Be it playing the leading man, or a supporting character, actor Vivek Anand Oberoi doesn’t believe in the length of a role. And that clearly shows in his filmography. While there was a Company, where he led the show in his debut, there was also Omkara, a film which completes 15 years of its release today.
The actor believes in a quote he had read while he was in film school. “I’ve never been that actor who says, ‘Achha mera kya hai isme’. For me, more than perception and how it looks like on a poster, I’m more about the content. I had read a quote, ‘There are no small roles, only small actors’, and that stuck. If I hadn’t played the role of Keshav Upadhyay, I’d have felt like I missed something,” says the 44-year-old.
Oberoi adds that it feels like just yesterday, that he was shooting for the Vishal Bhardwaj-directed film which received critical acclaim.
“It was such an amazing experience. Vishal bhai and I always had a great equation, and we were looking to collaborate on doing something together. I loved what he had done in Maqbool (2004) and Makdi (2002). He called me one day and said he was planning to make a film on the play Othello. I went over to hang out and he told me the basic story,” recounts the actor.
While it wasn’t known who else would be cast in the film, for Oberoi, he had his eyes set on Langda Tyagi’s role, which was played by Saif Ali Khan.
“I said I wanted to do that role, but Vishal bhai said, ‘You’re too young for it’. I said I’ll age myself, try and look older. But he needed a more mature face. Until then, I hadn’t done an all-out negative role. Langda was so colourful. Then I found out he had Saif in his mind. I thought, ‘What a lucky man’. There’s a lot of fondness and warmth that we share, but at that moment I was envious!” shares Oberoi, as he takes a trip down memory lane.
A funny incident that the actor remembers is Khan’s refusal to cut his long hair and sport trimmed hair, which his character demanded.
“Vishal was a serious filmmaker, he was upset and said without the haircut it absolutely won’t work. The producer was oscillating between the two. Ajay (Devgn, co star) was having a big laugh. I literally, jokingly threatened Saif ‘Dude, shave your head, otherwise I’ll do it and play the role!’ He eventually did it. Nobody could play it better,” he gushes.
Bhardwaj had promised Oberoi that he’d win awards for his acting in the film, and it turned out to be true. Oberoi says, “He hugged me after my first shot and said, ‘You’re going to win an award for this’. I was like really? And it came through, I won it [for Best Supporting Actor].”
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