Vivek Oberoi – Up, close & personal

Vivek Oberoi and his hit franchise are back with their latest offering ‘Great Grand Masti’. Our Bollywood guide ‘G9 DivyaSolgama’ had a privilege to speak to him regarding sex-comedies, his bonding with Ritesh Deshmukh and Aftab Shivdasani, his views on comedy films, his desire to see ‘Sultan’ and his forthcoming film with Ram Gopal Varma.

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Vivek, this year has been bad for all the sex-comedy based films. So how skeptical are you with the release of your latest film ‘Great Grand Masti’?

Vivek – I think ‘Great Grand Masti’ doesn’t come into the space of adult comedy. It’s like saying action films are not working this year or love stories are not working this year. I think it depends on every film. The kind of response we have got on the trailer is phenomenal. The organic views we have got on the trailer or let’s says the song ‘Reshamka’ is around eight million plus views. People are liking it. The big difference in ‘Great Grand Masti’ is Inder Kumar. He is the master who is like granddaddy in this space. When people dint think it’s possible at that time he made a film like ‘Masti’ and that too with mainstream actors, which became a great blockbuster in that time. In ‘Grand Masti’ also people were shocked with the box-office results. What I like about ‘Great Grand Masti’ is the script of the film as it’s a sit-com making the film interesting and engaging. It’s inherently funny. I have seen the film and feel it’s probably the best in the whole series.

Vivek, it’s been more than a decade your first instalment of ‘Masti’ got released. In between, you did ‘Grand Masti’ and now you are back with ‘Great Grand Masti’ with the same male co-actors. So in all these years how has your bonding with your co-actors shaped up?

Vivek – We are like brothers. Every time we shoot a ‘Masti’ franchise, it feels like having a wedding in your house and all the cousins come together. It’s that kind of environment. The team, especially the technical people is almost the same and we have seen them growing over the last thirteen years. Now we have addition to this family that is our real life wives and kids coming to the sets. We have diaper duty conversation and parenting advice to each other’s. I and Ritesh give advice to Aftab to join us in this club of parenthood. So it’s very fun, personal and jovial among us. We try to involve the whole unit with us and best thing to do is pull their legs. Everybody has a guard when they come to the set and when you pull pranks on them, they become normal. All three of us pull so many pranks on each others and people start to laugh and join us in the gag. It becomes one fun zone. Coming back to the film, eighty percent is written on paper, but the hundred percent comes only due to our rapport with each other. We read the scene and then check the set followed by the instructions by the director. Then we have coffee and discuss among each other and try to add our inputs to the scene. Because of the comfort level, we share with each other we share the scenes and also share the punches for each other. If I feel Ritesh is best for this scene, I suggest him to do that particular scene and give my inputs to him. Even they do the same. We think of this in a big way so that it can work for the betterment of the film.

Vivek, despite of ‘Masti’ being a hit franchise, why is it that we never saw you being part of any other comical franchise?

Vivek – As an actor if you ask me what my forte is? I feel I have been more naturallycomfortable with roles that are strong, stoic and powerful. So whether Kaal in ‘Krissh 3’ or Maya in ‘Shootout At Lokhandwala’ or other roles I have played in films like ‘Company’, ‘Yuva’, ‘Sathiya’, ‘Omkara’ and such type of films. They are all been roles which have a certain degree of strength. Those come easier and naturally to me. Comedy is very difficult as you have to break your whole body language. For me, I sit in a certain way or sip my coffee in a certain way. So when I have to be Meet from the Masti series, I have to completely come and jumble it out.  So I have to come to the set, take a shot of black coffee and then go crazy. For me it actually takes two hours of masti or joking in the morning before I start shooting so that I can get into that zone of comedy where I can just let go. When I was doing the first ‘Masti’, there used to be times when I used to say ‘Sir, it’s damn funny but I cannot do this as I am conscious. So give this scene to Ritesh or Aftab’. I refused to do so many things as I was not comfortable doing such scenes in ‘Masti’. But in ‘Grand Masti’ I opened up so much that I started enjoying and had fun. In ‘Great Grand Masti’, I just had a blast as I would improvise and do crazy stuffs wherever it was possible. For me the fact is that its Induji and my brothers with whom I am totally comfortable. I don’t think I have that same level of comfort with anyone. Let’s say if I am part of ‘Golmaal’ franchise, it will take time for me as I would have to first develop the bond with the director and later with the co-actors. That’s the reason I prefer to do very less comedy films.

Vivek, ‘Great Grand Masti’ was originally scheduled for 22nd July but now in such circumstances it’s been preponed. But ‘Sultan’ doing phenomenally great at the box-office and its two weeks contract with single screens exhibitors, do you feel your film will miss out its core single screen audience?

Vivek – ‘Sultan’ is a big hit. I want to go and see ‘Sultan’ as soon as possible. People are loving it as it’s exciting to see big stars do biopics or theme based films or cinema like this. As a rule I personally feel, we as an industry need to genuinely celebrate success. Any kind of success in our industry benefits everyone in the industry. I feel there is a certain audience they are really waiting for ‘Great Grand Masti’. No matter what we will have that audience on the day of release. We started ‘Masti’ with small amount of screen and kept growing with ‘Grand Masti’ and out here also feel we might get a decent amount of screens in the first week followed by more in the second week. So I think we should be good.

Vivek, you are working again with your mentor Ram GopalVarma, so kindly share us about that film and all other projects for which you are totally excited?

Vivek – I am very excited about my latest film ‘Rai’ with Ramu. It’s based on the true life story of Bangalore based gangster who is alive. What’s different about him is that he was never born in the world of crime, he was a bank clerk. From there he becomes the kingpin of Bangalore. He had very interesting ideology of doing what’s right. No matter what the cost. He even took on Dawood Ibrahim and the entire establishment of the D-company, single headedly and held on. He started with thirty rupees and today he is worth thirty thousand crores. He had twenty eight murder cases and five agencies chasing him. Today he is acquitted of everything and is running a huge social organization which has an impact on crores of people in Karnataka. So it’s a fascinating character and a crazy journey. For me as an actor I am for the first time getting this opportunity to go and spend time with the guy whom I am portraying. I went and spent a whole week with him in his 120 acre farm where he is living outside Bangalore. It felt like I was in a movie while spending time with him. Also, this movie is a multi-lingual film and will be made in many languages. So it’s very exciting to work on this film, thus I am also producing it. Also, I have signed a film with Excel production. It’s a film which has never been done before and I play a lead in it. I am very excited for these forthcoming films.