Omi Vaidya is changing it up again and this time he is going really out of his comfort zone for his role in Jodi Breakers. The comedy film, which opens today, stars R. Madhavan and Bipasha Basu, with Omi bringing in the funny as one of Madhavan’s friends. This role was a stretch for the actor because he is someone totally opposite to who he is, his character is totally into how he looks and wants to get girls kind of guy, but because of that it made him really want to play that part. Like all roles, Omi looks for what he can relate to and then totally becomes that character. In fact, so much so that sometimes he doesn’t even remember what he did in the scenes and many times is surprised when he is dubbing for the film. From what we have seen so far this is going to be the funniest we have seen him yet, if you can imagine that. While on a mini-break in LA, we caught up with the actor and talked all things Jodi Breakers, the film that he thinks has all the perfect components to make a really enjoyable film!
Tell us how you came about your role in Jodi Breakers.
Madhavan and I have the same manager. Basically Madhavan was talking to these producers about Jodi Breakers and they came up with the script and story and all of that. This was summer of 2010 so quite a long time ago. There was this sort of a side friend, who’s sort of crazy and out there and fun. They thought that I would be good for that character. When I read script, at least what the script was then, I thought it was a really nice role because the character speaks to the camera; he’s sort of the narrator of the film. He’s also quite different than any of my other characters. He’s a womanizer; he’s always trying to take advantage of certain women basically older women or divorced women. He’s shameless. He’s a metro sexual in that he cares about the way he looks and dresses. He owns a bar. So he’s quite particular, unlike my other characters who are nerdy or silly/goofy. I definitely wanted to play him. They did a rewrite on the script and I guess they had me in mind from the start doing things that they wanted. So for example you see in the trailer there’s a lecture by a Guru. I am playing that role as part of one of a jodi breaking schemes. I have to give these women a lecture on how to be a happy woman in life and that pertains to sex and happiness with your man and all these odd things that you put with the guru. It’s supposed to be quite a normal scene but some issue happens and it makes it all really fun and crazy. It’s sort of a return to 3 Idiots in that way where the expectation of giving a speech and having it really funny will be delivered. You know people will be satisfied by that but at the same time the character is quite different and endearing in his own way even though he is sort of nasty and crazy and not your most moralistic character.
When we talked last time, you said you always try and find the motivation of the character for why he acts the way he does. What did you find for this guy?
Yeah, that’s true. Good question! I tend to base characters that I am not more like by trying to find sort of inspirations for them. So this guy’s good looking and he cares the way he looks, it’s very important. I started working out for this movie and my trainer is quite vain at times and he’s extremely strong and he cares about the way he looks all the time. He’s always telling me about I’m going out with this girl or this girl. It was a very interesting. I mean he’s a nice guy and everything,in but he had those assets that I didn’t so I tried to base it of him. Everyone’s motivation in life is to be liked and be happy. So this character’s motivation came out in the way he looked and the way that people thought of him and he thought he had to be sort of cool for that to happen and then he would get some sort of happiness. There’s this extra layer also because he is a friend of Madhavan’s character in the end he really wants Madhavan to be happy even though Madhavan isn’t a bachelor anymore. In the end of Bollywood movies they always come together… of course (Laughs). So there had to be a sort of a cognizance there, that even though he’s completely happy about being single and going around with many, many women he knows his friend would be happier with someone. I think he even knows that he would be happier with someone else, but he really doesn’t know how to find that. He has no idea. So for now at least, he gets some satisfaction or an idea of satisfaction from dating all these sort of aunties and getting around with women and looking cool and dressing up and showing off and showing off to the camera. He’s very cocky and he talks to the audience as if he’s sort of like the secret friend and he bets with the audience and he bets the way that he thinks the story is going to go. So it’s a nice interesting role. He takes things pretty relaxed and is never very dramatic. I thought that was a good way for me to do the role. It is kind of interesting, even though I am quite different from a womanizer and a guy that goes around with so many girls and cares about the way he looks constantly, even though we are so different and miles apart probably – we both want the same thing – happiness. Once you find that relation with someone, that you both want to same thing you are just going about it a different way then you just change the logic in your head and it becomes you.
