Arjun Reddy was very hard for me: Vijay Deverkonda

Arguably  the best thing  to  have happened to Indian cinema in  2017,Vijay Deverkonda tells Subhash K Jha  he has moved on from Arjun Reddy. His Next Is  A Complete Departure.

 How  do you look back on the Arjun Reddy experience?

It sapped me. Exhausted the hell  out of me. I had to be constantly probing into the darkest areas  of  my consciousness, digging out feelings and  tapping into emotions that I had never touched in myself.  You see, when it comes to probing and showing my feelings I am a shirker.

What  do you mean?

I can’t show let alone share my emotions. In fact I’ve kept it all locked up within myself all my life. Yeah, it’s a problem,specially when  it comes to relationships with the people who are close to me.

I remember  you telling me it was causing a problem with your girlfriend?

It’s always been a problem.That’s why Arjun Reddy was very hard for me.The character is constantly diving into grey and dark areas  of his subconscious. Left to myself  I won’t even go there.

Did you   expect Arjun Reddy to make  such an impact?

We knew we were doing something never done before, at least not in Telugu cinema. We were sure we’d make some kind  of an  impact.It went much further than we expected. But now I’m done with ArjunReddy. My next film in Telugu in entitled Taxiwala. It’s a supernatural thriller,a  world as far removed from Arjun Reddy as possible. I  play acabbie.

And  in the  the biopic on actress Savithri you play MGR?

You mean Mahanti in Tamil? Yes, I am doing that film. In fact I’ve just started shooting for it. But I am  not playing MGR. I sometimes hear I am playing MRG, sometimes NTR. I am playing neither. I am  actually playing a journalist. Both Samantha Ruth Prabhu and I play journalists who set  out to piece together the story of Savithri’s life.

Like Orson Welles in Citizen Kane?

Yeah,  kind of. Do you know , I’ve hardly watched the classics? I spent half my life in  a boarding school where we were shown only the sporadic wholesome classic like The Sound Of Music. So I am not familiar with most of the works of  the acting greats in Bollywood, Hollywood  or Tamil-Telugu cinema.We were shown sanitized  films where even a brush on the lips was  cut.

So where did all that horniness in Arjun Reddy emerge from?

(Laughs) I don’t know. Probably it was suppressed inside me . All of it came bubbling to the surface in Arjun Reddy. Yeah, this  guy believed in pre-marital sex and was a very physically-sexually active creature. But now in my next film which I start shooting in February I play a  virgin.

You have to be kidding?

No, seriously. The guy I am  playing in my next is a sweet wholesome lovable family man who wouldn’t dream of asking his girlfriend for a kiss let alone sex. This is my homage to the archetypal angel-hero thatSalman Khan plays  in Sooraj Barjatya’s film.

Do you find it challenging to play a sweet-natured character?

It’s  a big challenge. I am done with sweetness and  virginity with this film. The three films after this would all have me playing dark disturbed characters.  Exploring the dark side of my characters’ personality is my forte.

Are you looking at doing a sequel to Arjun Reddy?

 My director Sandeep Reddy Vanga and I discussed it even while we were filming Arjun Reddy. There  is so  much to this character that remains unexplored.We will return to Arjun at some  point, though not right away.For now I’m just happy with the impact this film and my  character has made. I’ve just received my first Best Actor award fromZee Telugu.And that too from the legendary  Chiranjeevi Sir.

 What  next?

Well, now I leave for a two-week European holiday to Spain and Belgium. I think I’ve earned myself this break. I come back after the New Year to complete my work in Mahanati.

Will the high expectations you have generated with Arjun Reddy come in  the way of audiences appreciating you in  your forthcoming films?

 I am happy with my role in Taxiwala. It gave me a chance to do  a character that was fun. I didn’t have to agonize over every scene. As for Mahanati it’s a relatively small role in a film that pays a homage to one of Tamil cinema’s greatest actresses.Sometimes it is liberating for an actor to just be a part of film where he doesn’t have to shoulder all the responsibility.

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