Actor Vijay Verma says his is a classic underdog story, where he went from a wide-eyed boy with dreams who ran away from his home and headed to Mumbai to finally become an actor.
In this interview with indianexpress.com, Vijay opens up about how he navigated a phase where he didn’t have much work being offered to him. He said he was a beggar then who wasn’t supposed to choose, but he made sure he turned it around for himself by choosing the right projects and learning along the way.
About having a great filmography with films like Pink, The Suitable Boy, Gully Boy and Darlings, the actor said, “These projects come to me but I had to choose. I’ve had a bit of a journey. I was in a position where I didn’t have enough to choose from so I had to take whatever I could at desperate times. Soon enough, I figured that even beggars can be choosers. So early on, in terms of auditions and all, I used to refuse to audition for parts that I didn’t like.”
“I had decided that I had to take matters into my own hands and choose what I want to do with my career. I didn’t want to do roles to which I couldn’t do justice. I had to start from scratch. And, fortunately for me, right now I am at a place where I’m able to curate the kind of films I want to do and the parts I want to play. Now that I have a small body of work, I can’t afford to repeat what I’ve done before. So, that becomes one of the criteria while choosing the script. The other is to understand what I am doing in the film and the third, and the most important, is what is the film doing, what it is saying and how well it is saying it,” he adds.
Vijay also explained how his and Alia Bhatt’s characters in Darlings are poles apart from what they did in Gully Boy. He says, “I had to make a conscious choice, because me and Alia, both were also in Gully Boy. So, we wanted to make sure that we create completely new identities. The script was rich enough to give us so much to feed on. I went to Byculla, hung out with the people, I heard their stories, I heard how they celebrate, how they spend their evenings, how they’re obsessed with reels, how they like their social media and what music they listen to. I studied them and realized how there’s more Urdu in their ‘Bambaiya’, which I love as I am from Hyderabad. This is how I collected small bits to become Hamza who is a very respectable man, has a government job.”
Vijay has been an actor for ten years, and calls it a journey with a lot of learning. “The underdog who came here ten years ago, is feeling seen right now. I took several leaps, risks and chances at the cost of almost breaking up my entire family. I ran away from home. So, they all feel a lot of respite now, they feared how I’d pull it off, it is not easy to go to Mumbai and become somebody. I was told ‘tu Shah Rukh Khan nahi hai’, but now Shah Rukh Khan has employed me for his film,” shared Vijay.
Some of the best films in Vijay’s recent filmography have been helmed by women filmmakers. Darlings too, a film on domestic violence, is directed by Jasmeet Keer, a debutante woman filmmaker. On the female gaze in stories, and if it made a difference in the way a story is told, Vijay says, “There is no difference per se, but I like it is when a woman director is directing me, especially when I am playing a really evil character. I like it the way a woman director sees it. There is a certain kind of gaze that a woman filmmaker has even for evil men, which is very very compassionate.”
“They want to say what a monster this person is, but somehow it still evokes some sort of empathy. But there is an equal amount of vulnerability that, say Shoojit Sircar or Imtiaz Ali or Zoya Akhtar bring to their films. They’re equally nuanced and compassionate people. So practically there is no difference between different genders when it comes to working with filmmakers, but with Darlings I feel like only a woman could tell the story,” Vijay concludes.