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Interview with Vivek Oberoi - Film
For Company you did a lot of homework --- spent time in slums, wore shabby clothes to get under the skin of the character. Was Road less demanding?
It was relatively easy. In Road, my character is linear and uni-dimensional. It was more of a reacting character. I am a foil to the other characters in the film. It is the most normal character in the most abnormal, extraordinary film. He is an ordinary guy. There is a limited range, a little limited scope as a performer. So there was not much to do in terms of drawing an autobiographical sketch like I did in Company for general references. In Road I am a victim. In 48 hours, his life goes from beautiful to complete hell and he has to get it back.
How was it working with the costar of Company again in Road?
Fantastic. I really enjoyed myself. Antara Mali is a fine performer. Her role in Road is in complete contrast to that in Company.
Unlike Company where you did a lot of action, your new film has you dancing. Were you uncomfortable?
It is an interesting misconception people have that I don't know how to dance. I enjoy it a lot. I guess because in Company I played a serious character, people thought, 'He is an actor and probably cannot dance'. I think choreographers Manoo (Manoor Sachdev) and Ganesh (Acharya) have done a fabulous job.
The industry is flooded with rumours that you have fallen out with your mentor Ramuji.
I think this controversy always follows Ramuji. It started with Manoj Bajpai, Fardeen Khan and now me. The best reply to this would be when Ramuji announces his next film with me.
I cannot afford to fall out with Ramuji. I don't mind even a five-minute role in his film but I want to be a part of his projects. We are discussing a new project soon.
You are quite infamous for your attitude, especially with the media.
Everybody has an attitude. Even my pets have attitude. So what? All I can say is that I am elusive to a certain section of media. I turned down many photoshoots and interviews because I was not convinced about doing them. I don't believe in 'any publicity is good publicity'. That is why you have yet to find me on covers of gossip magazines. I do not want to do anything I don't enjoy doing. I turned down a couple of offers of endorsing liquor even though I was offered an obscene Rs 10 million to do it.
You do seem to charge exorbitant fees, to the tune of Rs 10 million per film...
This is idle gossip! I don't even know how many zeroes make ten million! Honestly, this is the weirdest thing I have heard. Let me put this on record, I do not charge ten million rupees per film.
I turned down many films because their scripts did not excite me.
There are rumours that Hrithik Roshan is manipulating your releases to replace you?
Spare the poor guy! He is too busy and too big a star to indulge in such petty things. But since media has started this, I think I should call up Hrithik and ask, Mujhse dosti karoge?
He is a brilliant actor and dancer. He deserves every bit of success. Most important, he is so down-to-earth despite his success.
Has success changed you?
No. I am the same man who still travels in an autorickshaw, even walks down. I think people make too much of everything, especially about stardom. As long as I can handle being mobbed, I am fine. So far, girls have not gone hysterical with me or torn my clothes. Stardom is a myth. If people liked me in Company, they liked the character I played, not Vivek Oberoi. At the end of the day, people like characters more than actors. It is the authenticity of a role that fetches the appreciation.
Stardom is like putting a price or a tag on the talent of an actor. By doing that, you devaluate, not add price to it.
Are your other projects challenging as well?
Yes. I am doing Saathiya opposite Rani Mukherji. The script is written by Mani Ratnam and dialogues by Gulzar. The highlight of the film is that it starts where other commercial films end. If you wonder about the 'ever after' of 'they lived happily ever after', you have an answer here!
Saathiya is about what happens when two lovers start living under one roof, when they start fighting for one bathroom. Interestingly, Shah Rukh Khan once told me many scenes are based on him and [wife] Gauri's real life.
I am also doing Dum, set around hospitals. It is about a guy who believes in the system and wants to get justice, without trying to change it. Directed by E Niwas, this is a Hindi remake of a superhit Telugu film.
Lastly, which is the best compliment you have received so far?