in Yeh Raaste Hain Pyaar Ke, Tera Mera Saath Rahen and a cameo in Lajja while 2007 was forgettable with Cash and Ram Gopal Varma Ki Aag. On the other hand most of the other years in his career had him appearing in multiple films.
The volume factor
However, have these volumes always worked for him? Not necessarily but the fact still remains that most of the times, the success of at least one of these half a dozen releases that he has enjoyed in a single year has always kept his hit-a-year record intact. Let’s check out.
There have been four years in his two decade long career where he had more than half a dozen releases to his credit. Yes, you heard it right – half a dozen. And this is discounting the fact that most of the other years have been a witness to three or four releases at least. Let’s go year by year:
1993 – Soon after the huge success of Phool Aur Kaante, Ajay Devgn went on to sign dozens of films. Those were the days when a star value was gauged by the fact that how many films had an actor got on floors. Unlike today’s times when youngsters like Ranbir Kapoor, Imran Khan and Neil Nitin Mukesh are going slow, a race on the fast lane was the order of the day then. Be it veterans (Sanjay Dutt, Anil Kapoor) or competitors (Khans along with Akshay Kumar) – each of them was on a signing spree and Ajay wasn’t to be left behind.
Result was a huge year for Ajay where his Dil Hai Betaab, Divya Shakti, Platform, Sangram, Shaktimaan, Ek Hi Raasta, Bedardi and Dhanwan arrived in quick succession. The only film that worked in a major way? Divyashakti, with none of the others either failing to take off at all or not quite coming close to the kind of success that Ajay would have hoped for after the hat trick of Phool Aur Kaante, Jigar and Divyashakti.
1999 – There was some respite in the interim years but yet again in 1999, Ajay had a remarkable 7 releases to his name. This was perhaps due to the fact that he was turning producer with Raju Chacha (2000) and wanted to clear his entire backlog before he ventured into his ambitious venture with single minded dedication. Whatever be the reason but the fact remains that 1999 was indeed an eventful year for Ajay. He had as many as four successful films to his name – Kachche Dhaage, Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam, Hindustan Ki Kasam and Hogi Pyaar Ki Jeet, a critic friendly performance in
Thakshak (more about this later) and only two disappointments (Dil Kya Kare, Gair).
2003 – After a lull in 2000 and 2001 (as mentioned earlier), Ajay was back to signing multiple films. Result was a packed 2003 with 7 releases – Bhoot, Qayamat, Chori Chori, Gangaajal, Parwana, Zameen and LOC – Kargil. No wonder, he went on to strike good yet again with Qayamat turning out to be one of his biggest money spinners ever, Bhoot finding him acclaim despite Urmila Matondkar being the focal point of this Ram Gopal Varma directed horror thriller, Gangaajal ensuring that his presence makes a serious film do commercially well as well and Zameen taking a huge opening and marking the start of a remarkable professional relationship with new find Rohit Shetty (more about this later).
2005 – Ajay wasn’t willing to rest though. In 2004 too he had five releases though 2008 broke all barriers for a mainstream Bollywood leading man. Believe it or not but Ajay was seen in eight films this year, most of which turned out to be absolute non-starters. Insaan, Blackmail, Zameer, Tango Charlie, Main Aisa Hi Hoon and Shikhar – None of them made any impact at the box office and only pulled down Ajay a couple of notches. Thankfully, he had an out and out masala film like Kaal taking a huge opening due to its good music though it did get a beating a while later. The only film which really saw some redemption coming Ajay’s way? Prakash Jha Apaharan, which didn’t just manage decent collections at the box office but also fetched him some good critical acclaim.
(Visit this space again for Part III of this feature where readers would be taken through Ajay’s journey where he has reinvented himself time and again. Also he has balanced
hardcore commercially cinema quite well with meaningful two important facts, something that has kept masses, classes as well as critics happy)