Exclusive: Vijay Deverakonda on turning into a producer, prepping for an action film and why his mom is his superhero
E is the man that Bollywood’s sensational new star Janhvi Kapoor wants to turn into if she turned into a male actor overnight. He is also the first actor to have his Best Actor award auctioned off for `25 lakh for the CM Relief Fund. Also, the only actor in 2019 to get enlisted into Forbes India 30 under 30 list in entertainment. Vijay Deverakonda, rising Tollywood star, seems to have redefined the word game changer in more ways than one. With his bold choice of movies such as Pelli Chupulu and Arjun Reddy, he is barely 14 films and four-years-old in the industry, but already has fingers into many pies. With his own clothing brand called Rowdy in Hyderabad and now a production house titled King of the Hill (again a literal translation of his second name), Tollywood’s ‘Rowdy Boy,’ as his fans call him, doesn’t believe in doing different things, but doing things differently.
Offbeat does it
In fact, this Taurean doesn’t like anything mainstream. He doesn’t celebrate his birthday by visiting a temple with his family or just cutting a cake amidst his fans, but by sending off a truckload of ice creams to distribute to random strangers on the road in the hot summer of Hyderabad. Talking to Indulge at the sidelines of the Telugu trailer launch of Terminator Dark Fate in the city recently, the actor was dressed rather eclectically in black trousers, suit and a fancy black English hat and sporting his trademark beard. “Taking risks comes naturally to me because I come from a humble background and the worst that can happen is that I go back to where I started, which is not too bad, to begin with,” says the 30-year-old. It is the same risk-taking trait that makes Vijay the poster boy for Gen Z and one of the three to have taken part in the Signature Masterclass Passion to Paycheck stories alongside Bollywood superstars Shah Rukh Khan and Kangana Ranaut.
Woods are lovely
Considering Bollywood is almost calling with Dharma Productions head honcho Karan Johar announcing that he will remake Vijay’s recent movie Dear Comrade in Hindi, is Hollywood around the corner? Any idea to follow actors like Priyanka Chopra to explore more horizons? “Yes, there have been some vague talks about Hollywood movies, but then I would like to take it up if they offer roles that are better than inconsequential roles, say like that of an Indian cabbie in New York,” says the actor who incidentally did a movie titled Taxiwala. “Telugu film productions are world-class. I don’t think a movie like Saaho or Sye Raa Narasimha Reddy is any less than the Terminator franchise. We have amazing scripts, creativity and graphics. Production houses like Disney, which have superior dubbing facilities, should start dubbing Telugu movies into English. If we can have Avengers: Endgame in Telugu, why not Sye Raa… in English?” he asks.
Superheroes are for real
As his fans prod him for a selfie, he obliges them with one making sure he stands next to Arnold Schwarzenegger’s standee at the event. When we ask him about his superheroes, he says, “Mom offscreen, and Arnie onscreen.” Vijay gets sentimental whenever he mentions his mom, Madhavi. “Mom is my super hero because she survives me every day. It’s phenomenal how much Indian moms pack into their day. Abroad, kids are independent from the time they turn teens. But for my mom, I am a handful even at 30. From taking care of whether I reported to work on time to if I am following my diet plan and if I have put my phone on recharge, she is mindful of every single step in my life. Only superheroes can take care of another person,” he says.
Talk of his onscreen hero, and Vijay turns into a fan boy. “Look at Arnie. At 72, his fitness is giving me a complex. I am just back from a two-week holiday where all I did was binge eat and sleep. I need to go on a diet, work out schedule and prep for my next movie World Famous Lover by director Puri Jagannadh and I am going to kick some butt. I hope Arnie will inspire me to do this,” he says. While on inspiration, not many know that even the description of this social media star with 4.7 million followers on Instagram has inspired passionate discussion threads in Quora forums. His profile reads: Manas ekam, vachas ekam, karmanyekam, mahatmanam (When your words, thoughts and actions align, you are indeed on the great path).
Game plan for the big decade
Does he think he has been a game changer in the industry and what plans to stay on top of his game in 2020? “Oops, that’s a toughie. Frankly, the industry is a volatile place and one must always keep changing with the times to survive. As you know, things worked out organically for me and I went with my gut feeling. Maybe my timing was right, things fell in place brilliantly. So I don’t want to take too much credit for whatever people think I have accomplished. In fact, numbers scare me. So, instead of looking at 2020 as a new decade or a new year, I would rather break down every month, every week, every day and every hour and give it my best. Kal ho na ho,” he says, as he heads to his next big event of the day – the trailer release of his maiden production titled Meeku Maatrame Choopista which releases on November 1. Actor, producer, motivational speaker and rowdy to his fans, this man is unstoppable.