Vijay Deverakonda, who is busy promoting his movie Liger, talks about his career, his trip from Hyderabad to Mumbai, his fans’ adulation, and more.
Excerpts from the interaction:
Q YOUR TRIP FROM HYDERABAD TO MUMBAI FOR THE FIRST TIME, AND TO MUMBAI NOW, HOW WAS IT DIFFERENT?
I used to play supporting roles until Yevadu Subramanyam became a hit. It was during this time that I first came to Mumbai. I came to town to get a visa as I was planning to go to Europe to visit relatives. My uncle lives in Europe and was sponsoring my trip. I traveled from Hyderabad by bus. However, my visa application was rejected because I did not have enough money in my savings account, although my father had deposited funds to meet the visa requirements. The embassy officials thought I was going to Europe to settle there and rejected my application. But since then, I have been able to visit the continent by paying for my trip myself. On my first trip to Mumbai, I only planned a two-day visit. It was summer, so it was very hot here. Now we shot the whole Liger movie in Mumbai. I spent a lot of time here. I love it. I know people here. My director/producer has his office and residence here. However, after my shoot, I just exercise and go to bed. Maybe that will change later. In Hyderabad it’s different — when I go home, people come to meet me.
Q NOW YOU HAVE A HUGE FOLLOWING ALL INDIA, HAVE YOU?
I haven’t been able to figure out what’s going on yet. The idea was that I visit each city, introduce myself and promote Liger. My first visit to Navi Mumbai Mall was a big event. I did not expect such a large crowd. I have also been to Patna apart from Mumbai. As soon as I reached Patna, I realized that people already knew me, as they were shouting my name. When I came back to my room, my mother called me and was moved by the love the people of Mumbai and Patna showed me. We have yet to figure out what I did to receive this kind of love and attention. It’s touching and I feel welcomed. But I also feel a sense of responsibility – I have to provide them with amazing and entertaining cinema.
Q WHO ARE THE WOMEN WHO HAVE PLAYED A VITAL ROLE IN YOUR LIFE.
It is a blessing given to me. My maternal grandmother played a huge role in my life. I was very attached to her. My mother also played a very big role. They were two female producers who gave me my first big chance. Overall, women have contributed a lot to my life and given me love and support. I guess some star alignments are responsible for the situation.
Q TELL US ABOUT YOUR LOVE LIFE. WHO ARE YOU DATING?
I don’t like to talk about my personal relationships. The privacy of the person with whom I am in a relationship must be protected. I chose this public life.
But the person I have a relationship with doesn’t necessarily like public attention. I’m okay with being judged, but not everyone likes it.
Q WHAT DO FAME AND POPULARITY MEAN TO YOU? HOW WILL YOU MAINTAIN THEM?
Fame and popularity will not go to my head. As for maintaining my popularity, I’ll just have to keep working I guess. If they like my work, they will give me more love. I love the work I do and will do it until my love for acting continues. I’ll stop acting if I stop loving him. Nothing lasts eternally. It’s my job now. I’m young and I have the energy to play all kinds of roles. Right now, that’s life for me. I totally own and live. But priorities may change later.
Q WHAT IS YOUR INSPIRATION?
To earn money and respect. My driving force was to gain name and fame. I always wanted to be recognized. I didn’t like the middle-class mentality I came from and wanted to fight it, overcome it, and follow my own path in life.
Q EXPECTATIONS HAVE INCREASED WITH LIGER. DO YOU FEEL PRESSURE NOW?
I have no tension about my film. I’m sure it’s going to be a blockbuster. The only pressure point is how to extend my reach. I belong to Hyderabad and this movie is expected to release all over India. Right now, I’m concerned about making sure that a large audience watches my film.
Q WHAT DO YOU HAVE TO SAY ABOUT KARAN JOHAR?
After Arjun Reddy, I came to Mumbai to meet Karan [Johar]. He liked me as an actor and thought we should work together. At that time, I was not ready. After hearing Liger’s script, he agreed to make this film. He didn’t ask any questions, he just supported the film. I promised to make him proud and happy to have bet on the right person. If it works, he will support more people as Karan is currently obsessed with promoting talent from all over India. Having Karan helped us bring this dream to life. We are able to promote the film with just its name. He is a blessing in my life.
Q ARE YOU NOT ACCEPTING OFFERS IN HINDI?
I couldn’t find any scripts. Moreover, I am not looking to sign a film at the moment. I want to release this film and enjoy its success. I do Jana Gana Mana and Kushi; I don’t want to jump into other projects in a hurry. I will hear and choose scripts after a few months.