After being a distributor and producer of Hindi films for a long time, Suneel Darshan decided to wield the megaphone and become a director with the romantic action drama ‘Ajay’ (1996). The film, which featured Sunny Deol and Karisma Kapoor in lead roles, completes 25 years of its release today.
On taking the plunge as a director with this film, the veteran filmmaker says, “From my childhood, my aspiration was to be a filmmaker. I could never segregate between the different departments of filmmaking. Even when I was only a distributor, I would watch a film as an audience. Apart from directing ‘Ajay’, I also conceptualized the film and wrote the dialogues as well. While I wanted to make a commercial film that would appeal to the masses, I wanted it to have a technical finesse that was missing in most films those days.”
In his very first film as a director, Suneel had to face many challenges. The filmmaker, however, was determined to make a good film and all his efforts paid off when the film proved to be triumphant at the box-office.
“Ajay was a very ambitious endeavour. We shot extensively in several foreign destinations including Switzerland, France, Scotland and Holland. There were seven Indian outdoors on the film and we also shot many important scenes in a studio in Mumbai. The film started with Juhi Chawla as its heroine. After two schedules, she was difficult it difficult to manage her dates. There came a point when I had no option left but to replace her. I had watched some of the work Karisma Kapoor had done and I could see in her the desire to make it big. Though she was not as big a star as Juhi then, I decided to cast her as I felt she would be right for the part”, he says.
Incidentally, the title of the film is the same as the real name of the lead actor. Though known as Sunny Deol to those who follow Hindi cinema, the actor’s real name happens to be Ajay Singh Deol.
“While writing the script, I had named the character Ajay. I didn’t have any actor in my mind then. In the early ‘90s, Sunny Deol had announced a film with the title ‘Ajay’ under his home banner Vijeta Films. When I approached Sunny for my film, I asked him if I could use that title since the other film didn’t get made. He was fine with the idea and we named the film ‘Ajay’. It took me three years to complete the film as back then, Sunny Deol’s films would take a while to be made. After ‘Ajay’, I had offered him ‘Jaanwar’ but he chose not to be a part of it.”