Vladan Čalija is 18, lives in Bijeljina, and goes to an acting school in Belgrade in the class of Professor Nebojša Glogovac. He wrote the book „In the World of Wonders“, as he said, without planning it, and he dedicated it to actress Ružica Sokić. We talked about what drove him to write the book, and about his path to becoming an actor.
In effect, it was when Ružica Sokić died that I went to Belgrade for the first time to visit her grave site. So when I came to Belgrade, I met her husband Miroslav Lukić at the cemetery. In fact that is where we met. That was also some stroke of destiny, because if I had not met him then, this book would not have come to be, nor would anything else happen.
So we met and exchanged phone numbers and I came to Belgrade every month. I said, „Uncle Miroslav, I want to be an actor,“ and he said, „Really?“. And I said, „Yes, I do.“ And then he suggested to help me join a theatre, the youth theatre. I said, „No chance, that is not happening, first of all my parents would not agree that I should go to Belgrade every weekend from now on.“
So he tickled my imagination and I started to think, „By God, I gotta do this,“ I realised that my desire was strong. So I prepared a monologue and a recitation, and I went to Manda to take an entrance test. And he admitted me. I came first, took a bus, my uncle was with me. I entered, of course I knew no one, only Miki Lukić, superficially. I asked a girl, „Is this where the audition for the acting school is?“ She said „It is.“ I asked „Where“, but she snapped back, „I don’t know!“ I could see I was not all that welcome there J.
So I sat at a table and they brought me papers to fill in my information. Then Manda called me in. And in those papers I put in that I hated playing football and that, when I in love, I could do anything. And when they called, „Čalija first“, I got up to the stage. He said, „What had you prepared“, I responded: „Mika Antić – his ‘Kroj’“.
So I recited the poem, and he said, „It’s good, who coached you“, I said, „Myself“. Then he said, „It is all god, only try to stress the final syllables, not in a monotone, but only put some stress there.“
„OK,“ I said, „I will try the next time.“
The he asked, „So, kid, when in love you can do anything?“
I said I could. Then, silence, and I told myself now he would certainly ask me to deliver an improvisation.
The monologue went well, impersonation too. When I started signing, he just lowered his head :D And so I was admitted.
As a kid I had always been different, I had different interests, different pursuits. First I had wanted to be a chef, so that had seemed… My dad could not believe it. He wanted me to be a footballer, forget it, I wanted to be a chef. It must have come from my early childhood, because I always spent time with my Grandma, with my Mom, with my sister. Dad and Grandpa worked and I did not spend time around men, so I also wanted to have dishes of my own.
But later, I changed my mind, and then I wanted to be a teacher. Obsesively, I knew all about grade books, preparations, curricula and syllabi, I knew all about all that, and I still know it even today. But acting, somehow, was always interwoven with everything. In elementary school, recitals, then prizes and all that.
I realised that the environment was stifling me, that I could never fit in, that I would always be a scapegoat, just because of this difference. And then, thank God, I discovered this world of mine which I would never want to leave.
Can you briefly present the book for us?
I wrote in it everything that occurred to me – my childhood memories and later encounters with actors, because I have really been surrounded by wonderful and great people. And when you have met such great people, you realise that your life has been enriched.
So, the book starts from my childhood, first crushes, first love for acting, for girls, covers elementary, later secondary school, then acting schools, and certainly, all the stories with actors. And it ends with a text „A Voyage to the Future“. Milica Kralj remarked that the book was „a foreword for my life“, i.e. for everything that is still to happen.
I never had a chance to meet Ružica Sokić, but thanks to her I met all other actors. That is somehow strange and I remain mystified even today, when I recall what happened. Certainly, I visited uncle Miroslav at his apartment every day, we talked, he gave me photographs, all the books she had received, with hand-written inscriptions, I have it all at my home now. All the books she got from other actors, photographs ofother actors… So I have an entire archive that means a lot to me. The first year, on her anniversary, he also gave me the icon of St. Parascheva, which she had worn as an amulet.
Idol? Well, I would not know that I have one. I don’t know, I love them all, I cannot now single out just one, to say, „I’d like to be like him“. Although they tell me that I have the voice like Nikola Simić, a soft voice which is more suited for comedy.
Theatre or film?
Both. I passionately love theatre, and the camera too.