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Varun Tej: Operation Valentine An Exploration of Courage, Sacrifice, and Love

Tuesday, February 27, 2024 • Tamil Comments
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Mega Prince Varun Tej is making his debut in Bollywood with action entertainer Operation Valentine.The film directed by Shakti Pratap Hada is releasing on 1 March 2024. The film stars Manushi Chillar, Miss World 2017 as the female lead and it marks her entry into Tollywood. The film's trailer was released by Ram Charan and Salman Khan in an extravagant manner. IAF personnel scrutinised over 50 films with similar scripts and gave permission only to Operation Valentine to shoot in the real locations. Ahead of the film release, Varun Tej interacted with the scribes.

Are you offered any Bollywood projects earlier?

Honestly, I wasn’t offered anything very substantial. I was told to come and work, but there was no real script and stuff. I read a few scripts that probably never went into production. You should feel it from within. I used to feel like I'm finding my way in Telugu, let me figure it out. We don't have to explore other languages; it was like being happy in the space you are in. Then we saw films being embraced by a larger portion of the audience, the boundaries between states blurring, and the language barrier disappearing.

Tell us more about Operation Valentine

The content of the film is also important; it must have a universal meaning. Tomorrow I may make a film related to the region, and I probably don't want to explore it in other languages. It depends on the subject. So Operation Valentine had a universal appeal. Apparently, it is an Air Force film based on true events from 2019. So we kind of figured out that this is something that will resonate with people across the country.

How excited are you over Operation Valentine

I’m a fan of action and war films. When I heard the script, I thought these kinds of war films were very scarce in Telugu, and I don’t know the reason why, other than a few films like Ghazi that came out in 2017. I feel we're going to present something new to the Telugu audience; the emotions and backstory of the events that we based the film on (2019 Pulwama attack and Balakot airstrike) really excited me.

What drew you to the role of an Indian Air Force pilot in Operation Valentine?

Varun Tej (VT): It was a unique opportunity to explore new dimensions as an actor. The character of an IAF pilot was challenging and inspiring, pushing me to expand my boundaries. The moment I heard the script, I knew I wanted to be a part of it.

How do you envision your journey ahead in Bollywood after this impactful role?

I'm taking it one step at a time. I'm grateful for the acceptance I've received so far, but I'm not thinking too far ahead. The entertainment industry is a global village now, and I'm open to exploring different opportunities.

Is there a particular role you've played that resonates with you the most?

Each role has its own significance and offers unique learning experiences. As an actor, it's important to be versatile and adapt to different characters. I don't limit myself to specific roles; it all depends on the script.

How do you manage to balance your personal life with the demanding schedule of an actor?

Balancing personal and professional life can be challenging, but I'm fortunate to have a supportive family who understands the nature of my work. It takes time to find a rhythm, but it's essential to maintain a healthy separation between work and home life.

How does your personal life influence your craft and the roles you choose?

My personal life doesn't directly impact my craft or the roles I choose. As an actor, I prioritize understanding the audience and catering to their interests. It's not always about what I like; it's about connecting with the audience.

What challenges did you face while preparing for the high-action sequences in Operation Valentine?

Shooting a bilingual film for the first time was a challenge. I had to learn Hindi for the role, which added a layer of complexity. Every role comes with its own set of challenges, and this one was no different.

What you learned from your interactions with the defence personnel?

It’s a very high-tension job. Based on what I’ve seen in movies and so on, I always thought air force personnel were serious and stubborn. But when I interacted with them, they seemed very jovial and happy-go-lucky. I was surprised! They told me, “Varun, we live life on the edge, and when we go on a sortie or an op, we are responsible for each other’s lives. I’ve seen my best friend die in front of me – that could’ve been me. When we see death so closely, we don’t dwell upon small, silly things. We don’t take life for granted but take it easy.” They are very serious about their work, but off duty they are more chilled. This is so true – we waste time over small, irrelevant things compared to what they go through. We must enjoy the great gift of life, and I learnt this from them.

Did you dub for your role in Hindi?

I have dubbed for the teaser in Hindi. However, due to time constraints with promotions and other commitments, I might not be able to dub for the entire film. We are exploring options to ensure the dubbing is done justice, whether by finding someone else or managing my schedule better.

What are your thoughts about Manushi Chillar?

Manushi plays a significant role in Operation Valentine. She portrays a radar officer, and her character's relationship with mine, as a fighter pilot, adds depth to the story. Their shared professional and personal lives create an interesting dynamic.

How do plan to take it forward in Bollywood

I believe that acceptance from the audience is crucial, regardless of the language. I'm not thinking too far ahead; I'm taking it one step at a time. Today, there are no barriers to language in the entertainment industry, and I'm open to exploring opportunities that come my way.

How do you navigate working in the same industry as your wife, Lavanya Tripathi?

We are both professionals who respect each other's careers. We discuss our work at home, but we don't interfere with each other's creative processes. We understand that every actor has their own journey, and we support each other's growth.

Has life changed much after marriage?

Not much has changed, except that we now live under the same roof. Marriage is about two families coming together, and we're both fortunate to have supportive families. Lavanya and I have known each other for many years, so our relationship is built on a solid foundation.

Operation Valentine promises to be a thrilling and emotionally charged experience, showcasing the sacrifices and courage of the Indian Air Force personnel. Varun Tej's portrayal of an IAF pilot and the exploration of his personal life add depth and relatability to the film.

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