Oberoi is the man of the moment. He's certainly the
most talked about newcomer in the history of Indian
Cinema. With his performance being appreciated and praised
by one and all he is certainly going to give all the
others actors a run for their money. Vivek exudes a
level of confidence and maturity that belies his inexperience.
He is smart, dashing, confident and modest. All these
qualities will definitely make him numero uno in no
Excerpts of an interview with this wonderful actor:
What do you feel about
I haven't been thinking about my success or popularity.
It is not very important for me; it is not what I live
for. I don't work for adulation. Cinema is my passion
and I work for cinema. Most important thing for me is
my director, the script and his vision, his belief in
his vision and my role in helping him fulfil his vision.
Like Ramuji wanted to work with me. That was my ultimate
dream, ultimate satisfaction in terms of my achievement
rather than doing 500 interviews.
How did Company come your way?
I have heard that there's quite some story behind it.
Yes, that's true. My father had spoken to Ramu about
me. He came over to have a look at me. He didn't think
of me at all while casting for Company because, as he
later told me, I looked too young to play the underworld
don. I had to somehow convince him that I could do it.
And I dabbed several shades of colour on my skin to
look dark, grew a stubble for a couple of days, acquired
dishevelled look with a dirty old shirt and a pair of
trousers and went to his office. The receptionist thought
I was really some gangster and was hesitant to announce
my arrival. When Ramu heard my name he called me in.
I walked up to his door and pushed it open with a slam
and with a bidi tucked between my lips grabbed a chair,
put my feet up and spoke typical Mumbaiya Hindi. Fortunately,
my pictures were on his table. It took him a while to
relate to the man sitting before him. He merely smiled
and asked me to join him for a drive. In the car, he
said, 'That was brilliant". I knew then that I had got
So how was it shooting for
It was an amazing experience, to play a crime lord in
Company. I had prepared myself for the role from the
very start. Stayed in a hut at Vikhroli for months on
end to get a hang of how people live in the slums. Their
mannerisms-the way they behaved, adopting their lifestyle
and trying to mould myself in such surroundings. I met
a few petty criminals too. I use to record whatever
they had to say so as to pick up their style of talking.
For instance, we generally say, 'main bol raha hoon'
but they will say, 'main bolre lai na'. Even the pronunciation
of certain words that they use is different from the
way we speak.
What kind of homework did you
do for Company ?
I wrote a 300-word biographical sketch for my character
Chandu. I tried to figure out the way he would talk,
the kind of clothes he would wear, how he would interact
with people around him. It just helped me understand
the character better. To understand the role you have
to get into it and live it.
What was your experience with
the criminals who lived there ?
I did not interact with anyone who enjoyed real status
in the underworld. Those guys live on a different scale.
But yes, I did meet guys like Chandu who run small gangs
and believe that they were a part of the nexus when
actually the powers that matter are completely unaware
of their existence. There's a certain glamour associated
with crime and criminals in the minds of such unemployed
youths most of whom are disillusioned with society.
Some stand up and fight for a better life, others take
their fight out into the streets without realising that
what they believe is their strength is actually their
And how was it working with
It was great. Right from day one he was like an elder
brother to me. After "pack-up" we'd go out together
in the evenings. He often helped me with my dialogues
and at times even told me how I should go about doing
a scene. Also, while dubbing for the film, he helped
me tone my voice, so as to sound more real. It was a
wonderful experience to work with everyone on the set--Antara,
Akash Khurana, Manisha and even Mohanlal.
Why did u decide to be an actor?
Was it because your father is also an actor?
Any child, at the end of the day, wants to be like his
parents. I admire my father. But my decision to step
into cinema was not because… "My father was an actor
so let me also get into it"… but because of my love
of acting. It actually started when I was six. In the
school play I did so well that my father send me to
theatre workshop in London. After graduation I enrolled
myself to an acting school in London. I remember after
having completed the course successfully, we were told
to do some auditions. I was given a long sheet of dialogues
to say. After reading it, I enacted it out in my own
style, it was kind of mono act. I was not aware that
someone watching me. He was none other than director
of New York University. He took me to New York. And
I did my post graduation in acting from there.
How does your father view your
He is happy of course but very hassled as I make him
attend to all the dirty work, you know the dates, producers
grievances, etc and I sit in judgement when it comes
to story sessions and scripts. I am damn lucky to have
someone like him for a father.
What are other films that you
is Shaad Ali's "Saathiya", which is co-produced by Yash
Chopra and Mani Ratnam. Then I'm doing Rajat Mukherjee's
"Road" with Manoj Bajpai and Antara Mali. There is also
Dum with Diya Mirza, which is directed by E Niwas. After
that there is Vinod Chopra's film and directed by Raju
Virani. I'm doing a film being produced by Farhan and
Ritesh Sidwani which his sister Zoya is directing. There's
another film, which Farhan is directing himself. I haven't
committed to that project yet, Farhan's still working
on the script with his father.So, I'm pretty booked
until the end of 2002.
us something about Saathiya? Isn't it a remake of Alai
Payuthe that turned Madhavan into a sensation down South?
is a remake of Alai Payuthe. The soul and spirit is
the same but Gulzar sahab has rewritten the entire script,
given it a more North Indian feel. The film is being
directed by Shaad Ali, he's Muzaffar Ali's son. Shaad's
conceived the film in his own way so while Sathiya and
Alai Payuthe are the same film Saathiya has its own
identity. You won't recognise in it many moments of
Alai Payuthe. It's a love story revolving around Rani
Mukherjee and me.
Do you think you would be able
to put in the same preparation for future roles?
that it would be difficult to do that kind of work for
all my roles. But, if the role is as challenging as
the one in Company, I would prefer to be prepared. My
second film Saathiya, which is being directed by Shaad
Ali, didn't need a lot of work, because I closely identify
with the setting and the personality of my character.
But it would be unfair to say that Saathiya is an easier
film compared to Company.