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5 Times When Ajay Devgan Played Real-life Characters

Ajay Devgan’s historical   Tanhaji has acquired a  blockbuster  status.  It has already earned  boxoffice  revenues  of over Rs 200 crores and is racing towards  the Rs 300 crore mark.This is good news  for  historicals  and bio-pics in Bollywood. Devgan is  no stranger to playing real-life characters . Here are  the  actual people this  subdued underplayed actor brought to life.

1.     Zakhm(1998): In his first real-life  outing   Ajay Devgan was cast as  director  MaheshBhatt. The highly acclaimed film focused on Mahesh Bhatt’s  father producer  NanabhaiBhatt’s dichotomous   life with two wives. Pooja Bhatt played  Nanabhai Bhatt’s second (Muslim) wife . And   Ajay Devgan was  cast as  Nanabhai’s illegitimate  son . Devganwon  the first  of his two National awards   for his searing seething performance as  a son who is  a mute spectator to his Muslim’s mother’s victimization. Devgan  proved  playing real-life characters was his forte.

2.     Company(2002): In Ram Gopal Varma’s finest directorial  effort  ever, Devgan was  cast as a thinly veiled avatar of  Dawood Ibrahim   . The film constructed  the  kinship and enmity  between  Dawood and his  protégée Chota Rajan. Devgan’s spoke through his  lazy silences and casual glances in a  performance that was built entirely on muted menace. Chilling! Devgan proved for  the second time that he played real-life characters with a  ruthless scrupulousness.No National  award  this time .You don’t get the Government’s  approval for playing  the world’s  most wanted  fugitive.

3.     The  Legend Of Bhagat Singh(2002):  This  was  the year when  Bhagat Singh bio-pics exploded  on  the  boxoffice. Sunny Deol and Sonu Sood also  played  the  legendary freedom fighter in 2002. But it  was  Devgan who scored the highest  marks. As directed by  Raj Kumar Santoshi, the actor shone in the  role, igniting Bhagat Singh’s embers of azaadi with  a  presence  that   was smouldering . No wonder Devgan won  his second National award  for this  performance.

4.     Gangaajal(2003): Prakash Jha’s crude  raw-edged and shrill  recreation  of the 1980 Bhagalpur blindings when mobs allegedly blinded   hardened  criminals with acid. Devgan’s  role of  the  cop in-charge was modeled on  the real-life cop  from Bhagalpur. Though  the actor worked hard on his spoken and body language  the film was  excessively enamoured  of generating shock  value with little  patience for subtleties.  Incidentally the  film made history of another  kind.It featured an item  number  by Dilnawaz Sheikh who  later become Maanyata Dutt,a.k.a Mrs Sanjay Dutt.

5.     Tanhaji(2020): The  first in  a series on unsung Indian warriors planned by producer-actor Ajay Devgan Tanhaji directed Om Raut who made his directorial debut in Marathi  with  Lokmanya Ek Yug Purush, a biopic on Bal Gangadhar Tilak. Raut and Devgan now plan to make other bio-pics on  unknown  warriors from across India. They want to take this franchise forward because they feel every State has a hero.Said Devgan, “We want to tell their stories all across the country.People in Maharashtra are completely aware about Tanhaji and what he did for the country. Those in north India don’t know about him despite the fact that he fought for this country. There is a difference in education…For the next film, the warrior could be from Punjab, Rajasthan or some other state. People know about these heroes locally but we want to take their stories to every corner of the country. They all fought for the country and have sacrificed their lives in safeguarding it.”     

6.     Maidaan(2020): This forthcoming  film directed  by Amit Sharma(of Badhaai Hofame) features  Devgan as the legendary  football coach Syed Abdul Rahim. The director told me he is confident  Devgan will win his fourth National award  for this  performance. The  third  National award is expected for Tanhaji.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         

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