Actor Vivek Oberoi began his film journey with some of the biggest hits in ‘Company’, ‘Saathiyaa’, ‘Yuva’, ‘Masti’, and others. He was being spoken of as the next big superstar. But soon afterward things started going southwards for him, and films started not performing that great at the box-office. He, however, has kept bouncing back time and again with films like ‘Shootout At Lokhandwala’, ‘Rakta Charitra’, ‘Krrish 3’ and many others.
Not just that, he even was one of the very few mainstream stars to take the OTT route when it was just at a nascent stage in India. Back in 2016-17, he decided to pick up ‘Inside Edge’ which went on to become a great success and even win awards. It recently released its third season, which garnered a great response for Oberoi.
Despite all of that, every project that Oberoi comes up with has always been tagged as his comeback and people say that he is trying to revive his acting career. He speaks up about this and lots more in a short chat with Outlook.
Are you tired of reading articles about your ‘comeback’ and ‘revival of your acting career’?
Initially, I used to get irritated but I don’t anymore, I just laugh. I think as you grow old and wise with age and experience these things don’t matter to me anymore. I have heard terms like these so many times that it does not bother me anymore. I can’t really tell you how empowered I feel right now. This space has given me so much empowerment and I really feel very good about it. I have got the chance to pick and do films and projects that excite me, and that I want to do and be a part of. I don’t need to be a part of some lobby. I don’t need to give ‘salami’ in some ‘darbaar’. I just do my thing as an actor that is how it should be.
Were you also discouraged by your near and dear ones to not take a show on the web?
One thing that you get a lot and for free in India is advice. When I did ‘Company’ people discouraged me and told me that the launch of an actor should not be like that and then when it became a runaway success and I got phenomenal recognition and fame; people then appreciated me for doing something different. When I was doing ‘Inside Edge’ people called me mad for being a major mainstream actor and jumping into a small OTT wagon. However, I was enjoying watching series on OTT myself and I knew that this is going to be the future and I did it and once it became such a huge success, I ended up winning a bunch of awards for it, then it got nominated for the Emmys then there was no looking back. People then said that I was ahead of the curve.
With the boom of the OTT platforms, do you feel that the characters are getting more prominence now than stars on OTT?
For sure they are. When you look at a show like ‘Scam 1992’, you look at a little-known Gujarati actor like Pratik Gandhi, who is just phenomenal and he owns that role. Very few times it happens that other actors like me see him and say that nobody could play the role as well as he did it and the role was made for him. When you feel like that for somebody, it shows you the power of the platforms, it shows that this platform is bringing up talented actors. What I love about this platform is that it gives a chance to talented actors to shine, grow, create a huge fan following for themselves, and re-build their careers. This OTT is like a nursery for the actors. Unfortunately, the industry has not been very inclusive. We have a different set of rules for “insiders” and so on and meritocracy doesn’t have much space here whereas OTT is all about merit.
You do so much humanitarian work. Does that take time away from the acting work?
Yes, it does but I don’t look at it as a bad thing. I want to live a balanced life, a whole life. There is going to be a private life and a public life. In my public life, people know me as an actor. In my private life, I am a father, I am a son. I like those precious moments of watching my children grow up. So that is a very important part of my life. Social work for me is not a job. It is not something that I have to do. It is something that I have been doing because it has been fulfilling me for the last 18-19 years. Consistently doing it makes me feel steady and when I see the impact of my work it is greater for me than any of the awards that I win. It is not for creating some publicity. For me, it is like actually getting the work done. I especially allocate time to it because that is what feeds my soul. I would gladly leave a movie shoot behind for this work without even giving a second thought. It gives purpose to my life.