The unexpected clamping-down on the much-debated biopic on Prime Minister Narendra Modi would affect Vivek Oberoi much more than anyone else associated with the film. And not only because Vivek is/was (lets face it, the EC verdict has killed the film) a producer on the project. Not even because it is said that Vivek Oberoi's politically-connected in-laws have a big hand in concretising the project.
But mainly because Vivek's career as a leading man in Bollywood is all but over.
And not for the want of talent. Only opportunities. Some say Vivek paid a price for taking on Salman Khan when the two warred over the dignity of a lady they both loved. But if antagonising Salman could finish off careers then singer Arijit Singh would be on the streets. Salman Khan has become a convenient scapegoat for many failures in the film industry. Simply saying Salman dunnit won't do.
Vivek's failure is still a mystery to me. He had more talent than many of today's supposed superstars. Yes, he was aggressive and flamboyant in his behaviour. But no more or less than Ranveer Singh. But I remember Vivek as a warm, caring and committed human being and actor even after stardom.
Vivek was seeing model Gurpreet Gill when we first got to know one another. He was an obedient, sincere dedicated boyfriend. Gurpreet would often accompany Vivek on his outdoor shootings. And all three of us would share laughs over the heroines hitting on him. That was way back when Vivek had burst on the scene with his raw and riveting performance in Ram Gopal Varma's "Company".
Back then Vivek's heroines hit him. Later some of them just wanted to hit him. I don't know why Vivek became so unpopular within the film industry in such a short time. One reason for his downslide was his high-profile relationship with Salman's former girlfriend. Vivek flaunted his new girlfriend like a trophy and spoke against the man who apparently ill-treated her before Oberoi the Gallahad, galloped into her life as saviour.
But I repeat, the Salman factor couldn't have killed Oberoi's career. Over the years, he has not changed in his behaviour, at least to me. He is still confident, gracious and polite. Marriage and fatherhood have made him a better human being.
So what went wrong with Vivek's career?
Excellent voice, terrific command over Hindi and the ability to look convincing in any role, today Vivek is keeping myself busy playing strong antagonists in Tamil and Telugu films. Now that the Modi biopic has been snubbed and sidelined, Vivek's one hope of redemption and resurrection in Bollywood has crashed.
No, Salman is not smirking. He couldn't care less. And indifference is far more deleterious than hatred. That's where Vivek's career has reached now. Nobody cares.
By Subhash K Jha
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