After 15 years in showbiz, Vivek Oberoi is a debutante again. The handsome actor is making his Tamil debut in the much-awaited film Vivegam alongside Ajith. This might be his first Tamil movie, but the actor has a strong south connect. He has worked with ace director Mani Rathnam on the Hindi versions of runaway hits in Tamil such as Alaipayuthe (Saathiya) and Yuva (Ayutha Ezhuthu) and has starred alongside Suriya in the Telugu-Hindi blockbuster Raktha Charithram.
And, the relationship doesn’t end there! His mother is Tamil and his wife is South Indian. Vivek understands Tamil pretty well. So, ask him why it took so long for his Tamil debut, he said “I am very choosy about the movies I pick. I have my businesses and charitable organisations that keep me busy. So when I pick a movie, it is after considerable thought. When Vivegam first came to me, I wasn’t so sure. It is not my natural language, double the effort, and the shooting will be in freezing cold countries. But with just 15 minutes of Siva sir’s narration, I agreed. The passion with which he was narrating convinced me and I wanted to work with him”.
He further added that he hadn’t seen director Siva’s work until then. “It was only after the entire narration, I went back and saw Veeram and Vedhalam. I could see the chemistry between them. Both of them are great films but I personally feel Vivegam is a notch above,” he remarked.
Amid intense speculation that he plays the villain in the film, Vivek said his character Aryan, is AK’s best friend on screen. But the actor refused to divulge further when asked if his character would spring a surprise, “I don’t believe in spoliers. Discover it for yourself,” he said.
Vivek who affectionately calls Ajith ‘anna’ (Brother) shared that he was impressed by the Tamil star’s humility. “I remember the first time I met him. It was in Bulgaria, our first day of shooting together. Ajith anna walked up to me and said, ‘It is such an honour that you’re part of this film. Thank you for accepting.’ He spoke with such warmth and humility that I was taken aback,” he narrated.
The actor added, “I told him that it was my honour. He smiled when I said ‘honestly speaking I am big fan of Shalini ma’am.’ I loved her in Alaipayuthe.”
Vivek also said that he was inspired by Ajith’s commitment, “When we started shooting, he had told me that he was fat in Vedhalam but wanted to be fit for Vivegam. Throughout shoot, he was so committed to his diet and workout. In Serbia, I used to hit the gym at 5 in the morning to train and Ajith anna was there before me every morning.”
“While I was feeling cold even after layers of clothing, Ajith anna shot a bare body shot in freezing temperatures. We shared good chemistry but I started looking up to him as my elder brother only due to his values. That is what makes him special,” he said.
Incidentally, Vivegam also stars Kajal Agarwal, who made her debut in Vivek’s movie, Kyun! Ho Gaya Na. “The director showed me a picture of Kajal and asked me if we could cast her as the heroine’s friend. I had asked him to cast her saying she is beautiful and has big expressive eyes. I think she was a teenager back then,” the actor reminisced.
“In Vivegam, there is this scene where she had to be tearful but at the same time portray strength. I have seen Kajal’s work. I have seen her do bubbly, lively roles mostly. But she nailed that expression in one take. I am incredibly proud of her growth,” he said.
Talking about Akshara Haasan who is also making her Tamil debut with Vivegam, Vivek said, “Kutti (small) bomb, periya blast. Akshara is an explosion of talent. She has done some great action in the film. She is a smart girl to choose such a different debut. Kamal sir, Sarika ma’am and Sruthi should be very proud of her.”
The actor was recently seen in Amazon’s webseries Insider Edge which received rave reviews. A web series, a long due Kollywood debut, is Vivek in an exploratory phase? “Rather Vivek is crazy,” he answered with a laugh. “I enjoy experimenting. No platform is small. If I enjoy the experience, I won’t mind acting on a small stage in a 100 seater theatre as well,” he reasoned.
“When I did Inside Edge a lot of people told that I am ending my career – that people might think that I don’t have work. If I think about others, I won’t be able to live my life; I do my own thing and I believe in what I do. Only 2.25 crore people watch movies in theater while 40 crore people have smartphones already. Why wouldn’t want I to reach out to them?” he asked.
While the actor said that he took much effort to get his Tamil right, he hasn’t dubbed for himself. “I am a perfectionist like that, when someone is watching a movie they shouldn’t get disturbed by the slightest hint of an accent in my voice. Thus I requested Siva sir to get the same guy who dubbed for me in Prince and Raktha Charithram. He has a done a great job, I should thank him.”