some of Ajith Kumar's films not doing too well at
the box office, there is speculation whether
"Villain" might be the actor's last movie and
whether he will shift gear to pursue his passion
for motor racing.
AJITH KUMAR is always in the news. Whether it is
the off-beat double role he is essaying in
"Villain", taking part in the Formula Asia Car
Race in Zuhai, China, or participating in the
Neyveli Rally where nobody expected him after his
stand-off with the `Nadigar Sangam'. Clearly,
films are no longer the focal point in the actor's
life. And the original `Thief of Hearts' of the
teenyboppers is rumoured to be moving away from
the camera to the racing tracks. The grapevine is
abuzz with rumours that "Villain" will be his last
film, as he has not agreed to take on new
assignments. It has been a miserable year for Ajith
as "Red" and "Raja" were disasters at the
box-office. But this has not affected his star
status, as he is still one of the five saleable
stars in Tamil cinema. After all, none of the
superstars have been able to give a hit in recent
times. So, why blame him alone? The time is ripe
for Ajith to move into a new phase, as the actor
needs an image overhaul. Right now Ajith is
recharging his batteries despite set backs, he
remains upbeat and undefeated. Relaxing in his
Raja Annamalaipuram office sipping lemon tea the
actor with the charming smile opens up...
There are rumours that "Villain" is your last
film. Are you quitting films?
No. Not at all. On the other hand, I have reduced
the number of films to one or two a year to see
that I survive for the next 10 years.
The rumours have started, as you seem to be
concentrating on racing by taking part in the
recent Formula Asia car race in China?
Your question itself carries the answer. Racing is
a passion for me. I would like to remind everybody
that before I started my career in films I was
into motor racing.
What is your priority — acting or racing?
It is only because of my film career that I have
the energy and luxury to indulge in my favourite
sport. I have been shooting back-to-back for
several months, as I have given 200 per cent to my
work and will continue to do so. I want to
consolidate my position as an actor as I have a
commitment to my audience to entertain them. The
world can believe what they want to, but you never
know that I may reach somewhere in motor racing.
Don't you feel that you are chucking up a
lucrative and high profile career for motor
My decision to reduce the number of films came
first and then I started taking part in more
racing tournaments. Motor racing is equally high
profile and I represent my country at an
international level. Anyway let us see what the
future holds for me.
At your age, aren't you a little too old to burn
If you are talking about Formula-1, then
definitely you are right. But I am not talking
about Formula-1 here. I do wish to take to motor
racing at a serious level, which means there are a
lot of other series and championships to be won in
the world. I will be participating in the Formula
Asia Championship early next year. And coming to
the age factor, we do have the IRL and Carting
Championships in the U.S., where the drivers are
well into their late forties. I am only 31, God
willing I should be here to burn the tracks for a
long time to come.
It must be expensive to take up motor racing? Are
you looking for sponsors and endorsements?
Motor racing is the most expensive sport in the
world. I am aware of the fact that sport and
endorsements go hand in hand. And luckily for me,
my brand equity as a movie star and my celebrity
status has attracted a few corporates who are
willing to sponsor me. My racing manager, Akbar
Ebrahim, and his ASB management are taking care of
Your critics in the industry say that since your
film career is sagging, you are slowly switching
over to motor racing.
Show business types are mercenary. They just don't
care about you as a person. The irony of being
born a human is that you are always criticised
till the very end. And when you die the same
people sing hosannas about you.
The industry feels that you have an attitude
problem, as you don't mix well with others.
Ajith Kumar does not have an "attitude" problem. I
carry an attitude! Most of the people you meet in
the tinsel world are fakes. Sometimes, I wonder
what I am doing out here.
Why is there not much hype about "Villain"?
A typical case of `once bitten twice shy'. Last
time around, I did all the talking, this time I
want the "Villain" to do all the talking!
Is your wife Shalini backing you in your
I consider myself lucky to have a wife like Shalu
who shares my interest in motor sporting. At times
she is weary of the dangers involved in the sport.
But at the same time both of us are aware that if
anything has to happen it can take place
at any time anywhere.
In the race as always
Ajith is a name to reckon with in the Tamil cinema
scenario of today. In this interview to SREEDHAR
PILLAI the actor reveals forthrightness,
commitment and a rare acumen too.
Ajith... very clear about the dos and don'ts.
AJITH HAS a new passion. It is not a girl or a bike
... it is flying. The star has just obtained a
Student Pilot's Licence (SPL) to fly a single
engine Cessna A152 aeroplane. Ajith may have left
the racing track behind him, but his love for
adventure sport remains. He has a garage full of
the latest motorcycles and remote-controlled
helicopters at his swanky seaside villa in
Tiruvanmiyur, a Chennai suburb.
