Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Vivek Oberoi: Acting the Mani Ratnam way!

Vivek Oberoi: Acting the Mani Ratnam way!

Vivek Oberoi | May 19, 2004 20:00 IST

Mani Ratnam is a genius."

"My role was challenging."

"All three actors from the Tamil version are good friends of mine."

"I hope Yuva will be memorable."

"Kareena is fun to work with."

The excitement in Vivek Oberoi's tone is hard to miss in his interview to India Abroad's Deputy Managing Editor Vaihayasi P Daniel. Excerpts:

Yuva has been a fascinating experience because of the master of cinema: Mani Ratnam.

He [Ratnam] is one of the best talents that India has ever produced. It has been a great experience working with him.

I have never performed a character like this [Arjun Balakrishnan] who does not have any direction. He represents the masses, the youth in India, which is indifferent to most political issues. They [the youth] are not politically conscious [or] awakened.

He [my character] is very self-serving and selfish. His whole drive is very individualistic. He does not think about what he can do for others, only what he can get for himself. He is not good. He is not bad. He is not polarised. He thinks he has got it all figured out. But the film reveals that there is a certain inherent goodness and nobility that comes out. How he polarises them. And, by the end of the film, how his stand on things, his perspective of things change.

It [playing the character] was challenging. It was different to do a film like Yuva. Because there are two ways to act — one way is the regular way to act and one is Mani Ratnam's way.

He is a genius. What is amazing is that he throws up a challenge all the time. You have practised something. You have been given a scene. You have worked it out for yourself. You have rehearsed it a number of times. You have worked on the lines. You have thought how you are going to deliver. You have thought how you are going to mechanically work out the entire scene in your head. Then you have gone there. You have done it. And he says, "Great, fabulous, I love it. It is damn good. But now that we have this, how about trying something completely different? Whatever you have done, leave it all aside. Try something different from everything that you have done."

You have put in everything you have got into that [scene]. Now, you have to try and find something that is totally different and apart from what you just did. It is challenging. It is interesting. It gives you a fresh perspective on everything.

What is amazing about him [Mani Ratnam] is that he plans so brilliantly and executes so perfectly. What is amazing is that he still leaves enough room for spontaneity.

As an actor, I love improvising. I love bringing stuff that was never in the script out. Try to add on stuff, you know? And to have a director who is so confident and assured enough to be able to decide what he wants to keep and what he doesn't. [He is not] somebody who is not insecure enough to say, "No, no, let's go by the book, let's go by the book, by the rules. This is exactly how it has to be done." He is not like that.

In spite of being so well planned and well organised, he leaves enough room for spontaneity.

He is a wonderful human being, a great guy. I had so much fun working with him. He has different moods. He is a lot of fun. He has a great sense of humour. In spite of being so much older than I am, he makes me feel like we are the same age. The way he behaves, the entire attitude, the way he interacts, it makes you feel that the generation gap does not exist. He just thinks, behaves and acts. He is so hip and cool.

Mani Sir had seen Company. He really liked that. He had seen Saathiya, which was written by Mani Ratnam. He also produced the film. He was very impressed with my work. He had been telling me that he wants to do something [a film] with me. I said, 'It will be an honour.' He called me and gave me the script. I think I was the first actor on that film [Yuva] to be confirmed. That was the best part. I was really honoured to know that the first person to be picked for a part was me.

I was really kicked about the idea. He called me and gave me the script. I read through it. I freaked out on the script. I told him all the roles are so brilliant that I would do anyone of them. Then he told me which one he wants me to do. I loved it. I went for it.

I have met Siddharth [who plays Oberoi's role in the Tamil version Aayitha Ezhuthu]. I met him before too. He is a really cool and fun guy. All the actors [Siddharth, Surya and Madhavan] from the Tamil version, all three of them, are very good friends of mine. Madhavan is a very good friend of mine. Surya is a very good friend of mine. Siddharth is a very good friend of mine. They are all very good friends.

The Hindi film was shot and completed first. And then they [the makers] commenced the Tamil shooting. We hung out together. Every time we [actors] were down in Chennai, we hung out with a lot of the Tamil actors, which was great fun. They would drop in on the sets. We would say hi and meet up.

I hope it [Yuva] will be memorable for reasons other than the accident.

I worked with Kareena [Kapoor] for the first time. She is fun to work with. She is a talented actress.

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