Vijay Deverakonda, who is busy promoting his film Liger, discusses his career, journey from Hyderabad to Mumbai, the adulation of his fans, and more.
Excerpts from the interaction:
Q YOUR JOURNEY FROM HYDERABAD TO MUMBAI FOR THE FIRST TIME, AND TO MUMBAI NOW, HOW DIFFERENT HAS IT BEEN?
I used to play supporting roles till Yevadu Subramanyam became a success. It was during that time that I came to Mumbai for the first time. I came to the city to get a visa as I was planning to go to Europe to visit some relatives. My uncle lives in Europe, and was sponsoring my trip. I travelled from Hyderabad by bus. However, my visa application was rejected because I didn’t have enough money in my savings account, though my father had deposited some funds to meet the visa requirements. The embassy officials thought I was going to Europe to settle there, and rejected my application. But I have since been able to visit the continent, paying for my own trip. On my first trip to Mumbai, I had planned only a two-day visit. It was summer, so it was very hot here. Now, we have shot the entire film Liger in Mumbai. I have spent a lot of time here. I love it. I know people here. My director /producer has his office and residence here. However, after my shoot I just workout and go to bed. Maybe that will change later. In Hyderabad it’s different — when I come back home, people come to meet me.
Q NOW YOU HAVE A HUGE FAN FOLLOWING ALL OVER INDIA DON’T YOU?
I have not yet been able to grasp what’s happening. The idea was for me to visit every city, introduce myself, and promote Liger. My first visit to the Navi Mumbai Mall was a big event. I was not expecting such a huge crowd. I’ve also been to Patna, apart from Mumbai. As soon as I reached Patna, I realised that people already knew me, as they were calling out my name. When I came back to my room, my mom called and became emotional about the love the people from Mumbai and Patna expressed for me. We have yet not understood what I have done to receive this sort of love and attention. It’s touching and I feel welcomed. But I also feel a sense of responsibility — I have to give them incredible and entertaining cinema.
Q WHO ARE THE WOMEN WHO PLAYED A PIVOTAL ROLE IN YOUR LIFE.
It’s a blessing given to me. My maternal grandmother played a huge part in my life. I was very attached to her. My mom has played a very big role too. It was two women producers who gave me my first big break. Over all, women have contributed a lot to my life, and given me love and support. I guess certain star alignments are responsible for the situation.
Q TELL US ABOUT YOUR LOVE LIFE. WHO ARE YOU DATING?
I don’t like to talk about my personal relationships. The privacy of whoever I’m in a relationship with will need to be protected. I have chosen this public life.
But the person who I have a relationship with may not necessarily like public attention. I am okay being judged but not everyone likes it.
Q WHAT DO FAME AND POPULARITY MEAN TO YOU? HOW WILL YOU SUSTAIN THESE?
Fame and popularity will not go to my head. As for sustaining my popularity, I will just have to keep doing work, I guess. If they love my work, they will give me more love. I love the job I do and I will do it till my love for acting continues. I will stop acting if I stop loving it. Nothing lasts forever. This is my work now. I am young and have the energy to perform all kinds of roles. Right now, this is life for me. I take complete ownership and live it. But priorities may change later.
Q WHAT’S YOUR INSPIRATION?
To earn money and respect. My driving force was to earn name and fame. I always wanted to be recognised. I didn’t like the mentality of the middle class which I come from, and I wanted to fight it, rise above it, and follow my own path in life.
Q EXPECTATIONS HAVE INCREASED WITH LIGER. ARE YOU FEELING ANY PRESSURE NOW?
I have no tension about my film. I am very sure it’s going to be a blockbuster. The only pressure point is how to extend my reach. I belong to Hyderabad and this film is set to release all over India. Right now I am concerned with making sure wide audiences watch my film.
Q WHAT DO YOU HAVE TO SAY ABOUT KARAN JOHAR?
After Arjun Reddy I came to Mumbai to meet Karan [Johar]. He loved me as an actor and felt we should work together. At that time, I wasn’t ready. After hearing Liger’s script he agreed to do this film. He asked no questions, just backed the film. I have promised to make him proud and happy that he had bet on the right person. If this works, he will back more people, as Karan right now is obsessed about promoting talent from all over India. Having Karan helped us to bring this dream to life. We are able to promote the film with just his name. He’s a blessing in my life.
Q ARE YOU NOT ACCEPTING ANY OFFERS IN HINDI?
I have not found any scripts. Also, I am not looking to sign any film right now. I want to release this film and enjoy its success. I am doing Jana Gana Mana and Kushi; I don’t want to take on more projects in a hurry. I will hear and pick scripts after a few months.