My mother feared Mike Tyson would harm me: Vijay Devarakonda

Vijay Devarakonda-Mike Tyson
Combo image of actor Vijay Devarakonda (L) and the actor with boxing legend Mike Tyson.

Telugu superstar Vijay Devarakonda has a fan base across India. And this time he is back in a never-before avatar. The star who has been synonymous with the romantic-angry-young man image talks about his movie ‘Liger’ which is releasing on the 25th of this month and about the controversies surrounding his previous film.

Ananya Pandey and Ramya Krishnan are the other leading actors in this film which will be simultaneously released in Telugu, Hindi, Tamil, and Malayalam. Boxing Legend Mike Tyson also plays a crucial role in the film.

What is ‘Liger’?

Though there is action in the film, at its core is a heartwarming bond between a mother and son. Ramya Krishnan plays the mother. Mike Tyson also plays a crucial role in the film.

There are big names (Puri Jagannath, Karan Johar) associated with the film. How did you become part of it?

Some of my favourite films are directed by Puri Jagannath. His film ‘Pokkiri’ and the leading character was much celebrated. I never thought I will be able to do a film with him. All these factors were running on my mind when I heard the screenplay of ‘Liger’. I realised that this was one of the films I was actually searching for. Soon I was preparing for the role.

Karan Johar called me after watching ‘Arjun Reddy.’ He had loved that film. Karan had told me that day that if ever I was keen to explore Bollywood and if I find an interesting script, I should let him know. He loved the script of ‘Liger.’ Since I felt the film had a pan-Indian appeal, I thought it would be ideal to collaborate with Karan Johar. That’s how he came onboard as a producer.

How was the Mike Tyson experience?

My mother was more anxious than me when she heard that I was going to act with Mike Tyson. She was scared that I will get hurt during the fight scenes with Mike Tyson. She even held pooja at home. In between, she would call the film crew and ask about the shooting updates. She would tell them that it is their responsibility to protect me from Mike Tyson. But then Mike Tyson is such a sweet person when you get to know him personally. An ordinary man who used to share things about his family and other personal stuff with us.

You have said that you are waiting for a call from filmmakers like Lokesh, Vetrimaaran, and Pa Ranjith. Are you expecting a call from Malayalam cinema?

I don’t know any of the Malayalam filmmakers personally. I like the films of Anwar Rasheed. And also Fahadh Fasil films. I loved the films that come out of Fahadh Fasil and Friends productions like ‘Kumbalangi Nights’ etc. It was Dulquer Salmaan who introduced me to Malayalam cinema. I love most of his films, including ‘Kammatipaadam.’ I also watch the films of Shane Nigam and Soubin Shahir.

Though 'Arjun Reddy' was a massive hit, it also had its share of criticism for glorifying misogyny…

Audiences are a major factor when it comes to films. It isn’t necessary that everyone should like everything. It is of course good that there are discussions about a film’s content and performances. I am also someone who keenly follows all the positive and negative discussions. And I wholeheartedly welcome such discussions. That’s much needed. But I haven’t deliberately done anything to hurt anyone in ‘Arjun Reddy’.

You are a much-loved actor. How do you react to all that love?

I am really grateful for all that love. I studied in a boarding school. And back then I was a bit hesitant to interact with girls. It was after 10th grade that I shifted to Hyderabad for studies. And in my class, there were a lot of girls. But I was too scared to talk to them. Today it is lovely to see that I am loved by a lot of people.

How was the all-India promotional tour?

It wasn’t easy for sure. But there is another side to it. You are meeting and interacting with a lot of people and that’s an enriching experience indeed.

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