Geetha Govindam hit the screens this Independence Day and Vijay Deverakonda is back to being everyone's heartthrob, a year after his cult hit Arjun Reddy. The actor was seen opposite Samantha in Mahanati, a multistarrer. TNM caught up with Vijay about the reception that Geetha Govindam has got, his Tamil debut film NOTA and the other upcoming projects.
Tell us something about Geetha Govindam's behind the scenes and working with Parasuram and team.
It's been a long journey. Been a year since my last release. And I definitely give a lot of credit to Parasuram (Bujji) and the presenters - Bunny Vyas and Allu Arvind garu - for the success and response so far for this film. Bujji convinced me to do the film, he gave me two narrations before I said yes. My performance to the writing and especially my comic timing, it's got a lot to do with Bujji. He has a specific style and Vijay Govind has a lot of influence from how Bujji is in real life. He is naturally very funny and that's what I translated on screen.
Also, I was expecting Taxiwaala to hit screens earlier than Geetha Govindam, but when Allu Arvind garu heard about the delay, he immediately fast tracked the realise of GG and more importantly gave a free hand to promote the film my way. I think that's the best part, they always let me do things my way.
You seem to fit into every character with ease. How much do you relate to the various characters you choose to essay?
Well that's a trade secret...as to how I do it! But jokes apart, I think it's all about staying true to the script and character. Once you know the character and blend into it, you need to start thinking like the character itself. For instance in GG, if there is something they tell me to do and I think Govindam wouldn't do that, I just won't. I wouldn't act it out just for kicks, never.
How was it working with Rashmika Mandanna?
It was indeed amazing. Let me quote what I often say to both her and Bujji - if she was not Geetha, Geetha Govindam wouldn't have been the same. There is no Geetha Govindam, without Rashmika as Geetha. It took six months to find her. But when we did, it was so apt. And we are good friends, so there is this immense comfort level between us. I am a serious chap on set and she's extremely energetic and bubbly. And when you're walking on a rom com, the mood on set cannnot go down. So that's where Rashmika helped me cope. And ironically, on screen she plays the serious and dramatic character, while I am the goof.
Luckily, we are working together again in Dear Comrade, but that's a very different genre, so yeah waiting for that collaboration as well.
Tell us something about Taxiwaala, since the teaser makes it looks unlike anything you have done before.
Taxiwaala belongs to a completely different and new space. It's in the final stages of post production and we definitely can't wait to put it out there.
Geetha Govindam has garnered huge attention with Sid Sriram's 'Inkem Inkem Kavale'. In fact, most of the singer's track accompany scenes till the very end of the film. How big a role do you think the song plays in the film?
The film's music, especially 'Inkem Inkem Kavale' and 'Vachindama' have undoubtedly played a massive role in taking us closer to the people, to the film and to the characters. Whatever is happening, all the buzz and hype, it's obviously a lot because of 'Inkem Inkem Kavale'.
'The What The F' song, which is also your singing debut, was changed into 'What The Life'. Why?
Our films reach a huge demographic, different backgrounds and communities. The thing is, not everyone will look at anything with the same amount seriousness or sense of humour that probably we do. People are sensitive towards different things. So keeping these things in mind, we came up with the decision to alter it. It was a conscious choice and we were completely okay with it, majorly because it wouldn't bring about a change in the story.
If 'What The F' played an important role in the plot, then it would have been a tricky decision, but since it's just for entertainment, we went ahead. We just did not want to make any group of the audience feel uncomfortable.
You also launched your own clothing line Rowdy prior to the release. Where did this idea come from?
Rowdy was something that me and my team have been working towards from November last year. Pretty much after Arjun Reddy. Took us like 7-8 months, thinking of the idea and then working on the philosophy, driving upon the kind of clothes, designs and then production. We finally launched in July. And I have definitely put in a lot of thought and added a personal touch to it, because when I was in college I had no particular influence or trend to follow. So I wanted to make it easy for all this generation people in deciding and carrying fashion with ease.
Do you think movies like Arjun Reddy are limited only to the male protagonist? What's your take on women leading southern films?
We have some incredibly talented ladies who have already done and are on the verge of doing great things. Anushka Shetty, for example, has carried many movies on her shoulders entirely. We had an Aruvi and then there is definitely Nayanthara who's in a league of her on. Samantha is doing UTurn.
It's all about the content. Great content has to just go to them. Given the right content, lots of them undoubtedly have the ability to do killer stuff.
Shahid is featuring in Arjun Reddy's Hindi remake and Dhruv in Tamil, your take?
Very curious and excited to see how the film translates into various languages.
First Arjun Reddy, then an unexpected Mahanati and now Geetha Govindam. What sort of genre do you think you belong to?
My choice of films definitely vary and that's just to keep things interesting for me, more than anybody or anything else. There's not much of process involved in these decisions, but yeah I do what I think is best for me.
There has been a large chunk of Tamil fans/ audience who have flocked to the theatres this time around to watch Geetha Govindam. What do you think of this new found love from another set of audience?
That was really unexpected! I have been hearing a lot about audience of other natives, especially Tamil, appreciating the performance. All I can say is, it makes me feels so happy. There's so much love that, I decided to do a bilingual and definitely put extra effort to learn another language and perform better. I want to humour audiences of all languages. If they are making 10 steps for me, the least I could do is take a few steps more for them.
How was it working for NOTA, your Tamil debut? Are you looking to dub yourself?
NOTA has been one of the most efficient sets I have worked on. Should thank Anand Shankar and Sam C for that. It was a super quick and clear shoot. The quickest shoot wrap in my career actually. I got the script one month in advance and I enacted the dialogues myself. The dubbing hasn't begun but the intention is to dub myself. That way the character would be more natural and connect better with the audience.
I put in 3 times the effort I put in Tollywood I guess. Because what takes me 5 minutes here takes almost 2 days in a language new to me. I would come back from shoot and stay up all night learning the dialogues. I learnt the meaning of every word I said.
Read that you have overworked at a stretch after Arjun Reddy, what's the first thing you're going to do on your break?
I just want to eat and sleep all day long, if that's even possible! Today was an off day, but here I am giving this interview. So yeah, I would just like to watch a movie, attend no parties and just sleep in.