Spotlight: Vivek Oberoi

“You guys inspire me so much to keep going on in the face of every storm! Thank you for all your support and encouragement, now every great movie, every great performance I do is dedicated to my fans - the most wonderful and important people in the world! Love ~ VO”

This caring message was sent to his fans by Vivek Oberoi, a star of the Hindi film industry, also known as Bollywood. All the celebrities from the industry have special places in the hearts of their fans, but this one in particular has an intriguing personality, one quite unlike many others. He does not bask in the fame he receives, and states “people make too much of stardom and that it is a myth.” Off screen, this young, talented actor works in many different ways to help those less fortunate and divert the spotlight to them. He also shifts this spotlight to his fans with whom he shares a unique and loving relationship. These fans come from all walks of life and from all parts of the world: they appreciate and admire him not only for his acting but also for the man he is.

“Self-respect and respect for others are values that my parents have given me” ~VO

Vivek Oberoi was born in Hyderabad, India on September 3, 1976 to Suresh and Yashodhara Oberoi. Suresh Oberoi is a highly respected actor in Bollywood, and Vivek always wanted to follow in his father’s acting footsteps. When asked in an interview by Rosmila Bhattacharya for Screen India magazine what inspired him to be an actor, Vivek replied, “I distinctly remember what sparked off that aim in acting. If you know in schools we do plays on Parent's Day. I remember being backstage, all prepared to hit the stage! I was mumbling my opening lines under my breath. The minute I strolled up on stage, the first thing I did was look out for my parents. But I couldn't see anyone. It was absolutely dark. It was mesmerizing! I spoke my lines. And then there was no looking back as I performed the character of the soldier with utmost ease. So impressed were the faculties by my performance that they advised my father send me to theatre workshop in London. And my father did the next year. I was seven then. After that I just concentrated on my studies here. It was only after graduation that I enrolled myself to an acting school in London. I remember after having completed the course successfully, we were told to do some auditions. I was given a long sheet of dialogues to say. After reading it, I enacted it out in my own style, it was kind of mono-act. I was not aware that someone watching me. He was none other than director of NYU. He took me to New York. And I did my post graduation in acting from there.” (At the prestigious Tisch School of Drama.)

“I don’t believe in stardom, I believe in actordom” ~ VO

After completing graduate school, Vivek returned to Mumbai to start his career in Bollywood. In 2002, he made his debut in Ram Gopal Varma's Company. The film was a critically acclaimed box office hit. He was applauded and praised for his work in that film, the first time that any newcomer received so much adulation from critics and the public. One critic said of his performance, “Oberoi makes his long-awaited debut with Company and completely blows his competitors out of the water. Oberoi´s facial expressions, dialogue delivery, etc. -- everything is dead-on. Perhaps the most noticeable aspect of the actor is his intense and expressive eyes. His aggressive nature and intense personality make the viewer sit up and take notice. Furthermore, he is excellent in his scenes with Antara Malli and Seema Biswas.” With another writing, “Vivek Oberoi surprises you with a performance that is a cut above the rest. He seems to have prepared for the character, bestowing it with finer nuances. The usage of the slum dweller's dialect and the intonations give his character a vividly distinct look. A performance that merits the highest marks!” At the Filmfare Awards in 2002 he received awards in the Best Debut as well as the Best Supporting Actor category. This performance also garnered him the Star Screen Award Most Promising Newcomer (Male), Zee Cine Award (Best Male Debut), and the Zee Cine Award Best Actor in a Supporting Role (Male). In 2002 he also starred in Road as Arvind Sehgal.

His next film was with Yash Raj Films titled Saathiya, a remake of a Southern hit directed by Mani Ratnman and re-made in Hindi by his assistant Shaad Ali. The film was critically and commercially successful, and Vivek received Best Actor nominations at various award functions, and was awarded the Filmfare Best Actor Award. About this performance, Taran Adarsh said, “Saathiya clearly belongs to Vivek Oberoi, who enacts his part with elan. Enacting a role that is in sharp contrast to his first two films, the youngster comes up with a sparkling performance, which is sure to multiply his fan following.”

