Vijay Devarakonda On Moving From Telugu Blockbuster Arjun Reddy To Tamil-Telugu Mahanati

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.”

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