Actor Vijay Varma has hung the moon and stars in Zoya Akhtar’s Gully Boy. By exploring the different shades of Moeen’s character, Varma has added a new hue to his acting spectrum. And together with other stunning performances, the film has earned thundering applause from the masses, classes and also the critics. “It is a full seeti-maar film. No Bollywood song in it but it is still a crowd puller. It is a blessing and a dream come true,” he says.
Completely in awe of Zoya, he says, “She makes the finest ensembles, and characters in her films are carefully etched out, each one has his or her own space; she doesn’t conform to the typical Bollywood formula of hero and side hero, and that makes all the difference. Then we had Ranveer and Alia who are the best that we have now, and Moeen had so many layers that I was tempted to do justice to it.”
All that he did was play Moeen to perfection who on the face of it, is a garage guy but on the back of it, is also into stealing cars. And not just peddling drugs, he also runs some shady business with children. “There are so many shades, so many enterprises to Moeen. He is a true blue blood survivor because all that he knows is how to survive much like the rat. I figured out that I have to do all that Moeen does, and also add more to it - every little-little thing about him as a person. With great help from makeup and costume guys, I could pull it off. It is great teamwork, from Zoya, Ranveer, and the writing team,” he says on playing Moeen.
Calling Zoya the Dhoni of filmmaking, he was startled to see how she could remain so calm even amidst complete mayhem. “We shot in the most chaotic place in Mumbai, Dharavi, but the prep was spot-on, and the filming happened like a breeze. But I never saw Zoya losing her cool. She was always calm and composed. When I asked her how, she said, ‘I love films, love doing shoots, and nothing else makes me happier than doing what I love’. And I found it the coolest thing about her,” says Varma.
A trained actor, he recounts how his FTII years made a difference in his approach to acting. It gave him clarity of thought which always comes in handy. “When you are trained, you come with your own understanding and a better sense of the art of acting. Training gives a lot of self-assurance and makes you familiar with yourself - face, body, voice. FTII gave me a better appreciation of cinema and the craft of filmmaking.
I knew more of what I didn’t want to do than what I wanted to do,” he quips. He had come to Mumbai with a wishlist of people with whom he wanted to work, and with every film outing, he has in some measure been able to strike out the names from that list. From Shoojit Sarkar to Zoya, from Imtiaz Ali who is directing him in a web series to Anurag Kashyap who is the producer for his next film Bamfad, he is willing to give whatever it takes. And from Gully Boy, he moves to Bamfad. “It is a bomb of a film - a drama about people and passions,” he says.