Saturday, July 19, 2008

"Apoorva wanted me to be strong and think strong to act strong"- Vivek Oberoi

What happens when you stop a Bollywood star who is just about to board an international flight? He'd say 'Sorry, not now'. But if the man in the picture is Vivek Oberoi, what then? I'm sure he'd remind you of Maya in Shootout at Lokhandwala and you'd rather not mess with him. Here, the story took a bit of a turn. Nicknamed 'Tiger' and 'Rockstar' by his friends and colleagues, Vivek Oberoi is on a high these days because his director thinks Mission Istaanbul is his best work till date. Devansh Patel grabs the actor moments before he boards his flight to find out his comment on the quote, his bad and good guy image, his mission and lots more interesting answers to some hard hitting questions.

So, Maya is back after Shootout… to complete his Mission... What say Vivek?
(Laughs out loud) I like the way you put that. Very creatively done. Have you ever thought of dialogue writing? Actually, I am really excited. 'Maya' was a big bad boy who ended the Shootout. Here the good guy is going to complete his Mission. Rizwan Khan (Vivek's character in Mission Istaanbul) lost his own family, his wife, and his child to a bomb blast in Ankara. So, he takes an oath that he will try and protect as many innocent lives he can from the dreaded terrorists. That's his mission, he is the hero and the good guy. But having said that, his attitude is a real bad one and that's what I love about him.

I am really excited. 'Maya' was a big bad boy who ended the Shootout. Here the good guy is going to complete his Mission.
Gabbar Singh's famous dialogue 'Jo Darr Gaya, Samjho Mar Gaya' has been transformed by Apoorva Lakhia, which reads 'Darr Ke Aage Jeet Hai'. So who's right?
Gabbar Singh was a legend and the dialogue is part of history. You don't mess with legends. But as far as 'Darr Ke Aage Jeet Hai' is concerned, it rocks for us. Rizwan Khan (Vivek Oberoi) forgot to get introduced to fear. He is that kind of guy (laughs). There is a situation where Vikas Sagar (Zayed Khan's character), tells Rizwan Khan which is my character, "Wahan pe bees armed security guards hain yaar, andar kaise jaayenge?” to which Rizwan smiles casually and says, "Pahuncha doonga.” And the next moment, they both are in. He breaks through everything and lands up killing the bad guys in the terrorist network. He is in the cold zone where 40 people are staring at him from their work desks and are shocked to see how this guy came there. Rizwan then comes in and casually looks at all of them, loads his automatic weapon and questions, "Bahar jaaoge ya upar?"

Chiseled looks, bulging biceps and long hair is what we haven't seen much of from Mr. Oberoi. What went into creating such a look?
Rizwan Khan is such a cool guy that in terms of the clothing, styling and everything was an extension of his personality. When I read the character itself, it was so cool. I mean, he is the kind of guy who'll land up anywhere, anytime. That is precisely what Vikas Sagar tells him, "Rizwan Khan tum toh bhoot ho yaar, kahin se bhi aa jaate ho aur kahin se bhi nikal jaate ho." Anything that is impossible, he'll make it possible with a wink of an eye. One wanted someone who could physically also look like that. Rizwan Khan had to have this demeanor that we had never seen before. Dilshad who is my hair stylist, did my hair, and Falguni Thakore did the clothes and designed the entire look. On the other hand, Apoorva was working with both of them in tandem to create the entire image of Rizwan.

What went into your exercise regime? Did you have to build your six-pack and then shoot the film?
The first thing that Apoorva narrated to me was a scene where Vikas Sagar is running through the grand bazaar with six guys after him to kill him. And just as you think that he is going to get killed any minute, in the nick of time, a guy comes from nowhere, grabs him and pins him up against the wall and takes care of the six baddies in thirty two seconds single handedly. Rizwan is that strong. Apoorva wanted me to be strong and think strong to act strong. Therefore, there was little more that went into my training, even though we actors have to stay fit. Here I had to stay extra fitter.

Apoorva wanted me to be strong and think strong to act strong.
When I spoke to Apoorva last week, he said that he had Abhishek Bachchan in mind before he signed you for the role of Rizwan. Do you consider yourself lucky?
You know, it's been strange. I think many people don't know this but my first two films - Company and Saathiya both had Abhishek Bachchan in the lead. I got a break because Abhishek didn't do Company and then I got Saathiya for the same reason. Even in Apoorva's previous film Shootout at Lokhandwala, he had considered Abhishek to do a full fledged role but only managed a special appearance. So all this is rather quite interesting. People remember that Saif Ali Khan did Hum Tum after I said no. I couldn't do that film. I think it's destiny for all of us. Someone's loss is another's gain.

