After doing the hit 2017-Telugu film Middle Class Abbayi (MCA), Vijay Varma left his hometown of Hyderabad in 2005, despite opposition from his parents. He enrolled and completed his film studies in FTII Pune with the help of his friends. Then, in 2008, he headed to Mumbai to try his luck there.
The rest, as they say, is history, for Vijay Varma struck gold with critically acclaimed roles in several well-talked-about films, including the 2012-film Chittagong, his Bollywood debut, the 2017-film Raag Desh, the 2018-film Manto and perhaps his most remembered films, Gully Boy as well Super 30 in 2019.
Ups and downs in the industry aside, there has been no looking back for Vijay Varma. His latest series, titled OK Computer, in which he plays the lead with Radhika Apte for the first time, is all set to stream on Disney +Hot star from 26 March. Vijay speaks to us about his film journey and all that seems exciting in it
Excerpts from the interview
Q Are you still connected to your hometown, Hyderabad?
I was born and raised in Hyderabad and lived there till I was twenty-one years old. I have my entire extended family and my college friends there. I love the food over there, especially home-cooked food and still remember how I loved celebrating Ganesh Chaturthi, Eid, Diwali, Holi, Christmas, etc.
Q Is there any opposition from your parents anymore?
No, there isn’t any opposition anymore. They’ve been supportive, even telling me I was welcome back home to stay there if nothing worked out in Mumbai.
Q Why didn’t you consider Tollywood despite being a Hyderabad boy?
I did one Telugu film, MCA, because I was not getting good roles in Bollywood. MCA went on to become a huge hit. But after Gully Boy, I got really busy in Bollywood. All said and done, I would like to do more films down South, if the opportunity arises.
Q There is a sense of ease around your performance. Would you consider yourself a born actor or a trained actor?
I’d say I am a trained actor. I wasn’t really a good student either! It’s just that I have had the desire to prove myself. And I think years of discipline, patience, passion and artistic persuasion have lent me my talent. Moreover, I was raised with immense love by my parents. I learnt from my mistakes to make myself a better person and, likewise, a better actor.
Q What was your experience working on your current project, the sci-fi comedy drama, OK Computer especially because of the humour in it?
As for OK Computer, it is a complete new imagination of a new world and visualisation of a new character, which means it has no reference to any sci-fi comedy and neither are there any references to the character I play. So a lot of brain exercises had to be done in trying to bring in perfection. But all along, we had a lot of fun while shooting for it. Worse, because I cannot control my laughter, I used to laugh in between the shots and that’s how I have destroyed a lot of scenes. [Laughs] But one thing is for sure; the humour so was on point, people were laughing on the set. And I cannot wait for everyone to watch it and tell me if it is indeed enjoyable.
Q How do you evaluate your journey in the industry?
My journey in the industry has been an absolute delight and that of a tortoise and hare. I will slowly and steadily win the race. Life taught me fairly early in my career that my plans might not always come alive. But I’ve learned to make mistakes and learn from it so I can do my best. And just when I was hoping for a change in my career chart, Gully Boy happened, and now, I am at a position to seek more work for myself and making a lot more money, which is great.
Q So in addition to being passionate, money also keeps you going.
Money is a driving force — not the foremost. It would be the third or fourth factor I consider before I take on a project. The first is whether it means something to me. The second is the people I would get to collaborate with — those I love and whose work I admire. The third aspect about taking up a project would be about creating a character that would make me look good in my own eyes. After all that would be how much I am being compensated for playing the role. In other words, I don’t want to make mistakes for money. I believe in working hard and that money will follow.
Q What’s next on the film front for you?
My next film is Fallen for which I am shooting in Rajasthan currently. It’s a fictional narrative based on police procedures and investigation of a crime that happens in Rajasthan. Sonakshi Sinha plays the police officer and I play a college professor. Then, there is Darlings and Hurdang. Darlings, which is a dark comedy produced by Red Chillies, is also Alia’s first venture into production. Alia and I play husband and wife while Shefali ji plays the mother-in-law. The story, about a man and woman’s relationship, unravels into something intense.