Vijay Deverakonda: Liger will make people forget Arjun Reddy
Vijay Deverakonda discusses his pan-Indian project, Liger, and why he believes that the North-South labels for cinema must be rejected
Vijay Deverakonda and Ananya Panday are all the rage on social media, thanks to the aggressive promotional campaign for their upcoming film, Liger. Vijay’s latest stop was Bengaluru, where we caught the star for a conversation about the film, and in general, his film choices. With fans thronging the hotel the Arjun Reddy-star stayed in, it’s clear that he’s a crowd favourite in several cities. Vijay participated in a bit of conversation, took some selfies, and began by speaking about his love for Bengaluru. "I studied in a boarding school, and some of my best friends from then are now living in Bengaluru. I often come to see them, unwind and relax. I haven't been able to come here for a while because of work, but I have fond memories of the city."
Here's Vijay Deverakonda, speaking in length about his upcoming commercial multilingual entertainer, Liger:
As a star in Telugu cinema, what was the first significant difference you noticed on the sets of this Hindi film?
Save for Ananya and a few others, everyone else including director Puri Jagannadh and I, were Telugu-speaking people. So, I consider it a Telugu film that was shot in Mumbai. The technical crew was different, yes, but the working experience was the same. It felt like I was shooting in Hyderabad; the only difference was that the crew members spoke in in Hindi.
The Arjun Reddy questions continue to come when you do promotions. Do you think that film will always be a significant factor in how you are perceived?
It will. I think Arjun Reddy became more influential than my other films because it created more impact. In a way, I guess it's my fault that I haven't done as many impactful films since. With Liger, the conversation will shift, I think. When I did Pelli Choopulu, I remember how I kept being tagged as the ‘Pelli Choopulu actor’ for two years after that; in fact, it started to annoy me after a point, and I did Arjun Reddy. After Liger, people will forget Arjun.
It is tricky to play characters with speaking difficulties, without making them sound funny or caricaturish. How did you pull off that role?
I just did it with honesty. But this guy is funny. However, when he is trying to be fun, emotional, and at times, angry, you will never find him caricaturish. You will like him for what he is; you will love and hate him. He is a real guy.
With the North-South debate that’s raging, where do you see Liger fit in this equation? This is the first time Dharma productions is backing a film featuring a star from the South.
Karan Johar has played a big role in creating the phenomenon of 'Indian cinema.' He is the producer who took Baahubali across the country and showed us that it was possible to make cinema for India. The only intention this man has is to work towards collaborating with different industries on the same platform. His only ambition is to make bigger cinema and help us take our films across the country. Popular opinion will change from time to time, but we should always be grateful for the contribution he is making towards cinema and life. I’m confident that Liger will do well across India.
It is being suggested that Bollywood films aren't original and exciting anymore. Do you agree with this assessment?
Most films that have been released over the last year and a half are from the South, and that is why this conversation is happening. As actors, we are grateful that people from Maharashtra, Bihar, and Madhya Pradesh are giving us love. We should respect that even though they speak another language, they treat Yash, Bunny (Allu Arjun), Charan (Ram Charan), Tarak (Jr NTR), and me with affection. We should also treat them the same, and not divide them with North and South labels. In fact, I don't like when people say South Indian cinema is better. It happened because people have been loyal to us, and the new audience has given us love. It is our job to respect that and give back something to the country.