With the exception of Nani and now Vijay, the Telugu industry is dominated by stars who come from famous families.

The rise of Vijay Deverakonda the Telugu star with no industry godfathers
Flix Tollywood Thursday, August 23, 2018 - 16:58
Written by  Mridula R

Arjun Reddy is probably the first thing that comes to one's mind when someone says 'Vijay Deverakonda'. And undoubtedly, the most credit to the star’s fandom goes to the 2017 blockbuster. But to think about it, it actually took more than 5 years for the actor to come under the spotlight.

Vijay’s stardom has been due since 2011, when his debut film Nuvvila released. And the boy with no godfather finally made it with the 2016 romantic comedy - Pelli Choopulu. Needless to say, he then climbed the ladder with 2017’s cult hit Arjun Reddy. Arjun Reddy sure is associated with toxic masculinity, but there was no stopping the actor from making one thing clear - he could act and he wasn’t going to be written off as yet another "mass" hero.

Most importantly, unlike many star kids, Vijay did not follow the familiar route to fame. While rumours were abuzz in tinsel town about Vijay's supposed connection with Telangana CM KCR, the actor is still very much an outsider who has managed to strike the right chord in the southern cinema industry. Bollywood’s 'nepotism' is written about almost every other day- however, the Telugu cinema industry is a breeding ground for the same and definitely not far behind. From Jr.NTR to Rana Daggubatti, Prabhas, Mahesh Babu, Ram Charan, Varun Tej, Naga Chaitanya and every other star of this generation, it’s all in the family. It always has been.

While many of these actors lived up to the expectations and proved to be performers at different stages in their career, admit it or not, there are still films of theirs that we watch only because they've been given opportunity after opportunity due to their family name. Criticism is not something that affects their career graph and neither do awards. There are many cliched action dramas that we witness and wonder what even? So much bloodshed, people flying in different corners, punchlines (though we secretly enjoy these, given they come at the right time), the hero always magically saving the day and female leads appearing as mere dolls. And most of these are spearheaded by the star kids. We never really write them off based on performances but try to judge the film for what it is.

Given such a wave of "home"grown stars, it is important to note that Vijay stands out as an example of an ordinary young man who is capable of much more than his peers, given a chance. Not to forget, Vijay’s first step towards recognition, Yevade Subramanyam, was alongside Nani, his senior who is one of the few actors belonging to the small league of stars who don't have godfathers. Nani definitely set an example among the big guns soon after his 2008 debut Ashta Chamma. Now, Vijay seems to have caught up and considering Geetha Govindam’s buzz, looks like there is no turning back. With the film, he's proved that comic timing is his forte, too.

One week into the release of the film, Vijay Deverakonda has become a name to reckon with among cinema-goers, both Tamil and Telugu. Fans from states more than just one, seem to have found their new heartthrob and a deserving one at that. Though Tollywood gave us the century's biggest southern blockbuster in Baahubali, there has been much written about Telugu cinema's lack of good content over the past few years, except for a few breezy dramas here and there. However, 2018 is proving to be a game-changer so far with Tollywood picking quality over quantity. Movies like Awe, Rangasthalam, Mahanati, Goodachari and Vijay's films, too, follow this path and have most often garnered applause for being less sensational and larger than life.

In Geetha Govindam for instance, Vijay sparks a debate yet again about stalker behavior expressed on screen. In the scene where he creepily tries taking selfies with the female lead and later invites trouble, though apologetic - Vijay is still the hero garnering attention. So while we discuss about Vijay opting quality over quantity unlike many of his peers, such discussions surrounding the actor's roles often come under the spotlight. Having said that, this same quality over quantity though controversial at times, explains his slow yet steady career graph as well. We wouldn't imagine a star kid to get a good break almost 5 years after entering the industry. And though the actor's father Deverakonda Govardhan Rao has worked in the TV industry, he does not enjoy the kind of clout that other star families do. 

The actor’s choice of films post Nuvvila, have shown what content and relatable characters can do to a self made star's image. From playing the underdog in Yevade Subramanyam to the carefree boy-next-door in the National Award winning Pelli Choopulu and the short-tempered man in Arjun Reddy, all of these and even the most recent Geetha Govindam stand as an example of the trend he is looking to set. They also represent and speak of an outsider’s subtle rise to fame and domination in the Telugu industry, which is largely populated by superstar families. Movie-goers who are not Telugu, but also several Tamilians and audiences of other languages have flocked to the theaters to watch GG, owing to Vijay apart from Sid Sriram’s addictive 'Inkem Inkem Kavale' - this is a sign in itself. The actor, who is wrapping up the making of his Tamil debut NOTA, has already established a cult following for himself. 

The audience seems to have a new found love for most things this young star does - including going crazy about his newly launched clothing line via the Rowdy app. Vijay Deverakonda seems to have an interesting public following here and a very cordial relationship with the media as well. One may also observe how with upcoming projects like Taxiwaala, NOTA and Dear Comrade, Vijay is preparing to exploit other genres. While he's already impressed the masses with his dialogue delivery and persona, guesses are that he might just move into the mainstream big star league very soon with more rugged characters. Moving over love stories, romance and comedy, the upcoming films are said to show the actor in new light, giving him more chances to prove himself as a performer.

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