Vijay Varma’s film journey is similar to a caterpillar’s metamorphosis into a beautiful butterfly. It was a long, tedious, and painful journey, but the results were all worth it. Vijay Varma is known for his acting chops in projects like Gully Boy, Mirzapur, and A Suitable Boy. From Rangrezz promotions, when only half his face could be seen in the posters, he has come a long way, with his name appearing during the project announcement. It happened with Reema Kagti’s Fallen, and also with Shah Rukh Khan and Alia Bhatt’s upcoming production, Darlings.
Varma took up an acting course at FTII in 2005. He came to Mumbai in 2008, and was flustered by the city. “I realized that you have to be up and about in Mumbai, and not working is not an option. The daily grind was tough. For a good year and a half, I worked in theatre with Tom Alter. Casting directors started reaching out to me after watching my theatre performances. This is how I got my first film, Chittagong, in 2010.”
One film led to another, and he landed the part in neo-noir action thriller, Monsoon Shootout. The film was showcased at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival in the Official Midnight Screenings section. It visited many prestigious film festivals, and had a worldwide release only after four years. He reveals, “I knew I had worked in some very special films, and they had the potential to change the course of my life. Unfortunately, things were just not falling in place. You want to act in one film, but the outcome is not in your hands. No one prepares you for those disappointments and impediments.
“For the longest time, I thought that I’m doing a certain film just to get the next film. I was broke for months, and my health was deteriorating. I accepted the role in Pink out of sheer desperation. It was a minor role, and very negative. I also wanted to work with Shoojit Sircar,” he adds.
Pink went on to become a very successful film. He was offered more projects with similar roles, such as a wife/ girlfriend beater, a bhabhi-chaser, or a molester. He wanted to break this image, so he said no to these roles, and accepted a YouTube comedy show titled Cheers. He made his debut in Telugu with MCA Middle Class Abbayi, and played the negative lead.
Then Gully Boy happened, and it marked his transmutation into the butterfly. His portrayal of Moeen Bhai changed his career trajectory. His performance was immensely loved and highly appreciated by everyone, including Amitabh Bachchan, who sent a handwritten note praising Vijay’s work.
Makers went from ‘We may want to cast you for the role’ to ‘We want you to do this role’. Post Gully Boy’s release, he decided not to audition anymore. He clarifies, “Amitabh Bachchan ne likh ke de diya. Baat khatam (laughs).” On a serious note, he adds, “My work speaks for me. I don’t have to go out and prove myself over and over again. Gully Boy released on February 14. On February 20, the makers called me and said that they wanted to offer me something and that they won’t take ‘No’ for an answer. When I reached their office, they revealed that they wanted me to play a double role in the second season of Mirzapur, and I was sold.”
This year, he has decided to do more comedies; he explains,” I think we all need it, and definitely I need it.” He is looking forward to his sci-fi comedy series titled OK Computer.
Varma feels he has very little to complain about at this junction in his life, and his contentment is endearing.