How did you get yourself into the mind frame to play that character and those aspects? You really had to put yourself completely out there. Like that scene, standing there in the sheet…
You know you just have to do it. It’s like jumping off a cliff or something. It’s like your brain is saying: Don’t do it. This is bad for you. What are you doing? You’re gonna be the naked guy. What would your wife think… But it’s not you at that moment – it is doing that role at that moment – that’s what you have to do. So I had a bed scene in this film as well and that’s extremely uncomfortable. A stranger, being shirtless or whatever and sort of insinuating that we’re fooling around or just finished fooling around. It’s extremely hot and everybody is videotaping you and you are thinking…what kind of movie is this!! You know? Yeah, so you get a little bit uncomfortable, but then you have to ground yourself and remember this isn’t about me. This is about a character and this is about a story and this is what I’m doing. All of the judgment needs to be removed in that moment of what this is because you can’t constantly judge your characters – that’s the audiences job really, to judge your character. It’s not your job. Your job is to portray your character and for you he needs to be an extremely, awesome character because you’re him. Unless you’re a self-loathing person in the film, which he is not. He really enjoys himself and takes pride in his successes whether they are with women or what. He would be showing off to the camera. He wouldn’t be scared. And being an actor and being the guy that had been made fun of in high school or been the guy who’s always been different really helps in that situation because I’ve lived a whole life of never really fitting in. So then when I have to do it for film and be unashamed it is quite easy. I do it all the time. In India I’m always playing someone a little bit different even off-screen and you know I’m a sort-of this Bollywood star or whatever and it’s a suit that’s ill fitting for me but I still try to just pull it off, you know?
This is a different kind of comedy would you say?
The character in this film is different but it’s a fun comedy. Like I’d say 3 Idiots was like classic and mine was the comedic foil in that sort of film, but it had everything. Then we had Dil Toh Baccha Hai Ji which is a more realistic film and the comedy is more in its subtleties, but it can called a dramedy and then we had just a small role in Desi Boyz, which was sort of over the top and funny. Then Players, it was more again a comedic foil in an action film, which is a little different because it’s so limited – the comedy has to be very limited. Then in this film it’s just an all around fun romantic comedy. Even though the theme is very untypical of Bollywood of breaking jodis, the format is very, very close to a Bollywood sort of film where you have the drama and you have to romance and you know what’s going to happen at the end but how it all happens, how it all comes out is unknown. There’s always the different players and characters. You know you have Helen-ji who is a very interesting factor in the film and then you have Dipinita, you have Milind Soman and we don’t know how they all play into the story of the film. Madhavan has an ex-wife in the film, she comes back. It gets quite complicated. For people that like drama there’s quite a lot of investment and then at the same time you have all these kooky sort of Jodi Breakers scenes were they have to come up with scenes so that these characters can break up. And some of them can be quite wild and funny and comical at times. So it’s a nice film in that way.
Tell us about working with Bipasha. I know you two had bonded on the sets of Players.
Yeah, me and Bipasha get along really well because I think both of us aren’t from the industry to begin with. We were both sort of outsiders and in some ways I think she still is an outsider. She’s extremely successful, but she doesn’t really fit into like a certain clique. I mean certain actors only work with certain actors. They do films with certain male leads and you know they have a lot of cliques in Bollywood. So I feel like Bipasha has gone around and worked on her talent and body and made herself sort of a big image based on all of that and none of it has to do with her real life. She is quite down to earth. I make fun of everyone on set and I always try to joke with them, say little comments behind their back just to see if they hear me or if they have the ability to laugh at themselves. Because I laugh at myself. I am very self-deprecating myself. She’s a great sport and you can only do that if you have very good confidence in yourself. She enjoys that and unlike I guess other actors who tend to stay away or stay in their own vanity van and live their separate lives and then they only come on set and then talk and chat – I get extremely bored on set so I am constantly talking to everybody and I will knock on your door and say hey wassup and come in. With Bipasha it’s like a regular day. Usually I go up to her room and knock and if she’s not dressing, which is a lot of time because she’s always changing clothes/costumes, but if she’s not doing that then I come in and we talk about the daily gossip and whatever is going on. She’s always constantly in the papers, mostly some fake stories, but there is always something going on so there is always something interesting. Since I am so removed and I don’t really care I can just make these sort of snide comments and she’ll laugh. I think it helps her to also remove herself from it, you know, because you can get worked up about when you’re in the bubble and everyone’s talking about you it’s difficult to remove yourself. So when you see other friends and they say that it doesn’t matter and they make a joke about it, it sort of relieves that tension a little bit. At the same time I don’t care about any of that stuff. I don’t judge anyone. I really just don’t care about any of the sort of rumors or gossip that goes on so there is no fear of telling me anything or me telling anyone anything. I have the same relationship with Abhishek. I used to go into his place and chat. I mean l have learnt so much about Bollywood in that way. They’ve been teaching me about who is who and just how it all works and it’s quite interesting for me as well. So in that way I am not a threat to anyone. Does that make sense? [Yeah it does] And when I am not a threat to anyone then they are complete free to be themselves and they don’t have to put on an image of ‘Oh! I am a star!’ because I’m just going to break that down and make fun of them if they do that. They realize that this guy doesn’t think I’m a star, could care less that I’m a star so he has possibly not watched half or any of my movies. So I don’t need to be anyone but just the person I am. So we just talk about all kinds of things. We are just having a good time and joking around. I think that is why I can just be around and hang out with them. There is no stress. Honestly I forget half of the things they tell me. (Laughs) That’s probably a good thing.
