Ajay Devgn is back in the director’s chair after six years. His last directorial, Shivaay (2016), perhaps made as much noise for controversies as it did for content. With Runway 34, the actor is multitasking once again as he plays a pilot who is being investigated. He directs Amitabh Bachchan and Rakul Preet Singh in the thriller.
Ajay credits the script for pulling him back in direction. “While working on the script (of Runway 34) I got so involved that I thought I should take it (as a director). Second reason was that I like to do films that are challenging, the story of this film was very strong. In Shivaay also, the kind of action and camera moving on the mountains, it was something that was never tried before. Here also, the drama that was needed to be created in the cockpit, it was not a very easy job to do, you can’t do it in a regular way, so I had to create a lot of things technically also to create drama,” Ajay explains.
When asked who takes a backseat on set, the actor in him or the director, Ajay said, “An actor has to take a backseat on set for me, as the director is directing the actor. But when you come in front of the camera, everything needs to be done as an actor. It is a lot of hard work.”
This is the first time Ajay is directing Amitabh Bachchan in a film. On the experience of directing a legendary actor, Ajay said, “It is like a dream come true. The kind of performance, the kind of dedication he can give… He is a director’s actor. He is a legend.” In the interaction, Ajay was also asked how the actors often face criticism for the products they choose to endorse. Akshay Kumar recently faced heat for endorsing a pan masala brand; Ajay and Shah Rukh Khan also promote the same brand. While the trio appear in elaichi ads, they fall under ‘surrogate advertising’. It is a form of advertising in which banned products, such as cigarettes and tobacco, are promoted in the disguise of another product.
“It is a personal choice,” Ajay said, adding, “When you do something, you also see how harmful it would be. Somethings are harmful, some are not. I would say it without naming it because I don’t want to promote it; I was doing elaichi. What I feel is more than advertisements, if certain things are so wrong, then they should not be sold.”
Runway 34, also starring Amitabh Bachchan and Rakul Preet Singh is scheduled to release in theatres on April 29.