After this spectacular beginning, he was in high demand, and has since portrayed many different characters in roles ranging from comedy to drama including, of course, the romantic hero. 2003 brought the roles of Uday in Dum and Amar in Darna Mana Hai, and in 2004 he gave us Arjun in Yuva, Arjun in Kyun! Ho Gaya Na and the hysterically funny Meet Mehta in the hit Masti.

Three different movies and roles would be the body of Vivek’s work in 2005: Dev Malhotra in the cutting edge Kaal, the epic Kisna with Vivek in the title role, and Home Delivery, the long awaited next work of the film maker of Jhankar Beats. Though Home Delivery was not a critical or box office success, I have to say that I really liked the film and thought that Vivek was wonderful as Sunny Chopra.

Pyare Mohan was released in 2006, costarring Fardeen Khan, Amrita Rao and Esha Deol. The film was not a commercial success, but his fans disagreed: “Performances are brilliant! Vivek's super cute, you just wanna go hug him, I think he's really evolved as an actor. I think Vivek and Fardeen are just superb!! The film's got so many hilarious sequences, most of the comedy's done by Vivek and he's just outstanding and so adorable!” A reviewer wrote: “Casting Khan and Oberoi in these roles was a brilliant decision. The two share an amazing on-screen camaraderie and their comic timing is spot on.” With many of Bollywood’s male-male relationships either supporting or adversarial, it was wonderful and refreshing to see the implicit devotion and us-against-the-world attitude between the two friends in this movie, as well as the subtle plug for overcoming disability and hardship, which both actors always portray well. In 2006 Vivek was also seen in the supporting role of Kesu in Vishal Bharadwaj’s masterpiece Omkara. Even though it was a smaller role, Vivek’s performance was praised, and he won the Best Supporting Actor at the Bollywood Movie Awards.

Though appreciated in many of his performances, Vivek was going through a bad time in his career. “Somewhere down the line, I lost the purity of thought that made me passionate about acting. But now, I have rediscovered it.” The role that did this, and that would once again show him as a powerhouse of an actor, was Maya Dolas in Shootout at Lokhandwala. To get into the skin of the role, Vivek did extensive research and transformed himself into the gangster. He said, “There's reason to be excited since this is a role that any actor would give his right arm for. The character has different shades and it is only a fictional account of the real-life character Maya Dolas. Sanjay Gupta, who is also one of the writers of the film, and director Apoorva Lakhia have given several interesting twists to the role. In that sense, it is part fiction and part realistic. It is indeed a complex character and it has been a challenge to perform the role.” The film was a success and Vivek’s performance was applauded by all with our review saying, “Vivek Oberoi is back in form and gives a solid performance! His depiction of stone-hearted Maya Dolas who is fearless and kills without thinking twice is exceptional. Oberoi manages to set that fear in you and show you that Maya uses fear as a tool to leverage. His death sequence is brutally fabulous. His body language and expressions are amazing and you can tell that he’s done a lot of research on his character. To sum it up, Vivek’s delivered an out and out knockout performance!” For his performance Vivek was honored with the Standout Performance of the Year at the Max Stardust Awards and IIFA Best Villain Award.

In the past, Vivek, like many actors, worked on several projects at a time but he changed to working on only one film at a time with SOAL. He continued that trend with his next project Mission Istanbul, which roars into theatres this Friday. MI is his second film with director Approva Lakhia and in the highly anticipated action film Vivek plays a Turkish commando. About his role in another action film Vivek said, “It's not a conscious decision to do action films. Apoorva offered me the role and the script was fantastic, so I accepted it. The USP (unique selling point) of the film is that it is technically brilliant. It has a new idea and concept. It has a global perspective on terrorism and how India is involved in that global framework.” He added, “I am really excited about this movie. I love my character. It was fun playing him. Everything you imagine as a young kid while watching action movies, all those fantasies came true.”

