We first talked to Omi Vaidya right after his huge debut in the blockbuster film 3 Idiots. His performance as Chatur brought the house down and was given rave reviews by everyone! About the response to his performance, he told us, “I was just hoping someone would recognize me as a good addition to a film with all these huge actors, but I totally wasn’t expecting this.” Well, not only fans but also some high profile directors recognized him as a good addition and came knocking on his door. One of those directors was Madhur Bhandarkar, who cast him in Dil Toh Baccha Hai Ji, which also stars Ajay Devgn and Emraan Hashmi. Omi plays Milind, the one looking for true love in this slice of life romantic comedy. This is the first time Omi has been in a romantic film and the object of his affection is Shraddha Das. Besides DTBHJ, Abbas-Mustan also came a-calling and Omi is currently shooting for their remake of the action film The Italian Job – Players. This one has a big star cast as well, including Abhishek Bachchan, Neil Nitin Mukesh, Sonam Kapoor and more! We caught up with Omi and he talked with us about working with all-star casts in both films, about his first action scene and what he loves about working in Bollywood!
You have chosen two totally different films, what goes into your choices of roles?
I don’t look at it as choosing roles. It’s characters I choose. Characters that are three dimensional and engaging. I am also keen to play roles I haven’t played yet. So for me, sequels are less interesting than original films.
Did you think you would get these opportunities?
A few years ago, if you had suggested that I might do a Bollywood film, I probably would have said, ‘Not in a million years!’ Because I was born and grew up in America with very little knowledge of Hindi or it’s film industry, I could never even fathom I would even venture into Bollywood. But after a lot of hard work, a little luck and destiny, all that has changed.
Dil Toh Baccha Hai Ji
How did you land the role for DTBHJ?
I loved Madhur Bhandarkar’s Chandni Bar when I saw it years ago as a teen. I knew that this director was something special even though I was quite unfamiliar with Bollywood. So now when Madhur-ji approached me with this role in his new film, I jumped at the chance to do it. Something challenging and meaningful. What more could I ask for?
What can you tell us about the story?
Dil Toh Baccha Hai Ji is about three men in different stages and ages of their lives looking for love. Ajay is a divorced professional, Emraan, a 30-year-old swinger type and I, an idealistic lover. The story is about how each of us falls in love with a different girl, and how love treats us back in return.
Tell us about your character.
Milind Kelkar, 28, is a Maharastrian Indian who is in love with Hindi/Urdu poetry and is looking for true love. This is ironic because he works in a matrimonial office setting up arranged loveless marriages. When Milind meets Gungun Sarkar he falls in love and sets on a mission to make her fall in love with him. But things always don’t according to plan….
How was it working with Madhur Bhandarkar?
Almost everyone was joking on set especially Madhur-ji. Although he’s known for serious films, the tone on set is relaxed and we’re always laughing from his jokes or delivery.
Did you have to work on your Hindi? Did you have to change your diction?
Yes, absolutely, I had to work very hard on my Hindi, because unlike Chatur in 3 Idiots, I was playing a Maharastrian born in Pune who wouldn’t have an NRI accent at all. In addition to daily two hour-long Hindi lessons during and between shoots, I also spent more time in postproduction dubbing the dialogue to change remove any traces of the accent.
How was it working with Ajay Devgn and Emraan Hashmi?
It was great to work with these two stalwarts of the industry. Ajay and Emraan are nice and decent people and it was a pleasure working with them. I’d definitely do it again.
Did they help you in any way?
There were times, when I had trouble with lines or could not get a scene down pat, and in those times, you hope your co-star will have the patience to deal with you. Both Ajay and Emraan were more than patient with me and even helped me when I was mispronouncing something or flubbing a line.
How was it working opposite Shraddha Das as your love interest?
It was my first time, working with a love interest and I was nervous. But Shraddha was a very nice person and it was with ease that we completed our scenes. With all the Tamil hit films she’s acted in, Shraddha is a veteran actress and worked very hard to get her character right. I think the audience will see this when the film releases.
