EXCLUSIVE | Ajay Devgn on his third National Award for Best Actor: I have the highest regard for these awards

It’s his third nod as the Best Actor at the National Film Awards after Zakhm (1998) and The Legend of Bhagat Singh (2002). And at this stage in his career, Ajay Devgn isn’t consciously working for awards, they happen to be a by-product,

This time, it’s for his period drama Tanhaji- The Unsung Warrior(2020), which co-starred his wife Kajol, Saif Ali Khan, and Sharad Kelkar. In an exclusive conversation after the awards were announced, he starts off by thanking and congratulating others, “I thank all of you for your best wishes. I have the highest regard for the National Awards. And, I’m humbled and happy to receive my third mention as Best Actor. My congratulations to Sooriya (who shared the Best Actor award with Devgn) and all the other winners of the various categories,” he says.

Do such big honours make him feel an added sense of responsibility , both as an actor and filmmaker (he co-produced Tanhaji)?

“Awards & box office success don’t necessarily add pressure or a greater sense of responsibility at this stage of my career. I’ve completed 30 years in Indian cinema. Surely that must stand for something. After a point, responsibility is there through & through. Cinema is my lifeline,” quips the actor.

His first reaction, upon hearing the news, was this: “I smiled, said a thank you to someone up there and folded my hands in a namaste. Then, I silently thanked my parents.”

In a business as unpredictable as films, Tanhaji was one of the rare examples of a film which ran in theatres for weeks, got a terrific word-of-mouth and that translated into box office collections. Devgn has a reason for it, “Tanhaji upheld the balance of good writing, clear storytelling, sincere performances, grand VFX, good costumes, great music and vision. That’s perhaps why the film struck the right balance and cut across barriers. I congratulate my director Om Raut, my creative team & each of my co-actors.”

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