After two action films back to back, his fans are clamoring to see him in a romantic role. In fact at the IIFA awards some fans told him, “We supported you through Shootout, we are supporting you through Mission Istanbul and are going to see it but it's time you do a love story.” Sadly it will not be his next film but there is one coming. Vivek revealed what was in the pipeline: “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.”

Throughout his career Vivek Oberoi exemplified a truly outstanding actor with his distinctive performances, utilizing a vision and style all of his own. Dealing with a variety of characters, he has proven his ability to live in those characters, and his versatility is displayed with great finesse in every role he performs. In spite of being in the industry for just six years, Vivek A. Oberoi is one of the rising stars destined to be a superstar of Bollywood.

“Apart from cinema, another aspect which gives satisfaction to my soul is social work. Its not really about playing the part of the hero, but just about being able to make a difference.”~ VO

Vivek contributes an enormous amount of time to work with relief and charity organizations. He is a compassionate soul who cares deeply for the underprivileged. Smitha Nambiar wrote of him in an article titled “Vivek - The Tsunami hero”: “Vivek can be termed as more of a social worker than an actor. This might sound strange, but true. The actor and his entire family have dedicated their lives towards the upliftment[sic] of the downtrodden. While his father, Suresh Oberoi has been actively supporting primary education, mother Yashodhara works with terminally ill cancer patients and their families and has also established the Yashodhara Oberoi Foundation. A strong disciple of Pujya Swami Chidanand Saraswatiji's of Parmarth Niketan, Vivek worked extensively to provide both emotional and financial support to all whose lives were devastated by the Tsunami that struck the country on December 26, 2004. In fact, Vivek even adopted the tsunami-devastated Devanampattinam village in Tamilnadu. Sadly, his critics and colleagues have brushed all these acts of kindness aside as publicity stunt. Apparently, during one of the relief operations, a weary man approached Vivek and explained that he had come from Ootacamund with his brother and family for a holiday. But, every member of his family had been washed away in the tsunami. He was still on the lookout for the body of his 3-year-old son and could not be convinced that the boy was dead. As everybody stood there, not knowing how to react, Vivek surprised everybody when he went up to the weeping man and hugged him.”

In July and December of 2005, to promote art awareness and to continue his charity work, Vivek joined with art dealer Ashish Balram Nagpal to showcase the concept of affordable art with a sale where all the paintings were sold at a flat price of Rs.11000 (approximately 245 USD). Vivek personally conducted the sale, and part of the proceeds collected were donated to the Yashodhara Oberoi Foundation for the various causes that it supports, which range from surgery for poor children with ailing hearts to the empowerment of women. As Vivek says, “It is a pleasure to be associated with such a programme as it promotes two things that are very dear to my heart – art and charity. I like to call it Art for Hearts, as part of the proceeds collected will be donated for a cause.”

Another facet of his charity work is that whenever a new film of Vivek’s releases he makes it a point to have a special screening for children from the Cancer Patients Aid Association. For the release of Home Delivery there was a fun-filled afternoon at Fame Adlabs, the highlights of which included a special screening of Home Delivery and a 'meet and greet' session with Vivek Oberoi and fellow star Mahima Chaudhary. Taran Adarsh wrote: “The interaction with Vivek and Mahima was a special moment for cancer patients with jokes being cracked, photographs and autographs being taken and the opportunity to engage with the stars on a one-to-one basis.” He booked an entire theatre in Mumbai’s Andheri area for his film Pyare Mohan to be screened and again afterwards he met with the children, held their hands, and shared laughs with them. He gave them his special and undivided attention.

