New Delhi, Jan 27 (IANS) Amitabh Bachchan once called Ajay Devgan the 'Dark Horse' of the film industry. But he is also proving to be a winning tortoise with his slow and steady growth.
He is on the roll. After a forgettable 2007, he has started off this year with a bang.
The intense actor, who is known for breaking the rules now and then, first charmed critics with his power-packed performance in Rajkumar Santoshi's 'Halla Bol' and is now trying to tickle the funny bone in Rohit Shetty's 'Sunday' that released this week.
His roles in both films are in complete contrast to each other. While in 'Halla Bol' he is an actor-turned-activist, in fun-filled action thriller 'Sunday' he is a corrupt cop.
Very soon the actor will turn director with his directorial debut film 'U Me Aur Hum', schedule to release in April.
Once tipped as the successor for angry-young-man roles immortalised by Amitabh Bachchan, Ajay has always made a conscious effort to not get typecast. He started off as an action hero with 'Phool Aur Kaante', but is now regarded as a character actor.
He is one actor who is just as convincing in brooding, macho roles as he is in comic capers. He is among the only few stars who have challenged the hoodoo over the plain looking and not-so-fair actors becoming successful.
He has the unique distinction of having bagged two `best actor' National Awards. And the low-key actor, who shuns publicity, is the first choice of veteran Indian directors like Rajkumar Santoshi as well as Ram Gopal Varma.
Son of famous fight director, Veeru Devgan, he dabbled in direction and editing in a junior capacity before being lured before the camera for Kuku Kohli's action flick 'Phool Aur Kaante,' which was a box office hit. 'Jigar', 'Vijaypath' and 'Divya Shakti' were all action films, which had their own audiences.
Then came a lean period when Ajay was displaced by the fair-skinned aristocracy.
Observes director Mahesh Bhatt: 'His very place among the top stars was questioned because he was the son of a stunt director and was supposed to be good only in stunt roles. Ajay was patient and proved them wrong.'
'Ishq' came as a turning point and he was for the very first time accepted in non-action hero role. Then came 'Pyaar To Hona Hi Tha', and the big hit, 'Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam' where his portrayal of the low-key, understanding husband was acclaimed.
His work in films like 'Zakhm', 'Company', 'GangaaJal', 'The Legend of Bhagat Singh' and 'Omkara' have left no doubt that Ajay is indeed the 'dark horse' of the industry. With a little bit of luck he could go Akshaye Kumar's way.
Santoshi, who has done some of his best films with Ajya, is keen on making a film based on emperor Ashoka and then cast him in a mythological film based on epic 'Ramayan'.
'I am sure people will be astounded how he will interpret the two compellingly fascinating characters. Ajay is one of the few leading men in the industry today who will some day become a very valued character actor,' says Santoshi.
'One of Ajay's strengths is that he can get under the skin of any well-written role and make it his own. He has sharp, expressive eyes. And he appears to be very natural in all the challenging characters he has played so far,' he adds.
The actor was also among the first few actors to take to production of films. He turned producer in 1990s with :Hindustan Ki Kasam' and 'Raju Chacha'. Though the films bombed at the box-office, Ajay is now keen to go behind the cameras again in 'U, Me Aur Hum'.
'One has to be more careful with the script, I guess,' he said. 'We have to target our films to specific audiences'.
'Sunday' starring Ajay Devgan, Ayesha Takia, Irrfan Khan and Arshad Warsi and directed by Rohit Shetty didn't rack in favourable reviews, but has got good initials.
The film with catchy music and great promos does not have much competition as the next big release, Ashutosh Gowariker's 'Jodhaa Akbar', is slated for mid February. The publicists should be able to make the best of the given situation and help the film make a killing at the box-office.