“With great desperation comes great inspiration,”
Says birthday boy and actor Vijay Varma whose work have garnered attention, praise and some fabulous role in Hindi cinema and in the web series space. He’s interestingly also been part of the opening scenes of some big films – as the Moeen of Gully Boy and Fugga Kumar of Super 30. All the characters he has played till date, be it dark, grey or troubled, have warmed our hearts. His character Sasya from She, the Imitiaz Ali directed web series, that released recently on Netflix has been widely lauded and loved too. Here’s an EXCLUSIVE interview with the talented FTII graduate and actor who is winning hearts and applauses.
How are you coping up with self-isolation?
I live alone but I am not losing my mind. I just tell myself to not be in the couch always and I have been indulging in some heavy cleaning around the house by myself. I am setting up the kitchen though I don’t know how to cook. I have learnt a few things though I have no love for cooking. As they say, with great desperation comes great inspiration. I made rice and then curd rice!
You started your career in 2012 and were choosy about your roles. Did you refuse more roles than accepting them?
Yes, I have said no to many roles and have my reasons to say so. If you are talented and have the appetite for working hard, you don’t have to succumb to anyone. You can stand your ground in all humility and use your talent in the right places.
How was it going back to the Hyderabadi accent in She?
I am a Marwari raised in Hyderabad so, I am familiar with the accent. But during Gully Boy, I learnt the Bambaiya lingo. To prep for She, I had to unlearn that and get into the Hyderabadi zone. Though both are Hindi derivatives, they are starkly different than each other. I had to be mindful and isolate myself to get into the Hyderabadi lingo.
Did you background of FTII influence your choice in film roles?
It does because you are exposed to some truly great cinema and film makers. You realise what doesn’t bode with you and what works for you. We all have our idea of self-worth and self-analysis and what you are good at. If I cannot connect to a script I cannot do that role. If I do, I do it. Simple.
Tell us about Monsoon Shootout?
Shootout was my first feature film. I was new and I had a certain idealism about me naturally that synced with the character of the rookie cop I was playing in the film. He is a new recruit and is idealistic about the way he will tackle crime. It fit perfectly because here was an actor who didn’t look like a cop. I was lean, lanky and tall and had to play a tough role opposite Nawazuddin Siddiqui. The film has three endings, that were shot parallel to each other and it was a marathon for me to keep repeating scenes and innovate.
You have worked with some huge names in the industry. Tell us about them?
During Monsoon Shootout, I spoke to him over the phone and later I met him at Prithvi. I was so thrilled that I getting to work with this incredible actor. He is iconic and so good. He brings so much freshness to his craft and does his work with so much ease. There’s nothing an actor working opposite him has to worry about, he makes you that comfortable. I had the chance to work with Mr Amitabh Bachchan in Pink. A legend I have loved and admired from my childhood, I took a picture with Mr Bachchan and my family finally thought I was doing something good. I had done films before but that picture validated many things. I love Irrfan Khan and what a body of work he has. I love him. I want a career like his.
Your characters with shades of grey are still endearing? How do you manage to infuse that?
I have had instances in my character say problematic things but I try and say it with compassion to make it relatable. People today won’t believe in Mogambo today but I feel, today, a Satya is relatable. Sasya’s character is a hero in his head. He likes to tell stories and thinks he is ahead of everyone else in the game. Also, most Hyderabadi characters are caricatured in films and create a comic effect. I took it upon myself personally to bring my vision to the character.
What about your future roles?
My next film Bamfaad is with Aditya Raval (Paresh Raval’s son) who will make his big screen debut. It is also director Ranjan Chandel’s debut and the leading lady is Shalini Pandey, known for her performance in the Telugu hit Arjun Reddy.Mine is an authoritative role and a love triangle. It is a study of power and I have finished shooting and waiting for the release. In Hurdung that is set up in the 90’s during the Mandal commission, I play a university leader. Five of your most favourite roles
The jail scene in Gully Boy
While shooting it seemed like a regular scene but when Ranveer and I we watched it, it reeked of a genuine connection. We felt the pain that our characters had for each other.
The scooter scene in Pink
It was an interesting scene to do. I had to threaten this senior actor on the road and throw him off his scooter. It was a tough scene to do.
The Rangrezz scene where I a hit by a steel rod
The interrogation scenes in She.
They were at a subliminal level.
The final scene of Chittagong
Here fiction and reality are fused together. I am walking with a bunch of people. It is a powerful scene.
Filmfare ME Pick
Cheers: Friends Reunion Goa
There is a scene in the film where Vijay’s character is challenged to do a scene that another actor cannot get right. Watch it!