Each year on his birthday Vivek spends time with children at an orphanage and about this past year he wrote, “ I had the most amazing birthday celebration … all the kids at the orphanage were so excited, they prepared & practiced little dances for me and I loved it!!! They look forward to this day every year and I reward them for all their creativity with a party and loadsa [sic] toys n gifts!!! I must confess I think I get as excited and have as much fun or more than these adorable angels!!! ~VO”

“I realized that when your fans write to you, SMS you, when they reach out to you, you learn just how much they love you. It is the most exhilarating feeling” ~VO

Vivek’s relationship with his fans is something that is amazing and truly special. They love him not only as an actor but as a human being. He has won the hearts of many around the world and he has fans in India, USA, Australia, Singapore, Canada, United Arab Emirates, South Africa, Scotland, France and England, Pakistan, Germany, Saudi Arabia, Russia, Egypt, Malaysia, Morocco, Philippines, New Zealand, Indonesia, S. Korea, Sri Lanka, and Ireland, to name a few. The following are some of the fan messages from one of his fan portals: the ones that particularly stand out are the ones that speak of him as a person as well as an actor. “All this while, I have just considered you as one of those Hindi actors, But now I consider you as one of the best human being around. May you live long my son." "I came to know that you have been helping the victims of Tsunami (Near Caddolore). I was really touched by the way you are extending your support, by personally being there and doing whatever has to be done. Honestly I never heard about any celeb who stays at the place and does good deeds. You also made us feel that we are INDIANS, irrespective of where we are from, North or South, We are ONE. I really appreciate that. I have seen couple of your films and felt good about your presence. After hearing this, I should never miss your movies anymore. Good work man ... we are really proud of you.” While another sent him this message: “I was a member of Vivek's Angels and still proudly call myself your Angel. I have loved every one of your movies especially Saathiya and Home Delivery! Your performance in all your films has been so true and I never feel you are acting, you are the character and that to me is the sign of truly great actor. I am a huge fan and I think you an amazing actor and more importantly an incredible person! I admire you so.”

“I truly love you guys and am thankful to God that I have all of you. My fans are my real strength. Love Vivek”

Vivek has showered his fans with so much love and refers to his fans as his 'extended family'. Vivek has tried his level best to connect with his fans. A few have talked to him; others have even met him and have experienced his warmth and kindness. In a Mid-Day article, Upala wrote about one fan who said that Vivek has been a big help and inspiration to her, she “had literally given up on living her life, when her knight — Vivek Oberoi walked into her life and put her on the road to recovery.” She was born with an underdeveloped lower spine and has had numerous corrective surgeries since her birth. She was a normal teenager until she had a major accident a couple of years ago. She suffered minute fractures in her lower back, which crippled her. After the accident she needed to undergo some difficult treatments and her family and friends felt she wouldn’t be able to do it without some kind of inspiration, and so a caring person in the Bollywood industry contacted Vivek. “Then one day Vivek called me. I was ecstatic. He told me I could call him anytime and we would connect once a month, chat, and, keep each other updated. Everybody was cynical and thought his caring and patience would fizzle out, but it’s been more than a year and he has still kept in touch. He’s been patient with me and makes me feel special. When he was performing at Glasgow he sent me a ticket. There, I got VVIP treatment — traveling in the limousines with him, going out for dinner — the works. Though I was in my wheelchair, I felt I was the luckiest girl in the world. I have recovered a lot today because of Vivek. I have left my wheelchair and walk on crutches now, but I wouldn’t have been able to achieve what I have, without his patience and support.”

Vivek also makes an effort to keep in touch with his fans across the world and when his authorized website was up he would whenever possible come online and post messages, Vivek seemed to enjoy himself thoroughly with his “Angels”, his given name for his fans. In fact very recently he posted this to one of his fan clubs:

“Hey!!! This is Vivek Oberoi and I just wanted to thank all of you from the bottom of my heart for all this amazing love and support you have given me. I genuinely believe that my fans are the greatest in the universe because you have truly stood by me in the worst of times. Your prayers, duas, and good wishes have given me strength and your love has given me inspiration to never give up the fight … to keep trying harder and becoming better in every way that I can, so that all of you can be proud of me. Thank you for believing in me even when I didn’t believe in myself. I am blessed to have you guys with me!!! Loads n loads a love and a BIG HUG to all of you … hope we ROCK IT TOGETHER!!! Always ~VO”

With the glitter in his eyes, passion in his speech, and veracity in his character, Vivek came to take Bollywood by storm. He came to please and amaze with his passion to act, and act with candor and originality. Every word he utters and every feeling he expresses creates concrete imprints in Indian cinema. The love he has for his fans breaks through all barriers. No matter where in the world they are they feel loved by their favorite actor. His work for social causes is something to be honored and to be emulated. He is a young man who always follows his heart and along the way has inspired many. No other actor can compare in performance or in the essence of who he is. He is Vivek Oberoi.

