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Vijay Deverakonda: I want to sit in a café and have normal conversations

Vijay Deverakonda and Raashi Khanna in a scene from ‘World Famous Lover’

Vijay Deverakonda and Raashi Khanna in a scene from ‘World Famous Lover’   | Photo Credit: By arrangement

Ahead of ‘World Famous Lover’s release, the actor talks about wanting to hit the reset button, as he looks to scale up and enter a new zone

Vijay Deverakonda perches up comfortably on the sofa, tucks in a quick breakfast as this conversation unfolds. A few more interviews have been lined up and he’s also hosting a gig to celebrate the growth of his clothing label, Rowdy. He packs in multiple things before World Famous Lover (WFL) releases on February 14.

The Kranti Madhav-directed film has Vijay romancing Raashi Khanna, Catherine Tresa, Izabelle Leite and Aishwarya Rajesh. Is he playing different roles or is it one man in various stages of love? Vijay wants the audience to discover it for themselves. He talks about having enjoyed playing the Kothagudem-based character Seenayya the most, and how the same film gave him the chance to portray Gautam, who lives lavishly and romances in Paris.

Vijay began working on WFL soon after Dear Comrade and says it was physically and mentally draining to do several love stories. Towards the end, he felt like he was done with them. His statement that WFL is his last love story, has drawn attention. “I am 30; till now, I’ve done so many love stories (Pelli Choopulu, Arjun Reddy, Geetha Govindam and Dear Comrade), with digressions such as NOTA and Taxiwala,” he says.

  • Style and sensibility: Dressed in all-black, Vijay states at one point he sported a riot of colours and now prefers muted tones. When he launched his clothing label, Rowdy, he monitored the designing, and would fly down to Bengaluru (where the manufacturing happened) for trials. “Now I have a great design team that understands my sensibilities and does some fun clothing,” he says.
  • Make gifting cool: For three years during Christmas, he turned into DeveraSanta, fulfilling wishes. “I wanted to create moments that people will cherish. Had I been a kid and Mahesh Babu were to ask ‘this Sankranti, what do you want from me?’ I would have been so excited. I wanted to do something like that.” On social media, people expressed their wish and Vijay’s team chose a few. Someone was gifted a Macbook! This initiative is not limited to philanthropy, says Vijay: “I want to make gifting cool, so that others might follow. Someone gifted me ₹3000 when I couldn’t afford a gym membership. I still remember and text her, expressing gratitude.”

Pouring a bit of himself into each of these films, he realised he needed to explore a new zone. “There are many more stories to tell, and I am changing as a person. I am preparing for my pan-Indian project and scaling up, eager to do other genres. There was a time when I was excited by love stories — the slow motion montages, and creating memorable on-screen moments with these brilliant actresses. It doesn’t excite me any more,” says Vijay.

Next up is a Hindi-Telugu action entertainer directed by Puri Jagannadh, in collaboration with Karan Johar.

Vijay also talks about slowing down the pace at which he works, to be able to sit back and analyse his craft, “We churn out films at such a rate that we don’t get the time to reset. All our material and body language come from real life observations. It helps when a director has a clear idea of what he wants from a character. Otherwise it’s up to us to figure it out. And we need time to do this.” He emphasises that he wants his films to be cherished by the audience for a long time.

Has he felt the need to go back and observe real life, and bring those learnings for his on-screen portrayals? “I’ve been feeling that need for the last two years. I want to sit at a café and have conversations. I can have normal relationships only with those who know me for years. Some of them, too, treat me like a star nowadays,” shrugs Vijay.

Vijay Deverakonda

Vijay Deverakonda   | Photo Credit: By arrangement

He accepts that it’s a part of stardom and says he has to turn to alternate sources like books and cinema to analyse characters. But time is scarce, “It’s my own doing; I take up too much work. The only time I can manage to read is just before I go to sleep, or when in the car.”

On set, Vijay juggles responsibilities beyond acting and says the producers place the onus on him, especially when it’s a new director: “I double up and do 15 other jobs, and give it my best,” he says.

When he was an aspiring actor, he wanted to do what he loved (acting) and make some money. Fame was not on his radar. He remembers the days of shooting for Pelli Choopulu, with the then debut director Tharun Bhascker: “We were making the film within a budget of one crore. We wanted to break even so that we can make another film within a similar budget, and then a few more. But ambition is such that new things keep adding to my list. I want to go all out and see what all I can do.”

Summing it up, Vijay draws a cricket analogy, “I will play every ball that comes to me and try to score a century. I have a responsibility towards my craft and my film.”

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Printable version | Feb 28, 2020 8:48:31 AM |

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