When Arjun Reddy actor Vijay Deverakonda tweeted about the legendary Tamil actress Savitri being a “cool chick”, he hadnt expected a backlash. While he remains unfazed, he says he had meant it in the most harmless way.

Savitri’s fans took umbrage and slammed Vijay.

The actor justified: “I meant she was a super cool girl who did as she willed. Apparently, she had the largest vintage car collection. I found that very fascinating about her. At a time where most women didn’t work, she was acting, directing, singing, producing, having the largest car collection.”

But the southern movie-goers are known to be heavily into hero-worship… or heroine-worship. Vijay will have none of that.

“I don’t worship people like gods or goddesses. I don’t pretend to. I see her (Savitri) as a young girl, a woman, a superstar. We are all human, have our attributes and weaknesses. She had hers.”

Vijay was rather taken aback by the vehemence of the attack.

“It was a bit surprising because a lot of it comes from ignorance. Some of them have the right intentions. But it’s misplaced. And the issue, whoever had it, had it with my choice of word (chick). But I think it’s never about the word but your understanding of it. Mard in India means ‘man’, something you are proud of. Merde – pronounced similarly — in French means ‘shit’. So I meant it in the coolest, most harmless way.”

Vijay is not going to apologise for his remark.

“If someone’s understanding of it is so crude, then it’s none of my problem. As I understand it, people have opinions, people have intentions. I let it be for the most part. But I don’t like being told how I should say stuff, how I should do stuff. You pass your opinions on me. I am fully okay with that. But don’t dictate to me what I should or shouldn’t do.”

Vijay himself features in Mahanati, Savitri’s biopic, directed by Nag Ashwin. The film, releasing on May 9, features Keerthy Suresh as Savitri, Dulquer Salmaan as Gemini Ganesan, and an ensemble cast comprising Samantha Akkineni and Naga Chaitanya.