Fun facts:
Nicknames: Rockstar, Tiger

He has 2 brothers, one older and one younger, and also a younger sister.

Vivek was injured during a stunt while filming for a Mani Ratnam’s Yuva. His left leg was fractured in two places and he had to undergo surgery. During that time there were prayers and an outpouring of support from his fans. He was also injured on the set of Kisna.

He was awarded the Red and White Bravery Award for his work after the Tsunami.

He has two boxers - Duke and Ivy.

Originally Ram Gopal Verma thought he was too handsome to play Chandu in Company, but Vivek decided to prove he could take on the challenging role: “But Ramuji found my face too soft for a gangster. He said he needed a gritty and hard character and I looked too conventional. He didn’t think I could do it so I had to convince him and asked for some time to prepare.I wrote a 300-word biographical sketch for my character Chandu. I tried to figure out the way he would talk, the kind of clothes he would wear, how he would interact with people around him. It just helped me understand the character better. On the 11th day, I marched into his office dressed up as Chandu and smoking a bidi. I remember kicking his door open, pulling up a chair and putting my feet up on his desk like I owned the place. I looked him straight in the eye and said, ‘Kya? Kya bolta hai?’ He was completely stunned. It was destiny, because at that very moment, my conventional looking photographs were lying on his desk and his editor and he had just made a decision that I wasn’t right for the role. I was asked to wait outside and my heart was thumping away in frenzy. When Ramuji came out and told me ‘that was brilliant,’ then I started to breathe again.”

Some of his best roles were almost not his:
Saaithya, Company, and Mission Istanbul were originally offered to Abhishek Bachchan but he turned them down. And on the other hand Vivek was originally offered Saif’s role in Hum Tum. Speaking of Saathiya, he and Rani would sometimes shoot for 18 hours a day.

He has a list of things he wants to do before he turns 35 and he only has 5 more years to go.

His hobbies include reading, writing poetry, spending time with family and friends, water sports and adventures and he loves to watch films. Vivek uses Hindi films to unwind and tries to watch one everyday. “I have zero addictions in my life —I don’t drink, smoke, have tea or coffee,” he reveals, “but I need to watch one film everyday. That’s my absolute upper. No matter what I may be going through, if I watch good cinema, I’m back right up.”

Besides acting Vivek also excels at dancing. He has been praised for his dancing ability in all his movies and at this past IIFA awards he burned up the stage with his performance to ‘Apun Ke Saath’.

In Masti they had a name for his hairstyle: “It's called the chappu haircut and its meant to be hilarious. This is my first comedy film and fortunately I don't have this on-screen image which I have to adhere to. I believe that I should go all out for my character even if it takes to have a funny hairstyle.”

He was a dubbing artist for 6 years.

Vivek is listed as a screenwriter and dialogues for Kyun Ho Gaya Na.

He also sold one of his scripts. "I had written a script for Vidhu Vinod Chopra. I was paid a decent amount for it. I bought my first car with that money."

For Mission Istanbul he and costar Zayed Khan performed many of the dangerous stunts themselves including jumping on to a moving helicopter and then jumping off into the Turkish sea as the helicopter exploded. They also had to jump off a 40 foot tower building and the two enjoyed it so much they did six takes. In fact the stunt director had to stop them from doing more.

Once said: “The funny thing is that I’ve always felt that if I wasn’t an actor, I wouldn’t really be me. If you remove the actor out of me, I don’t think there’s much left. People work for a living and I live to work. Acting is not just my profession, it’s my passion.”

His most recent message to his fans was:

“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.”

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