What was your favorite part about playing this role?
My favorite part was that I got to speak Marathi. I speak Marathi at home, albeit, a rudimentary version, but nonetheless, I have an attachment with the language and performing in my mother tongue was always a wish of mine.
What made you decide to take the role in Players?
I am a fan of Abbas Mustan films and their professional style of working in the industry. I was also looking for another avatar than was different than 3 idiots and Dil Toh Bachcha Hai Ji. When they offered me a smart-ass Punjabi character in a film called Players, I knew it would be a challenge for me, so that’s when I knew I just had to do it.
How was it working in a completely commercial film?
It’s better and worse. Better because the production is well funded, which means the hotels, travel, and process is all in tip-top and as comfortable as possible. I also am hanging out with other movie stars so the treatment from crew to fans is pretty amazing.
How is it different from the Hollywood version – The Italian Job?
Well, if anyone knows Abbas Mustan’s films, they have many more twists, turns, and shocks than a Hollywood action flick. So get ready for Italian Job to the next degree, it’s called Players.
Your taking on Seth Green’s character from the 2003 Hollywood film. How is your role and performance going to be different?
Well, my character is a brown Indian guy, so that’s pretty different. On top of that, he’s not a computer tech and has a completely new talent/trade than in the original. He’s also got a Punjabi twist to him which should be interesting. It will be fun to see how different he is from the original.
How is it working as part of a star cast?
I thought it was going to suck because everybody could be a big shot and in their own world. But not the case! Everyone hangs out together!! They all want to be friends, play games, go to the gym, and tell jokes. Everybody is a character and it makes it so fun. We have a ball on set. We’re always laughing except when we’re shooting.
Do you feel your character will get lost amidst the star cast?
I don’t think so. Because the film relies on serious characters, plot, tension and dramatic twists, a comedic moment here and there is not only necessary, but could become a memorable one. Take 3 Idiots for example.
How is it working with Abbas Mustan?
It’s a treat to working with them. They are two of the most professional directors in India. Everything is on time and everyone is kept very, very happy. They are soft-spoken, sincere and I feel very comfortable with them.
On Twitter Neil and Abhishek were praising the first schedule, how did you feel it went?
I was also surprised how smooth it all went. This might just turn out to be a great film. Let’s see…. so much more to shoot!!
Also on Twitter I saw you were talking about your first action scene…can you tell us about it? Were you nervous?
I was nervous. I’m not athletic nor an action star. I have very little training and I’m more comfortable as a couch surfer than an actual surfer. My scene was to chase after Neil as Sikhandar and I run from fishing boat to fishing boat after him. It was wet, fishy, slimy and dangerous. I slipped once but luckily didn’t get hurt. It was one of the hardest days I’ve worked on set. Acting like an action star is very hard.
What do you love about working in the Bollywood film industry?
The people. I love talking to all of the people on set. Since production teams are sometimes a hundred or more in total, you meet a multitude of people on set and it’s great to have a chat with them. Everyone has such rich stories and backgrounds. I don’t get that chance in Hollywood films.
When will we see you in a solo film?
I want to get pretty good with Hindi before I take a whole film on my shoulders. I am also figuring out what I’m good at and what the audience wants to see me in. I think by next year I should be ready for a duo or solo role.
What is coming from you in the future?
A lot. Dil Toh Baccha Hai Ji is releasing in this week and Players will be out at the end of the year or so. I have a guest role in a big commercial film and in talks for roles in a few films. More than that I can’t or won’t say?……:)
We can’t wait to see both avatars from Omi and are sure that once again he will be a fabulous addition to the films. You can catch him in his first pyaar kahani when Dil Toh Baccha Hai Ji opens on Friday, the 28th! Oh and Omi, we will be back to find out what’s next! We wish you all the best.