“I get into my characters by letting them get into me” – Vivek Oberoi

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You have seen him in the dramatic, the comedic, the action, and the romantic avatar, he has played a gangster or two, an adventurer, a commando and of course a man in love. (Much to the delight of his fans!) With each performance, Vivek Oberoi embodies his character completely, and brings a complexity to each character he portrays. No matter what the film, you truly believe he IS whom he is playing. He is considered one of the best actors in Bollywood, and with each new performance he reinforces that honor. Vivek has been working hard and has some exciting projects coming up, including Prince – It’s Showtime, Rensil D’Silva’s next film, and the recently signed Rakta Charitra directed by Ram Gopal Varma. Recently he took time out of his holiday to answer a few questions and tell us a bit about his upcoming films plus other filmi things!

Do you still get the same thrill at being an actor as you did when you first went on stage as young child?

ABSOLUTELY!!! In fact, the first day of shooting for a new film drives me nuts with anticipation! I can barely ever sleep the night before the first day of a shoot; it’s a crazy cocktail of nervousness and excitement! It’s like the night before a major exam … but only a lot more fun.

How do you get into the skin of your characters? Do you use your look to help you define the character you will be playing?

I get into my characters by letting them get into me. Once I’ve worked on a character graph and have written a biographical sketch for my character, I start working on the look, the demeanor, the walk and the rhythm of the character, all the physical attributes. In fact, I drive my friends and family crazy sometimes because I’ll be so involved and constantly thinking of my character that I forget everything else around me and get into big trouble with them.

What makes a good actor?

Hunger … I think if the fire in your belly burns it shines through your eyes in your portrayals. Complacency is an actor’s worst enemy.

What do you think is your greatest gift as an actor? What about your greatest weakness, and how do you work to improve it?

Opportunity … I have met many fine actors who are much more talented than I am but just never got the right opportunity. Ramuji giving me that opportunity to prove myself in Company was the greatest gift. My greatest weakness was to take that opportunity for granted once success arrived … I have lost and I have learned. Today I value it; every-time someone praises my work I thank god for the talent and the opportunity he bestowed upon me … without that I would be nothing … and I pray to him to never let success go to my head again.

What do you think has been your best performance so far?

I’ve been fortunate to have a few good ones but because it was my very first, Company will always be extra special to me.

Has there been any film or performance of yours that has disappointed you?

Ha ha … too many to mention and way too embarrassing to enlist! I’ve done my share of bad work and it serves me well as a BIG FLASHING WARNING sign to keep myself focused and strive to constantly get better.

What makes a good director?

Clarity. A film belongs entirely to its director. As long as he has clarity in his vision and knows beyond doubt how he sees the film, he will succeed in guiding the actors in the correct direction.

How do you decide on which projects to accept?

Many factors play a part but most importantly, it’s the script and the role I play within it.

What can you tell us about Prince?

Prince is an absolute roller coaster ride! It’s a very cool, mysterious film with absolutely amazing action. It’s twists and turns should have people on the edge of their seats with excitement. I’m extremely happy with whatever I’ve seen of it on the edit table … fingers crossed!

What can you tell us about the new Rensil D’Silva movie? What is your character?

I play the character of Riyaaz Masud, a second generation American Muslim in a riveting story that captures the lives of a set of people caught up in an unpredictable world and overwhelming circumstances. Rensil, as we all know, is a fantastic writer, but now we also know he’s an equally amazing director. I think he will make a huge impact with this film.

How was it working with Kareena and Saif?

Kareena has always been my favourite to work with and we get along like a house on fire! But working on this film, I’ve got to know Saif a lot more: he’s awesome fun! We really had a great time working together; he’s truly a great guy and I’m so happy for the both of them, they’re so good together! They’re my favourite couple and I wish them all the happiness in the world!

Philadelphia, New York, Delhi, and Mumbai … which one did you enjoy filming in the most, and why?

New York has always been so special to me, I studied and lived there for a while …. so it was great to reconnect with the city, with the nostalgia of the old and the excitement of the new!

What can we expect from Rakta Charitra? What has been involved in your prep for Ravi?

The reason it’s taken me forever to do this interview is that I’m now immersed completely in my prep for Ravi and loving every moment of it! It is by far the most interesting, layered and challenging role of my career!

Fans love you in the romantic avatar. Do you have any immediate plans to make a film with a love story?

Yes, I’ve been getting tons of mail from my female fans demanding for me to do a Saathiya type love story. Most of them will be very happy to see Prince.

You have written scripts. Do you ever see yourself writing and directing a script of your own? What would it be about?

I think it would be about an actor going insane because he tried to write and direct a film. It takes way too much patience and is way too painstaking for me to even entertain the thought. Let me do justice to an acting career first.

Dancing is also one of your many strengths. What has been your favorite dance sequence?

I love dancing! It makes me happy, it makes me kinda high! I’ve really enjoyed doing so many fun and challenging songs but I think ‘Beedi’, ‘Ganpat’ and ‘Pyaar Main Sau Uljhane’ from Kyun ho Gaya Na were the most fun to do. I’m very excited about the songs we’ve shot for Prince!

Are there any directors you want to work with in future? What about co-stars?

I love working with passionate professionals and we’re fortunate to have so many in our fraternity. My wish list of directors is a long, long, loooong one … like I’ve always said … I’m a very greedy and hungry actor.

Where do you see Hindi cinema going in the future?

The future is definitely global. The world has warmed up to Bollywood and is fascinated like never before. Barring the recession, these are great times for our industry.

How as Bollywood changed since you began in the industry, and how have you changed?

I think Bollywood and I are both maturing with time … and I hope we’re both getting better and better.

The media has sometimes been quite hostile towards you. How did you cope with the negativity?

Life offers us only two options: either to change something we cannot accept, or to accept all that we cannot change. At times it has been difficult; very cutting, painful and unfair … but it has made my spirit stronger and my will more resolute. The harder you push me down, the higher I will bounce back.

What is the most important thing to you in life? What inspires you?

The indomitable human spirit. I recently met a man on Farah Khan’s talk show, who lost both his legs in a train accident. Instead of letting depression and negativity get the better of him, he fought back. Today he is a shining example of how strong the human spirit is. I am his fan now and have decided to work with him to help 100 handicap victims by donating them ‘jaipur legs’, a very successful prosthetic solution, every year on my birthday. I want them to be able to dance with me and celebrate life in this true manner.

What do you do in your spare time?

Holiday all around the world! I am a total gypsy … I love trotting all over the globe … finding and exploring different places, intriguing cultures and ways of life. I am also a fanatical about adventure and water sports!

Tell us about your charity work.

There is so much good work to be done, let’s not waste time discussing what we’ve already achieved….
Many smiles to put on faces that weep,
Many miles to go before I sleep!

Do you have a message to your fans?

I love you guys. I’m sure every actor says this almost like a dialogue in a film … but truly … I love my fans! I love them for how special they make me feel, for how much faith and belief they have in me. They are the ones I want to do great work for; I want to make them proud of me … so proud!

I would like to thank Vivek for taking the time on his holiday to answer my questions! He truly is one of the good guys! As for when Vivek fans (I must admit I am one of the many!) can get their rock-star fix, first up is Prince – It’s Showtime, which is scheduled to release on December 11th. The Rensil D’Silva film is scheduled for a November release according to Dharma Production’s website but no definite release date so we will have to wait and watch for that one! We here at BollySpice look forward to these films, of course for Rakta Charitra and for all his great performances to come! We wish Vivek all the best!

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