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Bollywood filmmakers haven’t attempted to release pan India films: Ajay Devgn on south vs north cinema

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Commenting on the rising popularity of south films in the Bollywood-ruled north India, superstar Ajay Devgn on Monday said the reason behind the success of the non-Hindi movies here is the pan India promotional strategy.

When asked that southern audiences are yet to warm up to the films from the north, Devgn said, “It’s nothing like that.”

The 53-year-old actor-director, who recently featured in a pivotal role in the pan India blockbuster “RRR”, said filmmakers from the south plan the script of their films to reach out to audiences beyond language barriers.

“It’s not that films from here (north) are not going there (to the south). In my opinion, nobody has attempted to release a film from the north down south on a big scale.

“If someone will try in future, it will definitely happen because their films are good and are doing well here. Our films too are working. If they have to release the films in the north, they take actors from the north also and they plan the script accordingly so that it works pan India,” Devgn told reporters here.

He was speaking at the second trailer launch of his upcoming directorial “Runway 34”, billed as an edge-of-the-seat thriller. Rakul Preet Singh, who also stars in the film, was present at the event as well.

Inspired by a true incident from 2015, the movie revolves around Captain Vikrant Khanna (Devgn), a flying prodigy, whose flight takes a mysterious course after take-off from an international destination.

Asked to choose between acting and direction, Devgn said he loves them both. The actor-filmmaker, who has also produced the movie via his Ajay Devgn Ffilms, said he is not scared of hard work.

He made his directorial debut in 2008 with “U Me Aur Hum” and followed it up with his 2016 actioner “Shivaay”.

“I love my work, I’m not afraid of it… You’re working on the script as a director, so as an actor you keep getting prepared. Once you’re working on the script, you know exactly the way you want your other actors to be. It gets very clear once you start imagining and visualising the film,” he said.

Devgn shared that the makers changed the title of the film from “Mayday” to “Runway 34” for better understanding.

“When there’s an emergency, you give the call of ‘Mayday’. But, I think, not many people were able to understand that title. The whole story of the film revolves around a runway called Runway 34. Why the pilot landed the plane on that runway, something which was an impossible task and should not have happened, that is the story,” he said.

“A well-read person had, in fact, asked me the meaning of ‘Mayday’. He asked me if the film was based on Labour Day, so I got a bit scared,” he quipped.

He also responded to the reports that suggested that Devgn had initially shelved the film, saying that was never the case.

“I really liked the story when I heard it. I had told the writers (Sandeep Kewlani and Aamil Keeyan Khan) that I want some changes in the script. After that I got busy and corona (pandemic) happened. While we were at home during corona, I remembered that we’d worked on the story…”

The actor said the team has attempted to make an “authentic film” and also sought help from real pilots and ATC (air traffic control) personnel for training.

“We have brought the aviation industry in a good light. It was not an easy film to shoot. When you watch the film, you’ll come to know what troubles pilots, ATC people and even the passengers face when there’s a situation like that. This story is not just about the turbulence in the air, but also on the ground. That when there is turbulence in someone’s life how he goes through it,” he added.

“Runway 34” also features megastar Amitabh Bachchan. While Devgn and Bachchan have previously worked together in movies like “Major Saab”, “Hindustan Ki Kasam”, and “Satyagraha”, this is the first time he has directed the 79-year-old cinema icon.

Directing Bachchan, Devgn said, was an inspiring experience.

“He doesn’t let anyone around him feel nervous. He is a big source of inspiration for us, the way he works. No one can have his level of hard work and dedication. When he works with you, he inspires you to direct. I know him since my childhood, we share a good rapport. So there was no nervousness,” he added.

Singh, who plays co-pilot Captain Tanya in “Runway 34”, said working on the film was a great opportunity for more than one reason.

“I got an opportunity to work under Ajay sir’s direction and most importantly, I got to star alongside Amit ji. When you become an actor, it is your dream to work with Amit sir. Through this film I got to share his energy and screen space with him,” she said.

The 31-year-old has previously starred opposite Devgn in the 2019 rom-com “De De Pyaar De” and will also reunite with him for the upcoming comedy “Thank God”.

Singh said the cast shot the film in a simulator of a real plane, not on set.

“We were shooting in a small cockpit with multiple cameras, including a jimmy jib. To create that atmosphere of fear, panic, and tension was challenging and exciting… When I had a director like Ajay sir, it was easy to get into the character,” she added.

“Runway 34” also stars Boman Irani, Angira Dhar, Aakanksha Singh, and social media influencer CarryMinati.

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