BENGALURU: Sanchari Vijay (32) got a jolt when his name was called out at a press conference to announce the 62nd national film awards on Tuesday.
The Bengaluru artiste has bagged the best actor award for his performance in the Kannada film Naanu Avanalla, Avalu (I am not him, but her). “I don’t know how to react to this word ‘congrats!’ I am shocked and surprised,” Vijay told Express.
The film, directed by B S Lingadevaru, is a docu-drama based on the book I Am Vidya: A Transgender’s Journey by ‘Living Smile’ Vidya, who works with a voluntary organisation serving the destitute in Chennai.
Vijay had dreamt of an award while shooting for the film, but had stopped after he realised he had to compete against the likes of Aamir Khan, Mammootty and Shahid Kapoor in the best actor category.
The award, however, has reinforced his belief that good cinema can win over commerce and stardom.
Vijay’s performance won acclaim for his subtle and unconventional portrayal of a woman trapped in a man’s body — her confusion, rejection and humiliation.
For him, the challenge was about how to bring the character to life. “People usually laugh at transgenders, but I needed to essay the role with sensitivity,” he said.
The theatre and film actor devoted 15 days just to get under the skin of the character.
“I visited many places where transgenders live. More importantly, many transgenders on the cast and crew helped me give depth to the character,” Vijay said.
Vijay wants to thank many people for his success, and told Express he would like to dedicate the award to them all. “To my parents first, who are no more. Then to my older and younger brothers. And of course, my fellow theatre artistes and my audiences who have watched my plays and films,” he said.
He hopes the honour will open doors and bring him opportunities to work with the best in theatre and films.
To add to Vijay’s delight, debutant Manjunatha Somashekara Reddy’s (Mansore) Harivu, another Kannada film in which he plays the lead, has won the National Award for Best Regional Film.
Vijay has been active in theatre for eight years. The prefix to his name, Sanchari, is also the name of the theatre troupe founded by the famous actor couple Mangala and Rangayana Raghu. Besides being an actor, Vijay is also a writer.
Vijay’s film career took off in 2011 with Rangappa Hogbitna, starring Ramesh Aravind. “I have acted in 11 films, but it was mostly theatre that helped me hone my talent,” he said.