As far as his career is concerned the actor is on
a roll. Today in Tamil cinema after Rajnikanth,
Ajith is one of the few actors who has star power.
Ajith's latest film "Raja" carries mediocre reports
but is taking a fantastic `initial' at the
box-office all over Tamil Nadu. This means that
the distributor is able to recover a large part of
his investment in the first week itself.
On the personal front in spite of all those
rumours that his marriage is on the rocks, Ajith
and Shalini are a lovely young couple with perfect
understanding and love for each other. Ajith has
weathered many storms and despite setbacks has
remained undefeated. He boldly takes all the
controversies head-on. Excerpts:
Where have you been hiding of late?
I have just decided not to attend any show or make
public appearances for some time. Right now I feel
my career requires a lot of attention. I believe
that the movie industry is sheer magic and I don't
want to expose myself too much.
Heard that you are not attending the show in
Malaysia, sponsored by Nadigar Sangam... ?
I went through hell during the early phase of my
career. It was then that I decided not to be a
part of any group and remain neutral. Whatever I
have achieved in life is because of cinema and
hence I have great respect for an organisation
such as Nadigar Sangam. But as a matter of
principle, I will not do any stage shows.
You have an image of being a very arrogant and
I am very articulate and do not believe in wasting
my time, as well as others'. I am very clear about
my views and these may have hurt some people. Is
it my fault? I know that there are people in the
industry who praise me in person and then stab me
in the back.
So you have gone through tough times to reach the
Definitely. People started taking me seriously
only after "Vaali" happened, before that I
suffered a lot. In 1997 five of my films flopped
in a row and the industry wrote me off. Today, I
am more mature and level headed than ever before
and my aim is to come first like in any race
Did you enjoy doing intense roles like the ones in
"Dheena" and "Citizen"?
I enjoy doing every scene of a film. Today it is
more important for me to do some memorable roles.
The applause of my fans has become an addiction
Your critics have been tearing you apart for your
choice of films like "Red", where you seem to be
carrying on long monologues with your fans...
I don't make films for critics, but for the
ordinary man who earns around Rs. 100 a day ... he
is willing to spend Rs. 30 out of that to see my
film. What is entertaining for him may appear
unintelligent for critics and the elite. My
producers are paying me to bring the common man to
the cinema halls and remember ... they form the
bulk of today's audience.
Do you have any political ambitions?
Please don't drag me into politics. I have
absolutely no political ambitions. As I told you
earlier, I make films for the common man and at
times some issues that he faces are conveyed
through the characters.
Why are you keeping away from interviews,
commercials, endorsements and stage shows?
I have been offered obscene amounts to do
commercials and stage shows abroad, but as a
matter of principle I am against them. I rarely
give interviews. I am against doing television
interviews or chatting on the net, even to promote
my films. This is my personal decision and it is
not to hurt or embarrass anybody.
Does producer S. S. Chakravarthy control you?
Chakravarthy is a good friend who stood by me
through thick and thin. In private we do have our
fights and arguments. Earlier, I tried to dabble
in film distribution and burnt my fingers. It was
Chakravarthy who showed me the way the film
How do you react to all the gossip about your
marriage with Shalini going kaput?
The best thing that has happened to me till date
is my wife, Shalu. We have a perfect understanding
and there is no room for such weird gossip in our
Do you have any role models?
Not exactly, my father was my biggest source of
inspiration. I was a school dropout from the Asan
Memorial School, in Chennai.
I used to be more interested in cars and bikes,
right from a very early age and my father put me
as an apprentice in an auto workshop.
So tell us about your fascination for car racing,
bikes and flying.
I have left the racing track behind, because as an
actor I have to be careful about my body and
Though I don't race any longer, I am still
passionate about the sport. I have a few bikes and
still use them to rush for a shoot or dubbing, as
it is easier to manoeuvre through the Chennai
Recently, I got the student pilot's licence to fly
a real Cessna 152 ... it was a thrilling
experience. Someday I want to be at the controls
of a Boeing 737 or 757!
Are you a religious person?
I believe that there is a power above us, but I am
not a fanatic. My father is a Palakkad Iyer my
mother a Kolkata Sindhi and my wife Shalu is a
Christian! I go to various temples and I accompany
my wife to the church on Sundays.
What are your other projects?
"Raja" has just been released and is being
appreciated. My next film "Villain" is with
director K. S. Ravikumar and is a fast-paced
revenge story that will be ready for Diwali. Then
I am also working with Shaji Kailas in "Janaa"
which is shaping up well.
Where do you see yourself a few years from now?
Everything in my life revolves round my career and
I enjoy my work more than anything else. Today I
am focussed as far as my career is concerned. My
aim is to stimulate the audience into a long-term