Bollywood actor Vivek Oberoi, who made his Bollywood debut with Company in 2002, will clock in two decades in the film business next year.
Oberoi being among the first Bollywood actors to jump onto the OTT bandwagon to becoming a producer and an entrepreneur, Vivek has donned many hats. In a chat with a news portal, the actor talks about the lessons his journey has taught him, his thoughts on digital space and the road ahead. Excerpts:
In April next year, your first film Company will complete 20 years of its release. If one accounts for the time you spent being an assistant on different sets, you’re probably gearing up for your silver jubilee in the film industry. Does that make you feel like a senior in the industry?
(Laughs!) No... actually, I only sense the experience here. On a serious note, we were the generation of transition. When I became an AD (assistant director) and eventually, an actor, dialogues used to be written on the set on a fresh sheet of paper by the writers and ADs had to make copies of these sheets physically — so not only did one have to be a fast writer, but also good with Hindi.
From that to this new phase in the last few years, where we increasingly have bound scripts, things have come a long way. Back in the day, power was also concentrated in the hands of a few. I was part of a generation that saw that change where people with talent began to soar. The lobbies I had seen then have now, somewhat, vanished. It has happened gradually.
What do you think led to that?
Newer talent and content came in. And with the advent of OTT platforms, the playfield became even more democratic. We are in times where one solid performance could turn you into a star, like Pratik Gandhi. Another observation of mine is that people have gone from using professionalism as a word to actually practising it. Earlier, seniors would arrive fashionably late and charm us with smiles. What one never understood was why was that okay? The younger lot today is incredible. They’re enthusiastic and are ready to rehearse and put in extra effort. Yes, the industry was like a family then, but it is not always good to be a part of every family dynamic. Lopsided dynamics didn’t ever work for me where outsiders remained outside and the insiders remained indoors.
You were among the first actors in the industry to be a part of a web show. Today most actors are keen to be in the digital space. The fact that you were in that space early on, did it prove to be an advantage?
I have always tried to be the first mover and it has paid off sooner or later. I turned down a traditional launch in films by my father (Suresh Oberoi). I struggled to land a role in Ram Gopal Varma’s Company. I got it on my merit and hard work. When people thought that’s all I could do, I worked on Saathiya and then explored a space like Masti. People had told me that I shouldn’t play a villain, but I went with my instinct and I enjoyed it in Krrish 3. My journey is about taking risks and seeing what happens when you do that. When the OTT platforms dropped into our market, and I was offered a project, I was told I’d be crazy to take that route. By that time, I was already hooked on to international shows. I gauged what the space had to offer and took the plunge. Ours was the first show from India to get an Emmy nomination. While that was a big deal for me, I didn’t sign 20 other shows and movies for the same space. I am enjoying my OTT journey, where I am now producing content and acting in some of it.OTT platforms have given us actors like Vijay Verma and Siddhant Chaturvedi, who are scene stealers. There are so many lovely actors who are coming up thanks to this digital zamana.
You said you enjoy working with younger actors. Do you pass on the learnings from your journey?
I am not the person who advises or passes wisdom, but my token advice to everyone is that acche waqt mein paglana nahi aur bure waqt mein ghabrana nahi. I just tell them to remember why they got into this profession. If someone’s only here for a bigger house or car, then it’s going to make them a part of a rat race, and in turn, make them rats for the rest of their careers. Why be that?
On the work front, the Omkara actor was last seen in Inside Edge 3 which happens to be a popular series.