A section of the audience had called out Arjun Reddy for glorifying toxic masculinity, while Vijay Deverakonda had defended the character's motivations.
Vijay Deverakonda and Shalini Pandey in a still from the hit Telugu film Arjun Reddy
Vijay Deverakonda has enjoyed a meteoric rise in the Telugu industry ever since Arjun Reddy (2017) became a rage. There was a barrage of Hindi film offers after Arjun Reddy’s success, but none caught his attention. He decided to foray into Hindi cinema with Liger, director Puri Jagannadh’s multi-lingual about an MMA fighter who rises from the streets struck a chord with the actor.
The move, he agreed, came with benefits and risks. “Hindi is the most spoken language in the country. So when you make a Hindi film, you get access to a huge audience. Trying a pan-India film is a risk I wanted to take [at this stage]," the actor had told Mid-day at the time of the film's release.
(From left) The actor in Arjun Reddy and Liger
“I connected with the underdog’s fight for survival. I have the same fire that fuelled me from my teenage years. Also, flawed characters [resonate] with me. He is cocky, but also vulnerable. He has a stammer. His insecurities, coupled with his brute strength, offered interesting aspects for me to explore.”
With flawed characters, treatment and messaging are key. A section of the audience had called out Arjun Reddy for glorifying toxic masculinity, while he defended the character’s motivations. Does he worry about his image after the film? “I don’t wish to rectify my post-Arjun Reddy image. I am okay with people liking or disliking me. I am just another actor, hoping to entertain my audience. Their opinions will change based on the work I pick up. People who like me now, might not like me a few years later [based on a role], and vice versa. Perceptions are transitory," he had said.