Vivek Oberoi on memes, the PM Narendra Modi biopic and why he will never be a politician
Vivek Oberoi has emerged as Bollywood’s favourite controversy child. The actor whose innocuous decisions at times have misfired, was once again in the middle of a controversy earlier this week, when he tweeted a meme featuring his co-actor Aishwarya Rai Bachchan. The virtual drama on Twitter lasted less than 24 hours. Vivek’s tweet invited trolls from across the globe who criticised the actor for his insensitive comment. Even Bollywood diva Sonam Kapoor replied saying it was ‘disgusting and classless’, and the National Commission for Women served a legal notice. However, the actor apologised and tweeted saying, “Sometimes what appears to be funny and harmless at first glance to one, may not be so to others. Even if one woman is offended by my reply to the meme, it calls for remedial action. Apologies tweet deleted (sic).” Though it appeared that the chapter would close with his apology, the issue continued to gather steam for a while.
Just two days prior to this controversy, when we met Vivek in Bengaluru — the actor had flown down to the city to seek the blessings of Sri Sri Ravi Shankar for the release of his film, PM Narendra Modi — he was in a happy mood. “I love memes I find them really entertaining, I don’t take myself seriously. I think the worst thing an artiste can do is to take himself seriously. The minute you do that, it’s the first step towards ego and where there’s ego, there’s no art. Criticism is a must, whether you are a neta (leader) or abhineta (an actor). That’s what democracy of choice is —you like or you don’t like. You buy the ticket and watch me, you accept me or abuse me, whatever the case, there’s no problem. It’s either taali (applause) or gaali (abuse), you accept it. I enjoy it and sometimes I even acknowledge it. What I don’t care for much is the senseless screaming and abusive language. I ignore it, that’s the one thing I have learned from my experience playing Modi,” Vivek shared when the topic of trolls came up. Things, however, took an ugly turn since this interview.
The prime movie
But the actor’s spirit wasn’t dampened as he continued to promote his film PM Narendra Modi that ’s slated for release today in 40 countries. Vivek revealed that the pre-production took a really long time and it was because of precise research that a film on this large scale was shot in 38 days without any reshoots. “Nothing was done in a hurry, we did everything efficiently. There was no reshoot or patchwork. I was part of the scripting process and I co-wrote the film,” said the actor. Vivek was keen to do this film because he thought the PM’s life story was inspirational. But when the news broke about him playing the titular role, people wondered about the choice of the actor who has absolutely no similarities to the PM when it came to physical appearance. However, Vivek surprised his fans and people of India with the first look of the film.
Talking about it, the actor revealed, “The first test took about nine hours, but it was after 15 trials that we achieved the look. When we were shooting, it took five to six hours to put on the makeup every single day.” While the actor might have had a rough phase earlier this week, he is looking forward to his other acting assignments. Vivek starts shooting for the Season Three of Inside Edge from today.
Between all of this, when we asked if we would see Vivek as a politician, the actor signed off saying, “I feel all of us need to be a part of the political discourse. Having an opinion and expressing it is imperative, those who don’t do it come from a place of fear, they are scared of retribution. Since 2004, I have been offered MP tickets, but my answer has been no, because I can’t toe the party line. I always say, thank you, but no, thank you to the offers!”