My first two films - Company and Saathiya both had Abhishek Bachchan in the lead. I got a break because Abhishek didn't do Company and then I got Saathiya for the same reason
We have seen you at your best in Company and Shootout. In between, you have a bit of Masti as well. But then again you are on a Mission. Should we change your name to Versatile Oberoi?
Thank you so much. It's a very nice compliment. It actually goes with my initials too (laughs). Many critics tell me that I should stick to roles like in the two films you mentioned. Critics will always be critics but the point to remember for me everyday is that I'm a greedy actor and I like to do every kind of role whether it's action or comedy. Recently, at the IIFA Awards in Bangkok, I had twenty pretty girls apprehend me. They grab hold of me and told me that we are going to threaten the action hero. The point they conveyed to me was that if I didn't do another love story for them, I'd be in big trouble. They said, "We supported you through Shootout, we are supporting you through Mission Istaanbul and are going to see it but it's time you do a love story.” So yeah, I am doing different stuff now. I am excited. I'm doing a big film in South Africa with Tips and that's a huge solo hero film for me. After that, I'm doing Karan Johar's film with Rensil De Silva directing and writing it which also stars Saif and Kareena in it. And there is this love story which I am doing and is being developed in the first quarter of next year. It's a very sweet, Saathiya kind of feel.

You will remember this interview as it's your last before you check in the immigration to go to South Africa. So who and where is the leading lady of the film?
Ahh! That's a big surprise.

This is your first film where you've performed some daring stunts all by yourself. Were you willing to take such a risk?
That's actually untrue. I've been performing stunts from my very first movie. Infact, I earned the nickname 'Tiger' because on my very first schedule in Kenya for the film Company, I was challenged to leap across from a six-storey building to a five-storey one. I went across the entire length of the road and landed on the other side. In Mission Istaanbul, too we are coming down from a 44-floor building. That was mad and insane but had to do it.

Does Mika's 'Apun Ke Saath' start from where 'Ganpat' ends?
Absolutely. It was always meant to be a follow up to 'Ganpat'. 'Ganpat' was such a rage and such a big sensation that we wanted to take it to the next level and promote Mission Istaanbul. 'Apun Ke Saath' shows the attitude of Rizwan Khan.

I have to be a bit biased here Vivek. But what do you have to say about the young Gujarati boy Chirantan Bhatt who is just 21 years old and has given chartbuster hits like 'Mission Mission' and 'Nobody Like You'?
Oh, my God dude, I didn't even know that Chiru's name is Chirantan Bhatt. We call him Chiru. But I'm really happy for Chiru and Hamza who have worked with him in both these songs. They have done a great job and very happy with not only the two songs you've mentioned but the entire album. I think, by far my favourite is 'Apun Ke Saath'. The kind of dynamics, lyrics and cool quality that Mika has come up with after 'Ganpat' and the kind of response it got at the IIFA Bangkok is truly unbelievable. Everywhere I go now people associate me with this song.

The kind of dynamics, lyrics and cool quality that Mika has come up with after 'Ganpat' is truly unbelievable.
One of the most clich├ęd questions for you Vivek. How was the experience of working with Zayed Khan?
It was great man! All these guys were cool. They were fun to work with and we worked pretty hard, partied pretty hard too. All in all a great experience.

That's a short answer.
Well, that doesn't make it clich├ęd, does it? (Laughs)

Mission Istaanbul is a film, which will have its own target audience. Do you think the film will work in the overseas?
One never thought that Shootout would do very well in the overseas audience. But it did. In the Middle East, it did terrific business. The audiences mindsets are changing. They are accepting change. There are liking different kind of cinema. So we're hoping. Overseas has a big audience and are important for the success of our films. If Mission works in the overseas, we all will be very happy.

Any plans of having a premiere in Istaanbul.
Yeah. Apoorva always wanted that. I don't know how much of that is going to be possible. At the end of the day, one wants to have a big premiere in Mumbai and then fly off to Istanbul the very next moment. It's not as easy as it looks. If it happens, it will be exciting and awesome. But that really isn't my call. It's between Apoorva, Suniel Shetty and Balaji.

Besides filming, what were you up to in Istanbul?
We had a blast man. I mean, I am a complete party animal. When I get days off, I love to club all the way through the morning. One of the other nicknames that I've earned from college days is 'Rockstar'. That's not because I'm musically inclined in anyway. I can't play any musical instruments. If I party, I've got a golden rule. I don't come back before seeing the morning sun. You party all night, see the sun, and then go home.