Talk to us about working with Madhavan
Madhavan’s great. I mean he’s just a very charismatic guy in general. He’s great fun and happy and he’s always smiling. It’s kind of funny because people don’t realize that he’s 43 or something and he’s got this sort of young man look. He’s got a son who is 6. But, yeah so like his image of what he is sort of the young sweetheart boy and who he actually is, is quite different. I mean they both are charismatic and enjoyable people but he’s like a father and he’s missing his son all the time and he wants to have the home life and enjoy that life with his wife and that’s so nice. There are all these guys that are like I wanna be a hero and I wanna be like the things that all women think about you know, who knows what that is. He’s just a very relaxed kind of dude and I feel like that’s probably why he’s been able to stay in the industry and maintain his place in the industry. He’s a lot more grounded in what he wants and he picks stories based on their value and merit and not based on what they’ll do for him.
And acting opposite him?
Oh he’s great. It’s so funny but he speaks Hindi really fast. He was nominated for Star Screen Awards for Tanu Weds Manu. And I just found out that in I think in high school he failed Hindi, which is kind of funny. So it’s really funny that he’s getting awards now. But he speaks really fast and like I’m not such a fast speaker. I’m only in my second year of studies, 5th-6th standard of Hindi. And you know there are other actors and they’ll speak fast – they’ll be like blah blah blah… blah blah blah…and now its my line and I’m like blah…blah…blah…blah. So I’ve got to say my lines so fast because he speaks so fast. The director was like you have to say your lines faster. When we were dubbing they’re like Madhavan makes so many grammatical errors when he’s speaking. I’m like really? I can’t even tell – he speaks so fast. He’s like yeah he’s always messing up and we have to redo the changes at dubbing. He is all over the place. He does a lot of improv: like he’ll learn the line and then he’ll just do the gist of the line. I wish I could do that because it would be really open me up to so much more because it gives the dialogue a freeness. It’s very relaxed when he’s talking and it can just be visceral but at the same time I think there are grammatical mistakes that they can fix. But it’s kind of funny because I am known for doing mistakes in Hindi but I actually feel like nobody hears it but everybody is making some mistakes, it’s just everybody is paying attention to me because I am known for it. (Laughs)
Is it hard to act that way since Hindi is not your language? It would seem to open you up if you could improv…
It is difficult. There are limitations. I will learn a line and I’ll do it and they will change a line and then either I have to really master that line or if I don’t get a chance too it can affect the acting because then my mind is on the words I am supposed to say. At times it can be difficult because I should be in the character but instead I am just trying to get the words right. Then at other times with certain comedic scenes or side scenes that might or might not possibly make it into the film we are just trying to have a good time when they cut away. We know there is a main scene going on but they have done a close up or something and people will say dialogs and I’ll say dialogs and we will just have some fun. But there are times when someone will say something on the fly and if it was English I would have an excellent answer, but because it is in Hindi my mind has to think about what I am going to say and then I have to word it in my brain and then say it or say it badly in some sort of ungrammatical thing, but the time that it takes to do that, the joke is already gone you know what I mean? The time has passed. There are opportunities where I could definitely add if I had the improv skills in Hindi. Or you know if I wanted to change a line beforehand I will have to think about it and I tend not to because I don’t want to screw up the dialogs or mess it up. Sometimes I do try and in those situations I have to make sure that the grammar is right before I say the line otherwise I just say na na forget it, it is fine. I think I would take more risks and do a little more if I did have a better understanding of the sort of more advanced things that I am now learning in Hindi. It is difficult. It is as rich a language as it is in English. I keep learning and I keep talking and it always feels like it is too little.
