As the lights dim and everyone waits for Zoya Akhtar’s Gully Boy to begin with bated breath, it is not Ranveer Singh, but Hyderabad’s Vijay Varma as Moeen who walks into the opening frame.
In the following frames, Ranveer Singh’s Murad joins him more reluctantly in the background as he goes on with his carjacking expedition. Vijay, who was the bad boy in Amitabh Bachchan and Taapsee Pannu-starrer Pink has clearly matured into the generous and kind, yet unforgiving character of a carjacker and a drug peddler.
Elaborating on his role and how everything fell into place, Vijay says, “I had just finished doing the Telugu movie Middle Class Abbayi (MCA) when I got a call from the casting director of Gully Boy. Zoya asked me to perform a scene impromptu to see how much I was ready with my craft. The very next day, I was on board and we began to shoot soon!”
He adds, “I have been always a fan of rapping since my college days and I was really happy that someone of Zoya’s calibre was making a film on it. I used to visit cyber cafes in Hyderabad to listen and download American rapper Eminem’s songs.”
Vijay admits that it was initially difficult for him to connect with his character Moeen. “He isn’t an entirely ‘terrible’ person he has various shades. He lives in his own ecosystem and loves to hang around college going kids even though he is uneducated. On the one hand, he is feeding homeless children in his garage but on the other, he employs these children for drug trafficking,” he narrates, as he adds, “But there is no undercurrent of jealousy between best friends Murad and Moeen.”
The one scene everyone is raving about is when Moeen talks to Murad from behind jail bars. Vijay Varma’s chemistry with Ranveer has been praised for being beautifully layered with various emotions. Given Vijay’s strong theatre background and meaningful roles in films like Chittagong and Monsoon Shootout, the scene came out quite naturally. “Theatre is a great learning platform to hone one’s skills. Right now, I am busy with shoots and workshops for my upcoming projects, but I will any day go back to theatre if I come across a strong and challenging script,” says Vijay.
On working with Ranveer Singh for gully boy
“Ranveer is a very committed performer. Before we began our shooting schedule, all the actors had a workshop together. He has this uncanny generosity towards his co-actors and is extremely secure in his craft. In fact, it was Ranveer’s idea to let my character Moeen rap in a scene. It was an absolute riot on set while I was doing this scene,” he recalls.
‘Alia Bhatt is all charm’
“Alia is that one student in the class who wants to come first. Always ready with pen and paper to take notes to learn more. With her charm and charisma, I was just in awe of her. While on set, I wanted to click a selfie with her, but as my role required me to be downright dirty, even the thought made me uncomfortable. Only when I had scrubbed myself clean did I finally click the selfie,” he shares with a smile.
“I am almost done shooting for Anurag Kashyap’s next, which will hit the screens sometime soon. I am also working on a web series with Imtiaz Ali that will be released this year as well,” concludes Vijay.