In this interview for Cine Blitz, AJAY DEVGN tells JYOTHI VENKATESH that he enjoyed directing a film like Runway 34 for the third time as a director after directing films like U Me Aur Hum and Shivaay.
How was the experience of directing a film like Runway 34 after directing two films like You Me Aur Hum and Shivaay earlier?
Yes. This is the third time that I have directed a film. It was a great experience. The script of Runway 34 interested me a lot, the very first time that I read it as an actor. I liked the way the drama was being unfolded, though some films are difficult to make technically. However, I enjoyed creating the right drama, in fact, a lot of it, in the film
What is your role in the film?
I play the role of the pilot Vikrant Khanna in the film.
Is it true that you used 11 cameras for the shooting?
Yes. Who told you that? I used 11 cameras for the shoot in a small place like the cockpit of a plane; I wanted to show a lot of things happening. I would not tell where I placed the cameras and how (Laughs).
As a director, what exactly do you expect from all your actors when you cast them in your film as a director?
First of all, I want all my actors to read their scripts well in advance and come prepared to the sets and concentrate on the sets without getting distracted by anything externally. I want all to be as involved as I am when shooting for the film.
Do you think filmmaking has become easier nowadays with a lot of changes in technology?
When I began as a director with my debut film, there was no monitor at all, though all said and done, I’d say that filmmaking has become very easy these days though it was tough earlier.
Was it easy or tough to act in the film even while you were also directing the other actors in the film?
Frankly speaking, I am more than satisfied with the way the film has shaped up. But then you never feel satisfied when you make a film. When you are reading or working on the script you also work on grooming the actors too and if the director is also acting, it becomes easier for the director because he easily gets into the role that he is essaying.
How was the experience of working with an actor like Amitabh Bachchan for the first time?
It was indeed a wonderful experience for me. He has always been a great inspiration for all of us actors including me. I was kept literally on my toes by Big B because he used to arrive on the sets at 9 am after telling you that he will reach at 11 am every day. I have known him closely from the time I was just a kid. I know what his work ethic is. I have worked with him in almost six or seven films to date.
Big B delivers on the sets more than what you as a director expect him to deliver. You give him a scene and he delivers the dialogues and completes the scene in five minutes and continues to remain on the sets when there are actors who refuse to sit on the sets and rush to the make-up vans after delivering their shots. Jaisa aap bologe waise woh karenge no questions asked. What else can a director ask for when Big B is acting under his direction? I do not think there is any director in the country who does not wish to work with him.
Also read: “Yami deserves all the accolades coming her way for her performance in Dasvi” says director Tushar Jalota
Is it easier to direct a film or be a good father at home to kids?
Both are extremely difficult but frankly, I’d only say that it is easier to be a director on the sets but to be a good father at home and manage your kids is not all easy.
Do you still remember the first time you sat on a flight when you were younger? Have you ever been scared while sitting on a flight?
I do not at all remember which my first flight was. More than getting scared while traveling by a flight, I am more scared of going by a lift because once my lift crashed and due to claustrophobia, I had a big panic attack. I get breathless and go into a state of trauma when a lift stops midway through. Even now I prefer not to go in a lift when there are more people in it and prefer to walk the steps.
You had titled your film May Day earlier. What made you change the title to Runway 34?
I decided to change the title of my film from May Day to Runway 34 only because 80 percent of the people could not follow what May Day meant. A very highly educated South Indian I met recently asked me whether my film May Day was about Labor Day. In Maharashtra, people mistook the title for Maharashtra Day.
The film is about what happens when the wrong runway is chosen. It is about what degrees a pilot chooses to opt while steering his plane through. It is based on a flight landing in Cochin. It is not a personal story of people but about the incident.
You had directed two films earlier and Runway 34 is your third and the latest. What kind of preparation did you have to direct the film?
I have directed three different films. Luckily all belonged to different genres altogether. We created the sets but then also used some real-life equipment that was used in a flight. While traveling I have also learned what a pilot ought to do. It was very challenging for me to direct this.
Why did you agree to do cameo roles in Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Gangubai as well as Rajamouli’s RRR?
I had a great rapport with Sanjay so I did Gangubai with him. Also, with Rajamouli I had a great rapport since earlier when he made Makhi, I was asked to give my voice in his film Makhi and hence I gel well with him and hence could not say No to him when I was asked to do a cameo in his film.
However, your die-hard fans think that you have been wasted as an actor in the film RRR, though in Gangubai you had a powerful cameo role!
I do not think I was wasted in RRR or for that matter Gangubai. Whatever was narrated, the scenes were shot by Rajamouli and I have absolutely no complaints whatsoever.
Also read: Leena Chandavarkar: “When I first met Kishore Kumar, he told me he wanted to marry me, but I rejected his proposal”
Your film Runway 34 is now all set to be released in a direct clash with Sajid Nadiadwala’s film Heropanti 2. Do you feel this kind of a clash could have been averted?
Look here. Runway 34 is more of a drama whereas Heropanti 2 belongs to an altogether different genre. I think both the films can fare well even if they are released on the same day. What’s the harm?
You made your OTT debut as an actor with Rudra recently. What made you take a risk like that as a major star today?
I am not the first-ever actor to act in a web series for an OTT platform. I think all platforms matter. Every film cannot be released in a theatre. Some films are meant to be released only in theatres whereas there are web series that do well only when they are streamed on OTT
You were loved in Rohit Shetty’s multi-starrer Suryavanshi. Do you think more and more multi-star films will be made in our country?
I too enjoyed being a part of the cast of Rohit Shetty’s film Sooryavanshi and enjoyed working with stars like Akshay Kumar and Ranveer Singh. I also hope the multi-star system comes back in a big way in India too and we get to see many more multi starrer films. I too am keeping my fingers crossed.