If I party, I've got a golden rule. I don't come back before seeing the morning sun.
Aren't we going to see any romantic side of you in Mission Istaanbul?
No man, not this time. You'll just have to wait a year more.

I know you have to check in now. But before I say Bon Voyage, one last question. Your director says that Mission Istaanbul is going to be your best performance till date. What are the odds?
I am really excited about that statement. It's a really big statement to make. But I don't know. I've given my best, worked an entire year, I've not done anything else and focused only on Mission Istaanbul. I hope what Apoorva says is true. He keeps telling me that. I haven't even seen the film yet but I have faith and belief in Apoorva.

Any message for your fans before you board your flight to South Africa.
A big Thank You straight from my heart. When I was not doing well in films, the one thing that kept me going was the belief in my fans and the support, which they have shown for me. Every little 'I love you Vivek' which comes out from them makes you feel so special. My fans aren't just statistics for me, they are the reason for who I am today and where I am.

Down to 15 % bodyfat, Koena gets into exceptional shape for her boy-bashing flick

Irony can go no further. While producers in India dub Koena Mitra's voice, for her international project Karna, she's been asked to cultivate a British accent to speak in her own voice.

For Karna, Koena is also cultivating a fat-free athletic physique; the kind she says is not fashionable in Bollywood. "With the help of my trainer Channel Pereira, I've lost so much weight. I'm down to 15 percent body fat. The rest is all muscles. This is all for my kick-ass boy-bashing role in Karna. Unfortunately, Bollywood goes ga-ga over thin not fit bodies."

She has to train especially hard since she will be the only woman in this all-male actioner. "In Bollywood, they think if a leading lady can do one free-falling kick she's achieved the unthinkable. In Karna, I've to do the kind of action which only male actors have been seen doing in the movies."

Not only that, Koena has to acquire another skill for Karna. "I've to get a British accent, and fast. Yes they've asked me to speak in my own voice and in British accent because the movie will be in sync sound. I've to learn four different types of British dialects."

The film will be shot in six countries. But mainly in Hong Kong and China. Koena thinks Bollywood isn't ready for boy-bashing chick flicks. "I recently shot three promos for the film. When I saw myself fighting aliens I got really excited. Our country isn't ready for a real chick flick like Charlie's Angels and Lara Croft. I think I'll be the first Indian actress to go out there and kick ass. And I don't have to become a Size 0 to look sexy," she chuckles.

Deepika: Crazy Kiya Re

Just one hit to her credit and Deepika Padukone is already creating waves in the film circuit. Be it with Ranbir Kapoor or without him, the actress has already become the cynosure of all eyes.

Deepika Padukone unveiled the first look of her forthoming venture Chandni Chowk To China at a suburban multiplex. The film seems promising and will feature Deepika in different avtaars all through the film.

Not only fans thronged to just have a look at the actress but also there was pandemonium when the photographers went to click pictures of her. Security guards behaved very unruly and created ruckus.

A frightened Deepika took shelter in the theatre halls and refused to come out after watching all these. The makers had to finally cajole the actress and bring her to face the shutterbugs once again.

Chandni Chowk to China is a R S Entertainment and Warner Bros film. It is being produced by Rohan Sippy and directed by Nikhil Advani.

The film stars Akshay Kumar, Deepika Padukone, Mithun Chakraborty, Ranvir Shorey and Masumeh Makhija. But looking at the Deepika craze among the audience, the makers must have been thinking about depending on Deepika only for striking the hit string.

I don't have to be Size 0 to look sexy

Irony can go no further.

While producers in India dub Koena Mitra's voice, for her international project Karna she's been asked to cultivate a British accent to speak in her own voice.

For Karna Koena is also cultivating a fat-free athletic physique, the kind she says is not fashionable in Bollywood.

"With the help of my trainer Channel Pereira I've lost lost so much weight. I'm down to 15 percent body fat. The rest is all muscles. This is all for my kick-ass boy-bashing role in Karna. Unfortunately Bollywood goes ga-ga over thin not fit bodies."

She has to train specially hard since she will be the only woman in this all-male actioner. "In Bollywood they think if a leading lady can do one free-falling kick she's achieved the unthinkable. In Karna I've to do the kind of action only male actors have been seen doing in the movies."

Not only that, Koena has to acquire another skill for Karna. "I've to get a British accent, and fast. Yes they've asked me to speak in my own voice and in British accent because the movie will be in sync sound. I've to learn four different types of British dialects."

The film will be shot in six countries. But mainly in Hong Kong and China.

Koena thinks Bollywood isn't ready for boy-bashing chick flicks.

