The name Vijay Raghavendra automatically takes us to the critically-acclaimed children’s movie Chinnari Mutta. Karnataka has known this actor by the name Chinnari Mutta itself! A child artiste, who comes from an illustrious family that has strong roots in the Kannada film industry, Vijay has been a lucky mascot for many.
He can easily fit-in to the shoes of any role – be it a determined lover in Kallarali Hoovagi or chocolate boy in Ninagaagi or an extremely possessive husband in Sevanthi Sevanthi. Vijay won the National Award as a child artiste for Kotreshi Kanasu and was also successful in winning the first season of Bigg Boss. When he debuted as a lead actor, the expectations were huge. Ninagaagi, a remake of Telugu movie Nuvekavali, was his debut venture. It established him as a hero. Later, he had a tough time. Just when people have written him off, he delivered critically and commercially acclaimed hits. The success in Bigg Boss inspired him to take up direction too. In a candid chat with Shwetha Shivkamal, the actor speaks about his challenging journey.
You have been there in the industry for decades; how do you think filmmaking has changed over the years?
As they say, change is the only constant and only because of these changes, we have been able to survive here. Earlier, the number of films made were very minimal and stories were either mythological or on societal issue. The number of movies drastically increased and the stories started to sound monotonous. That’s when the concept of presentation came to the fore. Even today, the gist of film is the same as the ones that were made decades ago. Now it’s all about presentation and promotion. A simple story presented as a perfect package can become a sure shot hit, with right promotional strategies. And in terms of filmmaking, surely there is a huge difference as now we have the most advanced technology.
You come from a family that is an integral part of the film industry. How easy or how challenging was it?
I was excused of the basic challenge which most aspiring actors have to deal with; that is getting into films. Apart from that, the entire journey was extremely challenging. I consider myself lucky to be born in this family. People would wait for years to get a glimpse of Dr Rajkumar and the Raj brothers (Shivarajkumar, Raghavendra Rajkumar, Puneeth Rajkumar) and I was fortunate enough to have grown up with them as a family. But I was constantly reminded that this, in no way would ease the way to success. I could have come from a family that is closely attached to superstars and filmmaking, but one can stay and sustain here only if they have talent because every day here is a challenge.
Kallarali Hoovagi was a trendsetter in Sandalwood and you are one of the horses who led the film. How was the experience?
Frankly speaking, I will have to be thankful to Nagabharana sir for considering me to play the role of Jayadeva. Majority of the audience and critics who watched the film appreciated the teamwork. I would like to call this movie a Magnum Opus of my career. It is once in a lifetime experience and I was fortunate enough to be a part of it, that too, as a lead actor. I agree that the movie did not do well commercially but this movie is a masterpiece in my career and will always be a special film.
You were not in the limelight for a couple of years after few movies tanked at the box-office
Yes, there was a phase in my life where I had to face failures and downfall simultaneously; they are closely related though! I still haven’t figured out where I went wrong! When the directors narrated the script to me, they sounded extraordinary but the case was different when it came to commercial aspects. I did lot of films and most of them were multi-starrers, but none of them worked at box-office. I just let it pass like a phase and then Bigg Boss happened.
How would you like to describe Bigg Boss experience?
Bigg Boss helped me realize many things in life and the best one being- never try to prove yourself, for the sake of somebody. I had no idea what Bigg Boss would be like; the concept itself was new to me. Just when I was thinking about what to do next, I got an offer to be a part of Bigg Boss. My wife insisted me to give it a try; and again, like I said before, this too is a once in a lifetime experience. And the best part was that I, along with three more contestants, stayed in the Bigg Boss house for 100 days. Being at Bigg Boss house taught me to be true to myself. All I can say is that after seeing me on TV, people now know me as a person and not just as an actor who wears make up and acts as somebody else.
How is life post Bigg Boss?
Many expected Bigg Boss success to work wonders in my career. But surprisingly I was not bombarded with offers or anything. Yes, I did get few scripts but I did not like. Hence I decided to direct a film and that is how Kismat (directorial debut) happened.
You are a part of too many multi-starrers, are you okay with it?
I am open to multi-starrers; in fact it was those multi-starrers, which saved me from the downfall, to certain extent. When a filmmaker plans a multi-starrer, he would have also planned various dimensions for the film. Multi-starrer film has its own commercial angle and it is like a perfect blend of all genres. The movie and the actors and shades of actors will have various dimensions, which is considered a safe bet in the commercial market.
We haven’t heard of your directorial venture Kismat for a while.
The movie is almost over; the post-production works are also done. We are just waiting for some tail-end packaging. The movie is close to my heart and it will surely change the filmmaking language in Sandalwood. The movie is about us, our life and emerging out alive amidst all failures.