‘Was waiting to explore horror again’

‘When I did Bhoot we got a lot of appreciation. After that I didn’t get any script that was good in this genre.”

IMAGE: Ajay Devgn at the Shaitaan trailer launch. Photograph: Hitesh Harisinghani/Rediff.com

Ajay Devgn says horror and supernatural stories are among his favourite genres and he is thrilled to explore it again in Shaitaan after the success of his 2003 hit Bhoot.

Directed by Vikas Bahl, Shaitaan is described as a gripping tale with elements of black magic.

“It’s not that we don’t want to do horror films. If we get something interesting, then why not?… I like this genre and I was waiting to explore it again. When I did Bhoot we got a lot of appreciation after that I didn’t get any script that was good in this genre,” Devgn said at the trailer launch event of Shaitaan.

IMAGE: Ajay Devgn, R Madhavan and Jyothika. Photograph: Hitesh Harisinghani/Rediff.com

The film also features south star Jyotika and R Madhavan. It is a remake of the 2023 Gujarati horror film Vash, which was written and directed by Krishnadev Yagnik. Devgn said he liked the basic story of the original film and decided to make it in Hindi.

“The base of the story was very strong hence we did this film, and we adapted the film in our own way,” he said.

Shaitaan features R Madhavan as the antagonist and Jyothika as Devgn’s wife. Actor Janki Bodiwala, who starred in Vash also features in the remake.

When asked if Devgn and Madhavan thought about swapping their roles, Devgn said he wasn’t keen to play the negative role as he connected the most with the emotions of a helpless father in the movie.

“When we started shooting, the first thing Maddy (Madhavan) told me was: ‘Why aren’t you doing this role, why have you given it to me?’. I told him, ‘I really feel for the character of the father, so I will not be able to do justice to the other character. It’s a stronger character though,” Devgn said.

Madhavan called Devgn a “sherdil” (braveheart) and Singham of the industry for being kind enough to pass on the meaty role in Shaitaan.

“I can really hope and pray that I could do justice to the kindness that has been shown to me by Ajay sir and his team, I’m very thankful,” he said.

IMAGE: Ajay Devgn, R Madhavan and Jyothika. Photograph: Hitesh Harisinghani/Rediff.com

Bahl, known for films such as Queen, Super 30 and Goodbye, said he was “nervous” about making a supernatural movie, a first for him.

“The nervousness comes a lot from the fact that I’ve not done the genre before… Before we started shooting, I told my AD (assistant directors) team that we will learn how to make a film like this, we would watch YouTube videos, read interviews of other directors, and we used to look at camera work. It was almost like tuition classes. One day we were one day watching The Shining (Stanley Kubrick’s classic based on Stephen King’s novel, starring Jack Nicholson), as an example,” Bahl said.

“As a storyteller, it’s a great challenge to try new things, stay nervous all the time, hopefully qualify in different genres so that it opens up your world of storytelling,” Bahl added.

IMAGE: Ajay Devgn, R Madhavan and Jyothika. Photograph: Hitesh Harisinghani/Rediff.com

Jyotika said she is thrilled to have made a comeback to Hindi cinema after over two decades with Shaitaan.

She made her acting debut with the 1998 Hindi film, Doli Saja Ke Rakhna, and went on to become one of the most loved female actors in Tamil cinema.

Some of her notable performances include Chandramukhi, Raatchashi, Kushi, 36 Vayathinile, and Kaathal – The Core among others.

The actor said she was waiting for a “special” opportunity to do a movie in Hindi.

“I am doing this film after 25 years. I got very busy in South…. (I) was waiting for something very special. I think at this stage of your career, you want to do different work. This was very challenging,” she said.

IMAGE: R Madhavan, Ajay Devgn, Anngad Raaj, Jyothika and Janki Bodiwala. Photograph: Hitesh Harisinghani/Rediff.com

Jyotika praised co-star Devgn as someone who is “very giving”.

“The biggest surprise for me was Ajay Devgn and the way he conducted himself all throughout the shoot. I have worked with many actors in my career, almost all the actors down south. My last film was with Mammootty (Kaathal) and now Ajay.

“When I do my film in the South, no one gives space in the poster. It’s been a pleasure to watch Mammootty sir and Ajay. These are the real stalwarts of cinema,” the actor told reporters here at the trailer launch of Shaitaan.

Jyotika, who worked with Madhavan in Dumm Dumm Dumm, Magalir Mattum and Priyamaana Thozhi, is happy to collaborate with the actor in an unconventional project.

“There was no competition, we were so into the role that it actually felt like a family. We finished the shoot in 25-30 days, we were all just flowing with it. I thank Kumarji (Kumar Mangat Pathak, producer) for casting me and I have already thanked everyone so many times. For me to come back to Bollywood and get this (kind) of a film, it is very special,” Jyotika added.

IMAGE: R Madhavan, Jyothika and Janki Bodiwala. Photograph: Hitesh Harisinghani/Rediff.com

Jyotika said she resonated with her character of a mother.

“I think when it comes to a daughter, there is no bigger warrior than a mother. My kids are of same age… So, I didn’t have to put any efforts in it. I used to cry after watching her enact a scene. It is really a vision of a mother.”

Kumar Mangat Pathak revealed that the team already has plans to make the second part of Shaitaan.

Shaitaan will release in theatres on March 8.