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Tuesday, Oct 04, 2022

Why Vijay Varma was gripped with fear every time he watched Darlings: ‘I thought waat lag jayegi’

Vijay Varma was scared when he first watched the film and thought there is no way he can get away for playing a character like Hamza.

Vijay Varma speaks on the success of Darlings (Photo: Vijay Varma/Instagram)

In Darlings, Vijay Varma’s Hamza relishes a plate of biryani cooked by his dutiful wife, Badru (Alia Bhatt). For the first few bites, all is well: they discuss the future, he kisses her hands, she is happy. Until, Hamza bites, what sounds like, a bone.  She opens her palm so he can spit it out. He takes another bite, chews another bone. Badru, now gripped in fear, slowly extends her hand again.

Hamza calmly spits it out and before Badru can react, springs up from his chair, choking her like he is wishing her good night. This is just the first of the many chilling scenes in Darlings, which follows a woman’s fight to freedom from her toxic, violent husband.

But Vijay Varma, who has played Hamza Shaikh to a frightening effect in the Jasmeet K Reen directorial, wants to leave his wife-beating character behind. “It is a difficult experience watching yourself be this man you hate. But I am done watching this film. I am never going to revisit it, I know it for a fact,” the actor tells indianexpress.com.

 

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A post shared by Vijay Varma (@itsvijayvarma)

 

Vijay is not new to portraying complex, flawed men on screen. His Sasyya–a notorious narcotics dealer– in Imtiaz Ali’s She earned the actor glory, and so did his turn as Moeen in Gully Boy. But Darlings, Vijay says, was unlike anything before.

“What we had to do while making we did, what I had to see while watching, I have seen. I left the film soon after shooting it. The feeling of how it will be received and all the fear that I had are now put to rest. I am in a good space, finally,” he says.

The effect of Vijay’s turn as the monstrous, gaslighting husband in Darlings on the actor is so huge, that he says his favourite sequences in the films are the ones which do not place his character with either Badru or her mother Shamshu (played by Shefali Shah), who he is also violent towards.

“My favourite scenes are with Zulfi (Roshan Mathew). Those are the scenes that I can watch without feeling a lot of… I hate Hamza to the core, but the scene where they both are on the scooter and he asks, ‘Is this scent or powder? Are girls impressed by this?’ I kind of enjoy that scene,” he adds.

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Since the release of Darlings on Netflix, Vijay has been flooded with overwhelmingly positive reactions. The feedback, as he puts it, is “astonishing”. The actor was scared when he first watched the film and thought there is no way he can get away for playing a character like Hamza.

“I was really scared when I saw the film, I thought ‘Waat lag jayegi meri’ (I will be in trouble). I knew the film was working, beats of the film were landing well. When I was watching it, I was gripped in fear. Every time this character appears on screen, it is not easy to not be fearful. You are either filled with rage or some kind of dread, it just evokes that kind of response. I thought how will I get away from this.

“Hamza did receive a lot of hate across platforms. Women have shared stories how they have seen a monster like him in their homes, lives, marriages. That way it people very hard, at the same time I am glad people are mature enough to identify that the characters and actors are two different people. We are no longer living in the 80s and 90s. I managed to stay away from the flak.”

 

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A post shared by Vijay Varma (@itsvijayvarma)

 

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Vijay managed to successfully steer the audience towards hating Hamza by never toning down his performance. He showcased him as is: a violent man who punishes his wife at the slightest inconvenience. “I didn’t want to water down his personality. I wanted to keep it potent. It works like that because in the first three scenes, if you don’t feel enough hatred, dread against him, then the revenge–the second half of the film–won’t be very rewarding for the audience.  I tried to keep him as real as possible. There were personal challenges too.

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“I didn’t want any residue of the other characters I have played before, especially Gully Boy. It has stayed in people’s minds so we stayed away from the Dharavi lingo and kept it close to Byculla. I visited the place, hung out with those people, spent a lot of time with the boys from the area. It paid off well,” he added.

First published on: 19-08-2022 at 08:17:27 am
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