What do you think audiences are going to love about Jodi Breakers?
It is a really fun movie. This year so far there hasn’t really been a fun movie yet. Agneepath we definitely got our drama. We have had a lot of action films including mine Players since December. But sort of a romantic fun film where you can just go there and not have to think too much about what the plot is about and you can just laugh and have fun and actually care about the characters I feel like we are still missing that. I hope that Jodi Breakers will give that. You know they worked on the script for a year before they shot and that is kind of rare in Bollywood. They usually write it as they go along. The songs were done a year before as well. They knew exactly what they had and they had all the components before they even took that first shot. Then they got quite honest and sincere people on board: the director, the cinematographer, and the producer. I really feel like everybody has got something at stake here unlike other big directors I have worked for that can fall back on their earlier work this is the director’s first really big commercial film, so it has to work for him. The writer, who is 23, he has done other films but this is his big claim to fame and the distributor also he is making his first film. They all have something deeply invested and that makes for some good quality work I feel. Everybody, including me, Bipasha and Madhavan we all get along really well and we really enjoy each other’s company and we had a great time on set and things came out really well. When I did my dubbing I saw my scenes and they all feel really funny and fun and sort of different. There is a lot of drama in the film and when I come in and punch in with my comedy and my well wild factor, yeah let’s call it the wild factor… it works. I don’t know what I am going to do half of the time. They brought me here because they feel I am going to bring something unable to be written to the script and I feel like I should come to the set like that. You know when I finish a scene I have very little memory of what I did and when I am doing my dubbing I say Oh I don’t remember doing that. Oh did I do that? Wow, that was nice. Even when we are dubbing and you can’t see my face I am constantly talking and some of them are awful and should be thrown in the trash and some of them are golden. The thing is I am constantly trying to add more layers to this character so that you don’t have a chance to think about is he doing well, you are just laughing and enjoying him. I feel like there is some really good comedy in the film, there is some great situational comedy that they put the characters in. Even though it does have that sort of Bollywood gloss and everything looks good, there are quite realistic characters. Madhavan is not a flawless human being and they have even dressed him down a bit. Their idea was to dress him like Ross from Friends. And even though Bipasha is a gorgeous woman and she does that item number, her character is pretty down to earth. We really have all these regular characters so I feel like in a way it can be relatable to many, many people. It is not your sort of over glossy Bollywood film with no meaning. I think they have all the parts to make a good, watchable, enjoyable film and I hopefully added some good barrel laughs to that. Hopefully people will say ‘Oh it was good. It was really enjoyable. We had a really good time and Omi he made us laugh a lot. You should go watch it for all of these reasons’. I think it has the whole package. I feel really good about this one. I think it has a very, very good chance of doing well and I really think people will enjoy it!
You have directed before, do you see yourself doing that again and in Hindi films?
I do. It is always this sort of itch in the back of my head. Acting is very based on the characters you get and you are limited by what you have. There is only so much you can do. But as a director, yeah the stress level is huge, but you are sort of the mastermind and you are the secret player in the game. You are not a pawn, you are not a King, you are not the Queen, you are the guy who moves all the pieces. In the end of course all the fault and the blame but all the credit will go to you, but more than all of that it is extremely challenging. I really love challenging things. I love when I don’t have time to think and I don’t have time to eat even because I am so busy. I get those feelings when I am directing. When you direct something and you see it in the editing room and you see your thoughts come to life it is extremely exciting and extremely satisfying. I would definitely like to do that. I have written some scripts and I pushing them in India. Hopefully someone will take a bite and I will make a small film to begin with but it definitely will be something exciting and something entertaining.
So what is next for you acting wise?
I signed on for a movie called Satte Pe Satta, the remake. But there have been some delays so we haven’t started that yet. Then I am working on my own scripts to as start directing hopefully, maybe, hopefully at the end of the year this year. There are other projects and offers but I can’t really say anything about those yet, but there are fun things coming my way. I have done like five films now so I have to figure out now what I want to do next really rather than what Bollywood wants me to do next. I want to do things are a little uncomfortable for me and to do those sort of things you have to sort of wait around and pick properly. I want to challenge myself.