Additionally, Vijay Varma talked about his ten-year journey and the kinds of parts he aspires to do in the future.
When the camera panned in the first scene of Gully Boy, there came Vijay Varma, with a towering personality, walking toward the camera and being followed by Ranveer Singh, who plays the titular role in the film. People know instantly that this actor has arrived and is here to stay. Now with Darlings, Varma has showcased a different range wherein we love to hate his character of Hamza, an abusive husband to Alia Bhatt's Badrunissa (Badru).
During an interaction with OTTplay, the actor spoke about how he was surprised by the character that was written for him. Varma also discussed his decade-long journey and the types of roles he hopes to play in the future.
You recently said that you were surprised when you heard the script for Darlings. Could you expand on the same?
I didn't say I was surprised. I was shocked by it, because this script has so many things that surprise and shock you. So that was interesting, because that drew me to the script. But the character kind of made me a little scared to take it up. So that's what I said. It scared me because it's a part that is both very challenging and very evil at the same time. So I don't know if I could do the job nicely or what the effects of it would be on people. And will I be able to break the stereotype after that?
The film treads a fine line between humour and darkness while addressing a subject like domestic violence. As an actor, was it equally challenging to know that this subject is quite important to be addressed?
When you work with the director, the intention of the film needs to make sense, and that's the main point of a good target to kind of look at. Whenever you're doing a scene, make sure that it eventually takes the audience to the place, that it takes the story to where it's supposed to go, and doesn't digress in a way that distracts people. Especially when you're doing something that's a little tragic and a little heavy, you can actually make it a little heavier or you can lighten it up, or you can lighten it up in a way that the sense of the scene goes away. So we had to find a nice fine balance and Jasmeet was very thorough and rigorous with her writing and, therefore, her direction too, and she never let that happen. We were in synergy, in sync with the motive of the film.
With having Alia Bhatt as your onscreen wife, I am sure it wouldn't have come as a surprise knowing that the actor can pull off the role as we have seen that side of her in Gully Boy too.
We shared the comfort of sharing some time during the making of Gully Boy and its release in the post-release events. So there was a familiarity that the ice did not have to be broken because it was already broken. Therefore, she kind of saw me for the part. So I knew that she wanted me to play this part, that helps. Since we have a very dynamic, very electric relationship in the film, there is a lot of push and pull between these two personalities. It's nice to have that comfort at the same time. My regard for her as a performer and her regard for me as talent comes in because we have to trust each other blindly when we're doing these really heavy dramatic scenes as well. So all of it came together very nicely, and with the entire cast, I would say it was a breeze to go through this.
What kind of synergies did you all share while being on the sets, knowing that it was a close-knit environment too?
As I mentioned, as much as we go, knowing what we have to do for the day, we do this truthfully. Because we like spontaneity, and how do we spice it up if it becomes too dramatic? If it is going a little too tender, how do we, like, do something and we're all constructing, we're all constantly thinking? What do I do that changes that? Do I just like some simple choices that you make? When it is good when everything kind of falls into place like that, you don't have to struggle. Because of everybody's energy and intention, it's somehow just like any other work that is planned. Somehow it just seems to work, and that happened a lot on this one.
Whether there was a pandemic or not, your filmography kept on getting populated with the roles being offered to you. Has it ever happened that your choice of a role gets affected depending on the current project you are shooting for?
Yes, you must curate the types of stories and characters you create, because no one wants to see you repeat yourself. So, I have been mindful of that.
A filmmaker is a filmmaker irrespective of gender. However, people frequently disagree about how a character is written depending on the filmmaker. You worked first with Zoya, who gave you a towering and unapologetic personality in Gully Boy. You now work for Darlings with Jasmeet K. Reen. Do you notice a difference when you're on set with a female?
I mean, I don't particularly see any difference in terms of the process of filmmaking because the director is a male or a female. But certain stories are told better by female directors because, as a gender, they probably know how to say something deeply personal to a woman. Darlings, I may be wrong, but I feel like this story is best told and would not have been told by another man. I feel this is the only way the story would have made sense if it was spoken by a female director.
What makes you gravitate towards, you know, an OTT release? Do you think it makes any difference in the mindset of the audience watching it?
No, it has nothing to do with the choices that I make. Fortunately, I've worked with directors who've made so much cinema in their lives that their processes are also the same. When Imtiaz Ali and I collaborated on SHE, he'd done big-budget films before, and the process was the same, I did more workshops for SHE than I did for Mirzapur or for some films too. So the process is the same for actors, and wherever it is going to be seen is not something that kind of becomes a talking point. But of course, I like a good platform because Netflix, in particular, I feel like has a reach, not just nationally but internationally. I've seen the effect of it when she came out. When SHE Season Two came out, season one was trending again. So I know that the platform has a role to play. Particularly with Netflix, I feel like the reach is so incredible, and the platform is so well known for giving people the stories that they love, and there is fandom around it.
You are completing a decade as an actor this year. How would you describe your journey so far because now you are getting better and better roles?
It was a conscious choice I made. The first lockdown is the one where I wanted to engage myself more in the stories. I want to be seen more. I want to do more things in front of the camera. I would take up any role, even if it was a two-scene or a cameo. I would do it. I had done Super 30 at that time, and I just had one opening scene or one closing scene or something like that. But I consciously decided to kind of not to spend myself easily. I wanted to take charge of the characters that I chose, and Darlings is a product of that choice. So are the other upcoming projects, like the adaptation of Devotion of Suspect X, with Sujoy Ghosh. There's another one that is coming out, and there are two more. I think I have four upcoming releases, and they're all in capacities that I enjoy.
Do you think with this new wave of storytelling, the definition of leading stars has changed? Irrespective of any gender, things have changed for the hero of the film.
There has been a trend: stories are becoming more heroic. I recall when Khosla Ka Ghosla was released and the sudden possibility of telling a very long story without any so-called stars. It blew people's imaginations, and we've been doing it in the 80s, 90s, and 2000s. Some filmmakers keep redefining and improving mainstream cinema as much as it has its power, but it is also trying to cater to telling greater stories, and some filmmakers keep better stories. Even mainstream cinema right now has to kind of rise up and make stories that are not silly.
What kinds of genres interest you as an actor?
I feel like romance is something that nobody's explored with me. I would love to see that. Dark romance is also something that I feel like it's a story that needs to be told. I love zombie films. I wish somebody would write a nice zombie apocalypse comedy with me. I would love to do that. I don't think we make good erotica in this country; we need good solid erotica with self-deprecating humour, like a film like Andaz Apna Apna or Tropic Thunder, that kind of thing.