"I recently shot three promos for the film. When I saw myself fighting aliens I got really excited. Our country isn't ready for a real chick flick like Charlie's Angels and Lara Croft

. I think I'll be the first Indian actress to go out there and kick ass. And I don't have to become a Size 0 to look sexy, " she chuckles. I don't have to be Size 0 to look sexy.

Kareena and Shahid in cold war

Lover, friends and now foes. Shahid and Kareena have entered into a cold war. After dumping him almost a year a go Bebo is making sure that Shahid is never cast opposite her.

When Imtiaz Ali, director of Jab we Met, approched Bebo for another project with former beau Shahid she expressed her discomfort quite clearly and asked him to replace him with someone else. Finally Akki was offered the role and he happily accepted.

We also hear that Bebo was extremely upset with Imtiaz, because he did not cast her in his next flick and preferred Deepika to co-star with Saif.

Imtiaz, who is back from London after a long schedule of Saif's movie says, "I guess everyone assumed that Kareena would be part of it. Moreover as Saif is the producer, it was just taken for granted.

As a director I have to see what the storyboard demands and accordingly do the casting. It's not that there was any tussle on that front; the fact that we are working together again proves it."

However after a much-publicised break-up Shahid has drwan into a shell.

A gentle query about his one-time friend Kareena Kapoor, and Shahid sounds diplomatic and cagey, “Kareena and I rarely talk. We are not in touch with each other. I guess this is something, which happens naturally. Beyond that I would not like to talk about it."

Asin comes in Sallu's London Dreams

Tamil actress Asin will play the female lead opposite Bollywood icon Salman Khan in 'London Dreams', publicists said here Friday.

The venture will be directed by Vipul Shah, publicists added.

Asin has acted as the female lead opposite Aamir Khan in 'Ghajini', the remake of a Tamil film of the same name.

The actress is also tipped to play a major role in a Hollywood film, sources close to the actress added.

Ramu gave me a wound that can never be healed: Manoj Bajpai

Manoj Bajpai got recognition in filmdom with Ram Gopal Varma's 'Satya', but says he will never go back to his mentor.

'You will never see me doing a film with him (Varma) again. The wound that he has given can never be healed, ' Manoj told.

Varma gave Manoj a role in 'Satya' after watching him in Shekhar Kapur's 'Bandit Queen'. But the two never got along well. Manoj alleged that Varma always humiliated him during the making of 'Satya'.

The final break came when Varma was casting for 'Ramu Ki Aag' and met Manoj for Samba's role. But it didn't work out and the director said Manoj and he could never see eye to eye. The day after the meeting with Manoj, Varma signed Sushant Singh for Samba's role.

Now, Manoj has found a new friend in Bollywood's funny man Govinda whom he met on the sets of 'Money Hai To Honey Hai'. The difference in their approach to acting has not affected that friendship.

'He (Govinda) is an open hearted person and is always ready to give and take suggestions. We have developed a great admiration for each other, ' says Manoj, who plays one of the lead roles with Govinda in the comedy.

'We used to be always together on the sets and used to have interesting conversations, ' he added.

Manoj says Govinda, who made a successful comeback with 'Partner' last year, is a spontaneous actor.

'It was a great experience working with him. He has a lot of spontaneity in him and to complement that one needs to be equally spontaneous.'

'Money Hai To Honey Hai' is choreographer turned director Ganesh Acharya's second outing as director. In his directorial debut 'Swami', he had teamed up with Manoj and Juhi Chawla.

Manoj claims he and Acharya share a special bonding.

'Our relationship started from the time we worked in 'Swami' and we have become great friends. We have great respect for each other. I like his work style and feel comfortable with him.'

About the film 'Money Hai To Honey Hai', Manoj said it was an out and out comedy that tells the story of five losers in life who try to make it big.




'I am playing Lalabhai, one of the losers, who tries to make it big but doesn't know how to go about it. The story is about how he meets all the other losers, finds a purpose in life and tries to achieve it.'

Manoj, who has been associated with serious films like 'Bandit Queen', 'Satya', 'Shool' and 'Pinjar', said acting is tough - be it in serious or comedy films.

'I find acting difficult. People think that it is a cakewalk, but it is one of the most difficult things.

'If anyone says that acting in comedy films is tougher than in serious films then I suggest that he should go to a doctor. Comedy requires spontaneity and serious films require more craft.'

Manoj's wife Neha, who had debuted with Vidhu Vinod Chopra's 'Kareeb' and went on to act in films like 'Fiza' and 'Rahul' among others, has gone back to her original name Shabana Raza.

Shabana is making a comeback with Sanjay Gupta's 'Alibaug'. Was it her decision or did Manoj inspire her?

