Vijay Varma aka Moeen from Gully Boy had no idea if he will make it or not in Bollywood, as he had no resources or means to help him kickstart his career in a cruel industry, where almost 100 newcomers come every day to try their luck.
Until 13 months ago, not many people had heard of Vijay Varma, even though he had done several projects like Chittagong, Pink and Monsoon Shootout. It was Gully Boy that gave him a platform when people finally started noticing his work.View this post on Instagram#1yearofgullyboy also.. #happyvalentinesday ðA post shared by (@itsvijayvarma)
You might have seen him even more recently in Baaghi 3.
Well, it was no easy task for him to reach here as he had to struggle for a good 8 years to finally get noticed, and in the process, he even had to disconnect from his family and run away from home to make his dreams come true.View this post on InstagramAkhtar Lahori ðª #baaghi3 ð¸ @ruchitrajguruA post shared by (@itsvijayvarma)
When Vijay started out, he didnât have high hopes or even any ambition, as he didnât have basic knowledge about how the industry truly works.
MensXP got the opportunity to get in touch with Vijay and find out more about his inspiring journey and also talk about how difficult it was for him to make a mark for himself in Bollywood.
I called him up and congratulated him on the success of both Gully Boy and Baaghi 3 and proceeded to ask him about how it all began for him.View this post on Instagram@sancha_sancha @devs213 @coachmarinaaa @versatile_makeoversartist @nm_design_studioA post shared by (@itsvijayvarma)
âIt started in Hyderabad when I was studying there. I am born and bought up there and I have always wanted to pursue acting. It's just that I didn't have any resources or means to get into this field and to fill in the void, I tried several other jobs. But, I wasn't happy and I never wanted to join my father in the family business. I always wanted to be an actor and I actually never had the balls to accept it earlier to myself even, forget about confronting others,â he said.
âEventually, I had to face the truth and I joined theatre school. I ran away from home and borrowed money from my friends. And that was the time, the real training started. Earlier, it was just about running from home and trying to pursue what I have been wanting but I never had high ambitions. I soon realized that I belong here. I was not one of the best students in the film school as I had no idea about films per se because I grew up in a household where people didn't watch many movies,â Vijay added.View this post on InstagramMajor posing for my new friend. Posing kaise karna hai yahaan seekhein. Art by random photographer on Juhu beach.A post shared by (@itsvijayvarma)
With Vijay, the bigger issue was that he wasnât much informed about the industry until he started studying at the Film and Television Institute of India (FTII) and for that, he had to run away from his home, as he mentioned earlier.
It was FTII that opened the doors for him into the world of Bollywood and he finally got his first short movie and also faced his very first rejection.
âI was really not informed about cinema but the discovery started when I was in FTII. So, Shor (the short movie) happened when Raj and DK had come to the institution and they somehow liked me for the role and with this, I got my first short movie. It was a pitch film that they wanted to show it to the producers for making a feature film. Well, I was kicked out of the feature film and it was my confrontation with rejection,â said the actor.
It was after this rejection, that the actor did stage for two years and wanted someone to notice him and his craft.
âThen, I started to do whatever came my way. It was difficult to find work and I did stage for two years. I didn't want to go to auditions every day, get rejected and end up feeling miserable about myself. So, I rather chose the stage, hoping someday I will be noticed by important people but that also didn't happen (laughs). After that, some roles started to come my way and that's how I became a part of Chittagong and then, Monsoon Shootout. I started to audition and then Gully Boy came my way,â said the actor.
Before any of this happened, it was a long journey that he had to take on his own, as even his parents didnât support him. Earlier, in an interview he had given during the promotions of Gully Boy, he had revealed that he had actual physical confrontations with his father, who did not approve of his career.
Vijay firmly agreed with me when I brought up that generally, most Indian parents are of the belief that if their sons or daughters join a creative field, especially acting, âtoh paise kaise kamaenge?' or 'ghar kaise chalegaâ?
