Vivek Oberoi says powerful Bollywood people sabotaged his career: ‘I sat at home after delivering hits, no one came to me with films’ – The Indian Express

Its been 20 years since Vivek Oberoi delivered a breakthrough performance as a gangster in Company and followed it up with the romantic Saathiya. One would expect that he was set for a scintillating career on the back of these two hits, but Vivek’s career had more ups and downs than your mainstream masala. The actor’s award-winning performances were followed by phases when he had no work, he braved rejections multiple times and made a comeback.
In this interview with indianexpress.com, Vivek opens up about his journey that he says was built purely on “meritocracy”, and how there was a time when he had no work even after “delivering as an actor, and at the box office”.
Last seen in Dharavi Bank, Vivek Oberoi says it all boils down to every role that is offered to him should have an essence, without which he would just not take it up. About staying away from frivolous projects, he says, “I’ve tried not to, it’s not that I’ve not done it. I’ve done it in my past and felt very disappointed in myself. I didn’t like that because I was doing it on external advice, I was not listening to my heart. I don’t do films for money, I do work for money, money is just the byproduct of the art. For me, it’s pehle Saraswati uske baad mein Lakshmi. In cinema, I come from that culture. Everything I do, I try doing it consciously. After the success of Inside Edge, which offered me a new platform, I’ve been offered a show or film every month, every week. A kind of set-up had started building and I didn’t want to get into the set-up spirit. I waited, from 2017 to 2022, in five- six years, I’ve only done Inside Edge 1,2 and 3, Dharavi Bank and now Rohit Shetty’s Indian Police Force.”
 
 
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Vivek says his life has taught him to not get bound in a “set-up” mentality and instead think out-of-the-box. “I’ve been very particular and very careful. Despite who’s the producer or how big the set-up is, if I don’t get a feeling, I say no. I think I have a commitment to my fans who’ve been there for me for 20 years through thick and thin. So, my commitment is that if excellence, at least I try. If I’m trying to do something new, I make it clear to them. If it doesn’t work then I apologise; and if it works, I say thank you. I’ve always been very transparent with the audience,” says Vivek.
Vivek was among the early movers to OTT when Bollywood still looked down upon the medium. The actor says it was not foresight, but his “open mindedness” that landed him there.
He says, “I’d say open mindedness and lack of arrogance, I think. Sometimes we believe hum sab jaante hai, humara hi sahi hai. That comes from a sense of arrogance that you know all, but you should be willing to try something new, you should be willing to say ok, I’ll try and reinvent myself, let me try and experience what this is and that’s what leads you.”
Vivek also dabbled with Malayalam, Tamil and Telugu cinema much before other Bollywood actors were getting the hang of how big the South Indian cinema’s impact is.
He says, “Even when I went to South films, I went with all respect because to me they’re stalwarts. For me, Mohanlal ettan is nothing less than Mr Bachchan. The respect I give Me Bachchan is the respect I give Lalettan or Mammooka (Mammootty). So, for me that’s the same level. Ajith Kumar is as important as Shah Rukh Khan, I’m a fan of both. We had this thing in Bollywood earlier like ‘South wale, south Indian movies…’ now look at the turn around. Everybody is chasing and understanding that the commitment, the dedication, the honesty they bring to their work is paying off.”
The actor then talks about how his motivation to do film has changed through the years. He says, “My motivation to do films has changed, I’ve decided that I want to be honest to my craft and my fans. They are the ones who have stood by me in a way no friends in the industry, no production houses and makers have stood by me. They have given me the opportunity to shine, and accept me in different roles, in my thick and thin, their love has given me a different sense of being, a different sense of purpose and allegiance, my loyalty is towards my fans and no one else.”
 
 
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The actor confesses he is getting good work in mainstream Hindi cinema too. “I’m getting offers, people are talking to me about different projects. But I am not holding my breath. I had an amazing experience when I got a call from Rohit (Shetty), we’ve been friends for so many years, we’ve chatted about working together. Rohit has a golden heart, and makes a point to attend events I organise for poor kids fighting cancer. He’s not there because he has a film releasing, he’s just there supporting us,” shares Vivek.
 
 
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Giving more details about the Rohit Shetty’s directorial, Vivek says, “He asked me to read the script of Indian Police Force, which he took four years to write. He said that the day he thought of writing it, he had me in mind for the character and that I was his first choice so he wanted me to play it. I was so touched by that, it made me feel so valued. Every single day on shoot, the way he worked with me, the way he respected me, the way he gave me his best as a director, I really enjoyed that. So for me now, it is all about respect… if I have respect for the filmmaker, (otherwise) I’m not for sale.”
Before Inside Edge, Vivek faced a tumultuous phase in Bollywood. He shared his family has seen him struggle as he fought the lobby that acted against him.
“They’re extremely fond of me, proud of me, because they’ve seen me go through such a phase where there was a whole lobby, a whole powerful set of people who were trying to push me down. That was the time I went out and gave a Shootout at Lokhandwala, where I got a lot of praise and won awards. People were saying ‘oh my God, this is amazing!’ and then for one and a half years, I was sitting at home, nobody was coming to me with films, it defies all logic. As an actor I was delivering, box office was delivering, there were awards, critics were praising me but there was no work, kaam hi nahi tha,” Vivek shares.
 
 
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Did this treatment anger him? “I’m not angry, there is zero anger. What time has flown is a river gone by. But what I realised is that I wasn’t going to wait anymore. I wanted to do what makes me happy and work for my fans, to impress them. And OTT, today, has given me that liberation from this unnecessary paraphernalia that has nothing to do with creativity, or talent or meritocracy.”
 
 
A post shared by Vivek Oberoi (@vivekoberoi)
“Even when I’m a second generation actor, I didn’t allow my father to produce a film for me. I struggled on my own and came in here on my own merit. I’m a believer of meritocracy. Tomorrow if my child wants to be an actor, I’m not going to make a film for them, they’ll have to do it by themselves. If you have talent you’ll land,” shares Vivek.
Vivek also thinks that the lobby that tried crushing his talent is now breaking. He says, “It is breaking. Look at what Sushant Singh Rajput went through, or so many other kids go through, so much talent gets crushed because it was somebody’s decision, for reasons other than work, to just destroy someone. There is so much power in some people’s hands, there is a God complex, which needs to go. We can’t have too much power in their hand where they can think that they can make or break someone, and ensure that people don’t work in this industry again. People have said this to me and they actually believe it. It’s our fault as an industry that we’ve given that kind of power to them. That pedestal should be given only to talent — new, old, upcoming, established, that is the most important.”
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Komal RJ PanchalKomal Panchal writes about the entertainment industry at Indian Expres… read more

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