Amidst the ongoing controversy of putting a ban on Pakistani actors, two major films Shivaay and Ae Dil Hai Mushkil have made their way to the theatres this Friday. The actor and also the director of ‘Shivaay’, Ajay Devgn talks about his movie, his views on the ban and the assumed competition between the two major releases of this year. Excerpts from an interview:  
Tell us something about Shivaay, what is all about?

Shivaay is about a man who is not an ordinary person he has an outlandish ability to deal with situations that are uncustomary. Shivaay is a young man with youthful spirits and believes in living his life to the fullest. He is a mountaineer who is forced to turn into a destroyer by the people who challenged him at every step of his life and proved to be a threat to him and his family. His normal life takes a different turn and that’s when his fight begins.
Ajay, by looking at the promos of Shivaay, one can say that the shoot must have been very challenging and difficult for you all, also, with a kid being around?

Yes, it was extremely challenging as the weather was not favourable at all. We shot in -30, -40 degrees, it use to snow most of the times. It was difficult for us to even utter the dialogues because it was so freezing cold. I could deal with it because it was something I was passionate about and because my team supported me wholeheartedly. We took care of all the small-small things, the kid did feel extremely cold but we had created places where many heaters were placed, we made her sit there whenever she felt cold. We did try to take maximum precautions but at times even that was not possible because of the rugged locations. We tried to protect everyone as best as we could.
Ajay, could you tell us something about the casting of this film? Why did you seek actors from outside when you have a brilliant actor at home?
*Laughs*. The actor at home doesn’t look like a foreigner and the script demanded people from the west. We select actors according to the demand of the script, someone who could satisfy the need of the script. They are all extremely talented actors and the selection has been done after evaluating several screen tests. I am extremely happy with the casting as they have worked really hard and done justice to the roles offered to them.
What is the importance of lord Shiva, after whom you have named your movie? 

Since my childhood, I feel a very strong closeness with Lord Shiva. He is one god who smokes and drinks and also has the power to destroy everything. These habits are there in an ordinary human being as well. The character’s name is Shivaay and he is in many ways similar to lord Shiva, he deals with his shortcomings, fights evil and becomes a destroyer in that process.
Now coming to the most controversial issue of the year, you have said that you support the ban on Pakistani actors. Could you tell us why you feel so ?

I think my statement has been horribly misinterpreted. I only said that I will not work with the Pakistani actors because there is a lot unrest going on at the moment and till the problem gets solved, I won’t work with them. But I never said that we should ban a film that has already been made because that was made much before this incident took place. After the trailer release, everyone says it looks good. But then the very next day, there’s a scandal that is making people talk about the film. It’s upsetting that you work so hard for two years and people choose to focus on something completely different. I try to ignore it most of the time but sometimes, it gets to me. The industry is part of society, there’s bound to be a difference of opinion. You can have differing opinions, as long as you’re supporting the film industry. My only point is since they have also banned the Indian content on their television and stood by their country we should also do the same till there is a solution to this problem.

Ae Dil Hai Mushkil has already gained a lot of publicity because of this controversy so do you take it as a threat to your movie?

No, not at all. First of all, I think each one of us in this industry believe in making films and not controversies, if we had to give rise to controversies we could have done that in a month and won’t have spent years instead. Controversies can be a created in a day too. But all of us believe in making films and working hard for it to become a success, gaining publicity through controversies is something we don’t intend to do. Now coming to the ‘threat’ bit, i think it depends entirely on the audience, they watch the movie according to their taste and no amount of publicity can divert their interest. So I don’t consider anything a threat if people like the kind of movie Shivaay is, they will watch it irrespective of the publicities.

What do you have to say about the 5 crore controversy involving Karan Johar and MNS? Do you think it’s justified?

I think this shouldn’t happen. Everything that you want to do should come from within. Nobody should pressure us or anyone to do something. You can just guide but can’t force. 
It is just like how we treat our children in today’s life. Even your own children these days don’t follow your orders blindly, you can always advise them to do something but you can never force them. Similarly, this donation of Rs 5 crore for army welfare should be done out of choice but not because of the pressure building up.

How have your co-stars from this movie reacted to the controversies that are going around for quite some time?

They have nothing to do with whatever is happening here and they just don’t care. Abigail is too small to understand anything and Erica comes here to enjoy butter chicken *laughs*.
Ankita Chakravarti

Ankita Chakravarti

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