Vijay Varma on Mirzapur’s popularity: It's unparalleled, making you unworried on what critics will say

He joined the season 2 of the series playing double role of twin brothers, Bharat Tyagi and Shatrughan Tyagi
Vijay Varma and his character look from Mirzapur 3
Vijay Varma and his character look from Mirzapur 3

With its massive fandom, Mirzapur has given a lot of love and reach to its actors, says Vijay Varma, who remembers watching the first season as a fan and getting instantly intrigued by the show world. The actor said he was more than happy when he was offered the role of twin brothers in the second season. And now that he is returning for the third one, he said it's a good feeling to be part of the show.

Speaking to PTI in an interview, he said, "It's unparalleled (the show's popularity). I can’t tell you how much this show gives us because jaha par kisine kuch nahi dekha hai usne ‘Mirzapur’ dekha hai (people who haven't seen anything have seen the show). So, that’s the kind of love and reach... It’s like you're not worried about what the critics will say. It's a good feeling."

The crime drama introduced Vijay, who has since built an enviable body of work in both films and on OTT with projects such as Darlings (2022), She (2020) and Dahaad (2023), as twin brothers Bharat Tyagi and Shatrughan Tyagi.

At the end of the second season, one of the two has survived. The third season will explore his story further as Ali Fazal's Guddu Pandit and Kaleen Bhaiya, played by Pankaj Tripathi, prepare to battle it out for the throne of Mirzapur. Varma still remembers the impact the final episode of the Gurmmeet Singh-directed show, which featured a bloody battle in the middle of wedding festivities, had on him.

"I watched the first season of Mirzapur as an audience. I was hooked. The way they ended the first season was so disturbing and gripping. It left you thinking, ‘I want to watch this story, I want to know what happens next’. Then I saw the fandom erupt and I was like, 'Have we actually become this country that has fandom for shows? It's a one-of-its-kind series, I think Sacred Games, and Mirzapur, are the pioneers... So, when I was asked to do the second season, I was more than glad," Vijay, 38, said.

The show, which borrows its name and fictional setting from the Uttar Pradesh city of Mirzapur, is premiering on July 5 on Prime Video.

Asked what's the first thing he does when the script is offered to him, Vijay said he checks whether the character has survived in the end or not.

He praised Gurmmeet for creating a universe that remains unchanged on the surface whether it is the lighting, the set, props or the outfits that his character gets to wear in the show, making it easier to slip into the character.

"I just wear that one white shirt, and brown waist coat and those pants. (I wear) the same shoes, ring and ponytail. So, I feel like I am back to where I was... It feels easy. It's just that the task is to crack this particular season and your emotional arc for this particular season," he said.

Vijay has made a name for himself by playing negative and grey roles in many projects but he liked the "naivety, the happy-go-lucky nature, and the lightheartedness of" one of the two characters he played on the show.

"I don't think I dislike anything about these boys, except one of them is dead. I hope they continue to be twins in the next season as well," he added.

The actor is happy that his recent projects gave him the opportunity to expand his horizons.

"Fortunately, I have had a massive playground to experiment with various projects that I was part of and which I will continue to be a part of. This is coming out now (Mirzapur), and then there’s another one (Matka King), coming this year end.

"I have been in the process of creation and the only time that I get a few hours off, I would like to spend it with my friends, family, and my girlfriend and that's about it,” Vijay, who is dating actor Tamannaah Bhatia, said.

Besides Matka King", the actor also has Suriya 23 with Tamil star Suriya. Matka King will be directed by Nagraj Manjule, known for films such as Fandry (2014) and Sairat (2016). The Tamil language movie with Suriya is a period gangster drama directed by Sudha Kongara and Matka King is a fictional tale set in 1960s Mumbai, where an enterprising cotton trader, who craves legitimacy and respect, starts a new gambling game dubbed ‘Matka’. The crime-thriller series will premiere on Prime Video.

“I couldn't believe my luck when Matka King came my way because I wanted to work with that director for a long period of time. I saw Fandry and Sairat, and I felt, ‘This is probably the most potent director we have’, I needed somebody like that to hold my hand and work with me.” The Suriya film, he said, is going to be one of a kind project.

"I have done one Telugu film back in the day. I am very excited because this is one big theatrical experience, so let's see,” Vijay said.

Asked if desires to attain success as a lead movie star like his contemporary Vikrant Massey did with 12th Fail, he said he is waiting for the “right opportunity”.

"I am packed and ready with all my arsenal. It's just a matter of chance, and me meeting the right opportunity, and also meeting the right response, and that I believe is sometimes to a certain degree in my control, and to most degrees, it's outside my control. To be honest, it has been an honour to be able to put your head on your shoulder and to really work with like-minded people and some really terrific directors. I am working with the finest in the country. I don't feel like a part of me is missing, or a part of me is not tapped (yet),” he said.

Produced by Farhan Akhtar and Ritesh Sidhwani’s Excel Entertainment, Mirzapur 3 will stream on Prime Video from July 5.

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