Commenting on the growing popularity of southern films in Bollywood-ruled northern India, Ajay Devgn said on Monday that the reason for the success of non-Hindi films here was pan-Indian promotional strategy.
When asked why southern audiences haven’t gotten to grips with northern films yet, Devgn replied, “It’s nothing like that.” The 53-year-old actor-director, who recently played a pivotal role in pan-Indian blockbuster RRR, said filmmakers in the south plan their films’ scripts to reach audiences across language barriers.
“It’s not that films from here (in the north) don’t go there (in the south). In my opinion, no one has tried to release a movie from north to south on a large scale.
“If anyone tries in the future, it will definitely happen because their films are good and doing well here. Our films are also working. If they have to release the films in the north, they also take actors from the north and they are planning the script accordingly so that it works all over India,” Devgn told reporters.
The actor was speaking at the launch of the second trailer for his upcoming director Runway 34, billed as an edge-of-the-seat thriller. Rakul Preet Singh, who also stars in the film, was also present at the event.
Inspired by a true 2015 incident, the film revolves around Captain Vikrant Khanna (Devgn), an aviation prodigy, whose flight takes a mysterious course after taking off from an international destination.
Asked to choose between acting and directing, Ajay Devgn said he loved them both. The actor-filmmaker, who also produced the film through his Ajay Devgn Ffilms, said he was not afraid of hard work.
He made his directorial debut in 2008 with U Me Aur Hum and followed it up with his 2016 actor Shivaay.
“I love my job. I’m not afraid of it. You work on the script as a director, so as an actor you keep preparing. Once you work on the script, you know exactly how you want your other actors to be. It becomes very clear once you start imagining and visualizing the movie,” he said.
Devgn shared that the makers changed the title of the movie from Mayday to Runway 34 for better understanding.
“When there is an emergency, you give the Mayday call. But I think few people could understand this title. The whole story of the movie revolves around a runway called Runway 34. Why the pilot landed the plane on this runway, something that was an impossible task and shouldn’t have happened, is the history,” he said.
“A cultured person had, in fact, asked me the meaning of Mayday. He asked me if the movie was based on Labor Day, so I got a little scared,” he joked.
Devgn also responded to reports suggesting he initially shelved the film, saying that was never the case.
“I really liked the story when I heard it. I had told the screenwriters (Sandeep Kewlani and Aamil Keeyan Khan) that I wanted some changes in the script. After that, I got busy and the crown ( pandemic) happened. While we were at home during corona, I remembered that we had been working on the story.
The actor said the team attempted to make an “authentic film” and also enlisted the help of real pilots and ATC (air traffic control) personnel for training.
“We showed the aviation industry in a good light. It was not an easy film to shoot. When you watch the movie, you will learn about the problems that pilots, ATC agents and even passengers face when there is a situation like this. This story is not only about turbulence in the air, but also on the ground. That’s when there’s turbulence in someone’s life how they get through it,” he added.
Track 34 also features megastar Amitabh Bachchan. While Devgn and Bachchan have previously worked together in films like Major Saab, Hindustan Ki Kasam and Satyagraha, this is his first time directing the 79-year-old film icon.
Devgn said directing Bachchan was an inspiring experience.
“He doesn’t let anyone around him feel nervous. He is a great source of inspiration for us, his way of working. No one can have their level of hard work and dedication. When he works with you, he inspires you to achieve. I have known him since my childhood. We share good relationships. So there was no nervousness,” he added.
Rakul Preet Singh, who plays co-pilot Captain Tanya in Track 34, said working on the film was a great opportunity for more than one reason.
“I had the opportunity to work under Ajay sir and more importantly I got to play alongside Amit ji. When you become an actor, it’s your dream to work with sir Amit Through this film, I was able to share his energy and screen space with him,” she said.
The 31-year-old previously starred alongside Ajay Devgn in the 2019 romantic comedy De De Pyaar De and will also be reuniting with him for the upcoming comedy Thank God.
Singh said the cast shot the film in a simulator of a real airplane, not on set.
“We were shooting in a small cockpit with several cameras, including a jimmy jib. Creating this atmosphere of fear, panic and tension was empowering and exciting. When I had a director like Ajay sir, it was easy to get into character,” she added.
Track 34 also features Boman Irani, Angira Dhar, Aakanksha Singh and social media influencer CarryMinati.