actor Vijay Verma says it’s a classic underdog tale, in which he went from being a wide-eyed boy with dreams who ran away from home and went to Mumbai to becoming an actor.
In this interview with indianexpress.com, Vijay shares how he coped with a period when he wasn’t offered much work. He said he was a beggar back then, not supposed to vote, but he made sure to turn it around for himself by choosing the right projects and learning along the way.
Speaking of his amazing filmography, which includes movies like Pink, The Suitable Boy, Gully Boy and Darlings, the actor said, “These projects come to mind, but I had to make a choice. I had a little trip. I was in a position where I didn’t have enough choice, so in desperate times I had to take whatever I could. I soon found that even beggars can be picky. As far as auditioning goes, so early on I refused to audition for parts I didn’t like.”
“I had decided that I had to take matters into my own hands and decide what I wanted to do with my career. I didn’t want to play roles that I couldn’t do justice to. I had to start from scratch. And luckily for me, I’m in a place right now where I can curate the kinds of films I want to make and the roles I want to play. Now that I have very little work left, I can’t afford to redo what I’ve done before. So that becomes one of the criteria when choosing the script. The other is understanding what I’m doing in the film and the third and most important is what the film does, what it says and how well it says it,” he adds.
Vijay also explained that his and Alia Bhatt’s characters in “Darlings” are completely different than what they did in “Gully Boy”. He says: “I had to make a conscious decision because me and Alia were both in Gully Boy too. So we wanted to make sure that we were creating entirely new identities. The script was rich enough to give us so much sustenance. I’ve gone to Byculla, hung out with people, heard their stories, heard how they party, how they spend their evenings, how obsessed they are with Reels, how they like their social media and the music they listen to . I studied her and found that there is more Urdu in her “Bambaiya” which I love as I am from Hyderabad. So I gathered small parts to become Hamza who is a very respectable man and has a government job.”
Vijay has been an actor for ten years and calls it a journey of learning. “The outsider who came here ten years ago just feels seen. I took multiple leaps, risks, and chances at the cost of destroying my entire family. I ran away from home. They all feel very recovered now, they feared how I would make it, it’s not easy to go to Mumbai and become someone. I was told ‘tu Shah Rukh Khan nahi hai’ but now Shah Rukh Khan hired me for his film,” Vijay shared.
Some of the best films in Vijay’s recent filmography have been directed by women filmmakers. Darlings Too, a film about domestic violence, is directed by Jasmeet Keer, a filmmaker-turned-debutante. Speaking about the female gaze in stories and whether it has made a difference in the way a story is told, Vijay says, “There is no difference per se, but I like it when a director directs me, especially when I do play a really evil character. I like how a director sees it. There’s a certain look a filmmaker has even for bad men that’s very, very compassionate.”
“You want to say what a monster this person is, but somehow it still evokes a kind of empathy. But there’s just as much vulnerability that, say, Shoojit Sircar or Imtiaz Ali or Zoya Akhtar bring to their films. They are equally nuanced and compassionate people. So when working with filmmakers, there’s virtually no gender difference, but with Darlings, I feel like only a woman could tell the story,” Vijay concludes.