'Sanjay Gupta is a dear friend and he wanted her to be there in the film. As far as her work is concerned, she takes her own decision.'

On future projects, Manoj said he is working in Gupta's 'Acid Factory' and Anand Kumar's humorous film on sealing of commercial establishments in Delhi, titled 'Jugaad'.

The actor is also doing Prakash Jha's 'Rajniti', which is expected to go on the floor in January 2009.

SRK versus Akki this Diwali

Get ready for fireworks this Diwali. With Salman's YUVRAAJ not arriving in the festive week and SRK's BILLO BARBER getting confirmed for Diwali, it seemed like a cakewalk for BILLO BARBER, since no other biggie was scheduled for release on October 24. But there's tough competition now.

Initially, the Akshay Kumar starrer CHANDNI CHOWK TO CHINA was supposed to arrive a week later, on a Wednesday to be precise [October 29], but Warner Bros., Rohan Sippy and Nikhil Advani have decided to bring the film in Diwali. Which means, BILLO BARBER and CHANDNI CHOWK TO CHINA will battle it out this Diwali.

It's a battle royale, what with the two superstars, SRK and Akki, coming face to face in the festive week. Expect fireworks, for sure.

Subhash K Jha speaks about Kismat Konnection

In one of the gloriously gossamer moments in the film, the 'hero', a harassed working-class entity and the kind of bereft soul you would immediately recognize if you've grown up watching Aziz Mirza's working-class romances, with one of his shoes in hand looks up in the sky and says with a stifled sob, "I give up."

Fortunately God isn't listening when Raj Malhotra wants out. Imagine what we would do if the working-class hero stumbled and fell. Kismat Konnection is one of the sweetest and most endearing romantic comedies in recent times.

Its beauty and charm lie in its truthful and transparent depiction of life on the green but thirty side of the lawn. Mirza sprinkles the frames with soft satiny whispering waves of undulating emotions. There are many moments in this boy-meets-girl saga that spread a warm sunshine across your heart.

This time it's more about the mystery than the chemistry. Those invisible forces that guide the romantic spirit from one heart into another infusing two people with a collective ecstasy….that's the world which the two protagonists in the film inhabit. This one is not about villains and goblins and not about over-groomed mannequins and under-dressed dolls. For Kismat Konnection the mellow-toned manoeuvres of Mirza move into the metropolitan milieu and mores of Toronto.

As shot by the invincible Binod Pradhan, the city looks pretty. But not postcard-perfect. Mirza shoots the protagonists with affectionate gusto in the bustle. Raj and Priya (Vidya Balan) never get lost in the alien crowds heading towards god-knows-which-horizon. But it's more a merger than a disappearance.

Portions of the film are shot with such rare care and unfussy simplicity, you simply get sucked into the sheer artlessness of the hectic but quietly comforting romantic overtures. Pritam Chakraborty's peppy tunes are mostly kept at the periphery, used mostly in the promotional clippings on television. On screen it's the romantic 'Ba-khuda' which stirs our senses and fills us with a pervasive bonhomie.

Watch Shahid sneak surreptitious glances at Vidya from the corner of her eye. Watch as she watches him sneak glances. She knows. He knows that she knows.

We know. This is a film that could do away with those witty wise-cracking crackling words of eternal romanticism made by hearts that know no impurity and malice. The narrative flows with calm assurance bringing in its wake several interludes of heart-warming tenderness.

Shahid Kapoor is extremely adept at expressing hurt. And he gets many opportunities to do so. From the moment when he pleads with God to stop tormenting him to the time he realizes he has wronged the golden-hearted girl who trusted him to create a miniature haven in the concrete jungle, Shahid infuses a disarming verve to portrait of an artiste as an angst-laden man.

As for Vidya Balan, she exudes such positivity in that voice and smile of hers, she reminds us of the early Juhi Chawla who, by the way, makes a very unconvincing cameo appearance in this film as a goofy crystal-ball gazer.

What keeps the love-interest interesting are the details that go into preserving the core of simplicity in the man-woman relationship. The supporting cast is mildly interesting. But it's the Kapoor-Balan axis that keeps us vigorously engrossed even when the narration loses virility in parts. But the story never sags. Never stops walking tall.

Kismat Konnection doesn't aspire to be a classic look at the man-woman relationship. Like Aziz Mirza's earlier films the protagonist struggles with broken-down vehicles and a crumbling conscience clinging to his convictions as he slides down the ladder of his own self-esteem.

By the end of it all, the goodness of its all just wraps you in a warm blanket. Yup, all's well in the world. This working-class romance really works.

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