- "I have hung around Jackie Shroff a lot," said the actor
- "The swag comes from my love for Mr Bachchan," the actor added
- Vijay plays Moeen, a brother-figure to Ranveer Singh's Murad
Actor Vijay Varma says he has been quietly "waiting in the wings" for his big moment in the spotlight, which has finally arrived with Zoya Akhtar's Gully Boy. Though Vijay, 34, has appeared in films like Chittagong, Pink and Monsoon Shootout, his acting in the Zoya Akhtar-directed film is winning and has brought him a lot critical acclaim.
In the film, Vijay plays Moeen, a brother-figure to Ranveer Singh's Murad, a mechanic who moonlights as a carjacker by the night. ''When you are doing theatre and a play is happening, you are waiting in the wings for your entry. You enter and do your bit. I was in the wings, ready, with my costume on, knowing that now I will enter (the play). But sometimes I didn't get that entry. With Gully Boy, it feels like this is the time I am entering the stage and doing my bit,'' Vijay told PTI an interview. Written by Zoya and Reema Kagti, with dialogues by Vijay Maurya, the film traces the journey of a Mumbai rapper's rise against all odds.
For Vijay, playing Moeen meant looking for references from his life experiences and borrowing certain character traits from the actors he looks up to - Jackie Shroff and Amitabh Bachchan.
"I have hung around Jackie Shroff a lot and he is a great guy to chat with. The large heartedness of Moeen comes from 'bhidu' (as Shroff is fondly called by fans), because he is so giving. He always looks after everyone. I used him as a reference point," Vijay says.
"The swag comes from my love for Mr Bachchan. I don't think it was in my or even Zoya's mind. It was probably a very subconscious love for him and the movies at large.''
Vijay says he took "a lot of time" to figure out his character as there were nuances to Moeen, who oscillates between being a negative character as a drug dealer and carjacker to someone trying to get by against all odds.
''There were some qualities I could resonate with. He is a fun guy, who doesn't carry the baggage of a tough life he might have definitely had. He has a lot of optimism, which even I do."
To prepare for his role, Vijay met the rappers as it was important to understand the lingo.
''There is a way they say 'kamti hote hai'. You just can't mouth it. You have to do it in a certain style. I also worked on smaller things. Like this guy would have stained teeth. If you have it, it means bad hygiene, which means he doesn't care about it. These little things came together.''
One of the most poignant sequences of Gully Boy involves Moeen and Murad having a conversation while the former is behind bars. Vijay says the scene has resonated with people across.
"I get messages asking, 'Bail hua kya Moeen bhai ka? Main dega bail aapka!'"
The actor says the sequence was so powerful that the energy on the set was ''emotionally-charged.''
''If there were no bars, we would probably be holding each other. I am glad there was a distance because Moeen wouldn't like to expose his vulnerable side. I got emotional. He (Ranveer) was genuinely in tears, being empathetic to Moeen but Moeen is not used to that kind of affection towards him because he doesn't have anyone in his life.''
Gully Boy has given Vijay a wider recognition and he hopes to continue doing good work even in his next projects, a web series written and produced by Imtiaz Ali and a film Bamfaad, which is presented by Anurag Kashyap.
Asked about the future of Moeen, Vijay has an interesting take.
"He will do the running around while he is young. But with age he might become someone like Murad's father (played by Vijay Raaz)."
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