Comedy requires energy, timing, and presence of mind: Ajay Devgn
The team of this week's release, Total Dhamaal, talk to us about embarking on their 'wildest adventure ever'
Indra Kumar’s Total Dhamaal arrives in theatres this Friday. It is the third instalment in the Dhamaal comedy series — preceded by Double Dhamaal (2011) and Dhamaal (2007). While retaining original cast members like Arshad Warsi, Jaaved Jaaferi and Riteish Deshmukh, the new film also introduces Ajay Devgn, Anil Kapoor, Madhuri Dixit, and Esha Gupta.
“When I heard the script, I kept laughing for two straight hours. I told Indra Kumar that if he made the film the way he narrated it to me, then I would do the project. And when I saw the final film, I laughed just as much,” says Ajay, who has co-produced the film, adding, “Comedy is challenging as a genre. It needs a lot of energy, timing, and presence of mind. Every performance has to be done in a different way. You cannot compare any two or say which was more difficult. It’s all about how you adapt to a role.”
Total Dhamaal features extensive use of CGI in keeping with its wildlife-adventure theme. Ajay’s company, NY VFXWAALA, has done the special effects for the film. “Special effects is something I practically started in this country. I have a mention in the Limca Book of Records for doing the first proper CG in India. It was for the title track of Pyaar To Hona Hi Tha. I have always been comfortable with visual effects and technicalities of the camera. That’s how the company started. Today, we have been winning all the awards — from Padmaavat to Bajirao Mastani to Shivaay,” he says.
Madhuri Dixit, last seen in the Marathi film, Bucket List, is reuniting with Ajay after a gap of 18 years in Total Dhamaal. She has been paired opposite Anil Kapoor, her co-star from yesteryear hits like Pukar, Beta and Tezhaab. “This film was a series of reunions for me. I have worked with Indu ji and Anil before, and thought it would be a great opportunity to team up with them again. There’s Ajay, I am working with him after Yeh Raaste Hain Pyaar Ke (2001). There’s Jaaved Jaaferi, who worked with me in 100 Days (1991). There’s also Johnny Lever; I have done so many films with him,” says Madhuri.
Sharing her experience of working in a slapstick comedy after a long time, she adds, “Usually, the roles that we play in a film are a mix of comedy, emotion and everything else. With Total Dhamaal, I am doing an out-and-out comedy after a gap of many years. The last film I did in the genre was Raja (1995), also directed by Indu ji. It felt almost like I finished shooting for that film and started working on this one.”
Differentiating Total Dhamaal from previous instalments in the franchise, Indra Kumar states that the film features a substantial thrill value alongside the comic elements. He says, “Comedy films are usually made in restricted spaces and depend heavily on dialogues. For the first time in our franchise, we are introducing the mixture of action and comedy. There’s a lot of stunts and action involved: someone is trapped in a fire, someone is falling off a water body, someone is stuck on a plane. It took a lot of effort to pull off these sequences. This is why we have used the tagline, ‘Wildest adventure ever’. Animals are also an important part of the film.”
Riteish Deshmukh, who plays a Bhojpuri-speaking character in the film, says, “Our writer, Ved Prakash, is from Bihar. He helped me prepare for the role. My character is a sweet guy who has a touch of arrogance to him. He carries himself with swagger, but is slightly foolish. It’s a well-written part and when you see the film, you will understand.”
The film’s choreographer, Ranju Varghese, who has staged the songs Paisa Paisa and Speaker Phat Jaaye, praises the ensemble cast. He says, “Anil sir added so much energy to the choreography. Riteish looked fantastic and danced like a rockstar. Jaaved Jaaferi and Arshad Warsi are any choreographer’s dream to work with. Pitobash Tripathy surprised me with his dancing skills. Sanjay Mishra, too, added so much humour to the choreography.”
Total Dhamaal is co-produced by Ajay Devgn FFilms, Fox Star Studios, Maruti International, Pen India Limited and Mangal Murti Films. The film’s soundtrack is composed by Gourov-Roshin, with lyrics from Kumaar and Kunwar Juneja.