Those who thought Vijay Daverakonda had ushed in a new era of naturalistic acting in Telugu cinema, would wonder why he is making the transition to Tamil cinema so early in his career with the bio-pic on the legendary actress Savithri.
Explains Vijay, “There were lots of good scripts coming from the Tamil industry and directors were requesting me to do Tamil-Telugu bilinguals mostly because my Telugu films were doing well there in Chennai, which I became aware of.”
But Vijay was just not interested. “I wouldn’t even listen to Tamil scripts and say no outright because I knew I was handicapped without knowing the language. I function as an actor in a particular way. And language is the most important tool for my acting.”
Then came the offer to Anand Shankar’s Nota. “I heard NOTA because they were ready to make it in Telugu .But I realised it was so perfect for Tamil,and the script excited me. I didn’t want my inability to speak in Tamil to come in the way of filming the script.And I am young and adventurous right now.And I thought, ‘Let’s work it the other way round.I’ll do the film and that’ll force me to learn the language.’So I jumped at it.”
Vijay is learning Tamil on the job. “My work-load doesn’t permit that amount of time.So I learn the language as I shoot. I have to know the meaning of every word I say.I need to feel it. So I learn the dialogue directly.I translate word-for-word to Telugu, understand and then learn the Tamil word, memorize it, then say mydialogue. It’s a lengthy process. Very tedious.Dialogue rehearsal that takes me three minutes in Telugu takes me two days in Tamil.”
Ashwin Nag’s eagerly awaited bio-pic Mahanati of the 1960s and 70s’ actress Savithri is Vijay’s first foray into Tamil cinema.
Vijay admits he did the film for the sake of being part of film that he believes in. “It’s a supporting role in the true sense . I am a photographer who supports journalist Samantha Ruth Akinneni in her quest for uncovering Savithri’s story.We play two reporters from the 1980s. Those who expect me to be as omnipresent as in Arjun Reddy will be disappointed.You can’t go to watch a film on Savithri and expect to watch Vijay Dverakonda in every frame .We are telling her story. I just played my small part in it.I was just happy to be able to contribute to it and be part of a director’s vision and intention I believed in.I didn’t know much about the subject Savithri.But I know the team and know how faithfully Nagi the director goes about his storytelling.His approach is most unconventional.But he tells his stories with an honest purpose.I feel honoured to be at a stage in my career where I can offer support to such a vision.”