It was my first time interviewing Vijay Varma, and I was intrigued, to say the least. The Jaane Jaan actor, to me, always seems like a balanced blend of calmness and wild abandon. However, what really connected us was our mutual dislike for early morning work calls. I was still unsure when I set up the interview for 11 AM on a Monday morning. “This is not a work call. It’s a conversation,” he said, instantly putting me at ease.
Varma boasts a crisp filmography; with him, the minutes on screen have no bearing whatsoever on the impact he may leave on his audience. Case in point: Varma, as Moeen Arif in Gully Boy (2019), was raw, sharp, and unmissable. While most of his characters have been intense, we know Varma has a charming, boy-next-door personality yet to be explored. It’s been an interesting year for Varma, professionally. The actor has had his hands full with projects until September and is on a break now to prepare for his next. “Prep time is also a break because I’m not actively working on anything but preparing myself for a project that starts at the end of this year,” he says. Varma, who had a year of massive successes this year – from Dahaad to Jaane Jaan – doesn’t want to contemplate how he would deal with career lows. “I had great outings this year, and my work found immense love from the audience. I’ll talk about lows when I go through them,” he says.
It was during the conversation that I observed that Varma talks with the same excitement no matter what character or film is in discussion. From the unnerving antagonist in Dahaad to the righteous cop in Jaane Jaan, regardless of the kinds of roles he plays on screen, the actor gets into the skin of his character and makes it his own. However, as he enjoys the rave reviews, he’s often left astonished at the hate his audience tends to carry towards him for his onscreen portrayal. “The audience does get brutal because of the characters I play, but I believe that’s also the mark of a job well done,” he says. However, actors live an unstated truth of sharing a huge part of their lives with people. So, does it not scare Varma when people hate him for his choice of roles? “Honestly, a part of me thrives on being in the public eye, but I enjoy not being run after for pictures at airports,” he laughs.
His recent release, Jaane Jaan, was Varma’s strategic move to break the string of intense and negative roles he’s being continuously offered. “I knew it’s going to be a special one; it was a good palate cleanser for the audience as well,” he says. And rightly so, as not only was the movie a success, Varma was much lauded for his performance alongside powerhouse performers like Kareena Kapoor Khan and Jaideep Ahlawat. When it comes to his art, Varma is an infallible actor and working with a strong cast doesn’t intimidate him. “It’s classic theatre training where a good play is when everybody does well. I don’t want to do all the lifting for the film,” he says.
So, is it all work and no play for Varma? The actor, who enjoys playing video games and shopping, prefers following a routine. “When I am not working on any project, I try to squeeze in my workout and have my planned meals. That, for me, is enough discipline,” says Varma, who loves catching up with his friends over coffee and exploring new restaurants. Anyone who talks to him can tell that he enjoys his quirks with styling and has distinct fashion choices. “A lot of stuff that you see out there is (just) me. I make sure that I put my best foot forward,” he says. He defines his love for fashion as fluid, versatile, and something that appears in phases. “I keep buying stuff; there was a sneaker phase for two years, then I shifted to jewellery for a long period of time. Now, I’m gradually moving into my watch phase,” he adds.
Varma sounds like one of us; he loves to shop and collect things he likes. I now wanted to know what we may find in his house if it’s raided unannounced. “Nudes,” he says with a big laugh while concluding the call, and that’s the wit and unfiltered approach that sets him apart from his contemporaries.
Photographer :Sushant Chhabria; Stylist: Vrinda Narang; Hair: Prasad Bhandary; Make-up: Sama Rajan; Brand co-ordinator: Rohit Nair; Assisted by: Sejal Parulkar, Radha, Imran Shaikh (Styling); Production: Cutloose Productions; Artist Reputation Management: Spice Social.
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