Vijay Deverakonda: I believe every script I've chosen was terrific
Ahead of the release of Kushi, the actor is on a promotional overdrive answering questions about his career, the brand of Vijay Deverakonda, his quest to be original, and more
In the era of self-aware celebrities, who very rarely present a radical or rather unadulterated version of themselves, a refreshing candour is always welcome. But again, this candidness is only fun as long as the celebrity isn’t affected by the unfortunate problem of foot-in-the-mouth-itis. Throwaway statements like “As a person, I am just learning terms like Feminist, Misogyny. I’m a chill guy, who only believes in ‘Live and let live.’ Jobless people create more problems. I hate things being dictated to me. My girl should get along with my parents. It is wrong to put anyone in a box” might sound the death knell for any other actor in this reactionary social media era, but for actor-producer Vijay Deverakonda, it is just another day in the office. By now, people are convinced that he is unlike any other celebrity in Indian cinema, and as he himself proudly puts it, “I believe there is none like me. That’s why I call myself THE Vijay Deverakonda. My parents named me so. I like that name. I want people to call me with my name, and love me for me,” says Vijay as he makes a stop in Chennai during his whirlwind promotional drive for the upcoming film, Kushi.
In fact, it is this love that has allowed Vijay to brave the storm of back-to-back box-office failures that culminated in the biggest setbacks of his career, Liger. “I know people won’t accept this statement, but honestly, I believe every script that I’ve chosen was terrific. It was the execution that didn’t go as planned. For instance, an inside joke between friends wouldn’t translate well to others if the delivery and timing aren’t on point. That’s exactly what happened with films like Liger, NOTA, and even Dear Comrade,” asserts Vijay, who understands where his team didn’t hit the bull’s eye. “I might have done things differently, for sure, including different strategies for promotions. Every story I picked could have been huge, but it just didn’t happen.“
However, Vijay exudes complete confidence in Kushi, which marks his first collaboration with director Shiva Nirvana and actor Samantha. “I used to be a fan of Samantha, and I’ve always admired her as an actor. From there to creating a film together, it was an amazing experience. We know what she went through during the shoot. She has been a solid partner throughout this journey, and I’ve grown really fond of her as a person too,” shares the 33-year-old, who reveals that he too is bombarded by the question that plagues almost every unmarried Indian. “With Kushi also talking about marriages, my parents are also asking me when I’d get married. If my aunts and uncles want an excuse for a celebration, my parents are saying they are getting old. I just asked them to be fit and stay healthy, and ensure old age doesn’t affect them,” says Vijay giving his fans a new-age approach to that age-old question.
Moving on from marriages, Vijay delves into a world that is even more competitive and challenging… box-office success. Agreeing that he fondly misses the simpler times of just being an actor, Vijay shares that it is the success that has given him the power of choice. “Honestly, the reason why I want to deliver success is to gain more power to call the shots. I see myself as someone who knows what I want, and I have developed the instinct to guide the film to its right path. But it is only success that gives you the power, and I want that power,” says Vijay without mincing any words. However, when asked about his reluctance to return to production, he says, “When I’m shooting a film, I am not able to monitor every aspect of the other projects. I am not able to do my best when doing multiple things simultaneously.”
This self-awareness is what has been a trademark of THE Vijay’s career, and his evolution of being more than just an actor has affected his choice of scripts too. “With every film I do, there’s a sense of emotional pressure because those who believe in my cinema want me to succeed. Of course, there’s the pressure of business too. I own a theatre and I know how the success or failure of films affects the ecosystem.” But does it mean he will let go of a nice script if it doesn’t cater to the masses? “I have heard very niche scripts, but my instinct was to not do those films because I know they cater to a particular audience. I'm doing just one film a year, and I know people are waiting to watch it. So, I have to choose films having the bigger picture in mind,” shares Vijay, not before signing off with a statement that is a better fit for the persona of THE Vijay Deverakonda. “What I pick takes the next one year of my life, so I have to pick what I enjoy. My enjoyment is paramount.” Now, that’s more like it.