Â© Excel Entertainment
âYeah, I completely agree with you. My parents, when they used to read newspapers, used to find names like Shah Rukh Khan, Aamir Khan as they were the newsmakers. Your parents will never correlate those names with your children because they are too big. They didn't know that actors can survive without becoming a Shah Rukh Khan and I also realized that I can't give them that education,â he said.
For Vijay, it was harder as he had to completely detach himself from his family because he had no idea if he would be able to make it or even start his career in this field for that matter.
âIt was a difficult space and extremely problematic. There were times I used to avoid going even being physically ill, because I had no answer to their questions and I didn't want to see rejections in their eyes. I didn't even know if I would be able to make it. It was pretty dark and only work could fill the void. It went on about for about 7 to 8 years and I had to detach myself from my family. I can't be looking all miserable and you had to keep your sh*t together because you can't be using a bad day as an excuse. I actually learnt it and this kind of education wasn't given in film schools. The whole idea is to keep your mind sane when things are going awry,â said Vijay.View this post on InstagramMajor posing for my new friend. Posing kaise karna hai yahaan seekhein. Art by random photographer on Juhu beach.A post shared by (@itsvijayvarma)
I then proceeded to ask him, very bluntly, as to how did he survive in an expensive city like Mumbai after completely cutting himself off from his family.
On this, he said very frankly, âWell, for the first two or three years, my father gave me like a monthly thing, but I stopped taking it as I didn't want to be in a comfortable spot. After I stopped taking money, I actually realized what poverty is and then, I started to work and things came my way, Back then, even going to the theatre for watching a movie was a treat but I am glad that things are settled now.âView this post on InstagramHappy #worldtheatreday This is where it all started and this is where I found myself. Forever indebted to the stage. And to all my teachers. Will add details about the plays and anecdotes when I get time. Hyderabad-Pune-MumbaiA post shared by (@itsvijayvarma)
Now that Vijay has finally made it, I was curious to know if his father is happy now to see him flourishing or is he still struggling to accept his son's decisions.
âI am sure he is happy. There came a point that I stopped bothering myself about what he used to say about my career as their opinions had a direct impact on me. My dignity lies in my work and I am honest with my craft. I also know that when they see my work, they can see the efforts that I put in, even if it's a minor role. Apart from my father, I talk about my work with everyone in my family. My father made peace when he saw my picture with Amitabh Bachchan and then, he never bothered me as, somewhere, he knew that I am earning. It's a father's thing and at times, fathers can't put together their insecurities in front of their children,â Vijay asserted.
After discussing his struggles, I panned our conversation towards about how actors are still given the tags of the lead actor or supporting actor.
On this, he said, âThese tags have been existing from the time movies started. I don't see them going away in the ideal world. I don't mind the tag of a supporting actor. You know whenever someone acts well, directors say that 'yeh toh actor hai' and vice versa. It actually shows the mindset of such people. I am fine with these tags and I am at a place where I can choose what to do. In the future, you might see me playing a negative or a comic role, so keep the tags open in that case. I will keep surprising you.âView this post on InstagramBoys from the Naka. Voice of the streets. #GullyBoy #bts with Swag-Dev @ranveersingh ð¥ðA post shared by (@itsvijayvarma)
Before wrapping up our conversation, I asked Vijay if he is happy with what he has achieved and what does he expect from his future in this industry.
âI never had high ambitions. I just wanted to act in a movie and post that, things kept happening. I am happy that I came in touch with Zoya Akhtar and people know me now. Personally, I feel I have achieved milestones. From walking the red carpet at the Cannes to playing Ankit in Pink to Gully Boy, I believe everything just came to me at the right time. Having said that, it was Gully Boy that changed the trajectory and I loved my part,â Varma said.
To end the interview on a lighter note, I wondered aloud that almost all the characters that he has played so far give âbhaiâ vibes and I wanted to know if he ever wants to play a romantic hero.
âI would love to play a romantic hero but I don't get offered such roles very often. The ones that were offered didn't work out and sometimes, those characters weren't layered. I feel like the roles related to romantic heroes, for me, should more than just being a chocolate guy,â the actor said and signed off.
Well, I really hope that Vijay keeps entertaining his fans and yes, in the future, also surprise them with a wide array of characters.