Ajay Devgn
Shaheen Parkar (MID-DAY; June 22, 2017)

Akshay KumarLast month, reports of Akshay Kumar giving his nod to a film based on the 1989 Raniganj coal disaster emerged, with the actor being roped in to play mining engineer Jaswant Singh Gill, the hero of the rescue operation. Earlier this week, news of Ajay Devgn also essaying Gill’s role in a Tinu Suresh Desai-directed project, surfaced.

Interestingly, Desai had directed Akshay, who has a penchant of playing real life characters, in Rustom (2016), based on the Nanavati murder case. Even as both the actors are angling for the same subject, Amritsar-based Gill tells mid-day he’s been approached by many industry folk who wish to bring his story to the big screen, “Several people have approached me, but it would only be limited to talks. I was recently approached on behalf of Ajay Devgn’s team for the rights, which I have consented to,” he says, adding that he hasn't met the actor and only interacted with his representatives.

When asked if anyone from the Khiladi’s team had approached him, he says, “I am not a film person. I would not know who wants to do what. Akshay is also a good actor.” Gill, who confesses to having nothing to do with the film industry, vividly recalls the tragedy 28 years later. “For me, it was as if it happened yesterday,” he says.

Ajay and Akshay found themselves locking horns in the past when the duo wanted to make films based on the 1897 Battle of Saragarhi. While Ajay had unveiled the first look of his film, Sons Of Sardaar, in July 2016, Akshay’s project, which was to be produced by Salman Khan and Karan Johar, was announced early this year.