Vivek Oberoi recalls changing in restaurant toilets during ‘Saathiya’ shoot: ‘I didn’t have a makeup van’


Once a fledgling actor, Vivek Oberoi ventured into the Bollywood scene with high hopes and dreams that were quickly met with the gritty realities of filmmaking. During an intimate conversation with Humans of Bombay, Vivek recounted the bygone days of his early career, particularly the shooting of ‘Saathiya’, a romantic drama that would later become a stepping stone in his acting journey.

Vivek Oberoi, today known for his versatile roles across various genres, had a modest start with unconventional breakthroughs such as Ram Gopal Varma’s ‘Company’ and ‘Road’. The son of veteran actor Suresh Oberoi, Vivek shared that his initial experiences in the film industry were far from glamorous or effortless.

Reminiscing about the demanding shoot of ‘Saathiya’, a film where he starred alongside Rani Mukerji, Vivek revealed startling details of the production’s limited resources. “When I was shooting for ‘Saathiya’, ‘Company’ hadn’t released. I was shooting on railway stations, I used to be sleeping on the benches because we had no budget,” he told the interviewer. This resourcefulness extended to makeshift dressing rooms, as he continued, “I used to change clothes in restaurant toilets because I didn’t have a makeup van.” Their packed schedule required them to film four scenes a day, with work days sometimes extending up to 20 hours. The grueling work also saw Vivek reverting to tasks he had performed before his acting days, such as carrying equipment on set.

Vivek’s versatility and openness to explore varied roles were emphasized when he discussed his decision to take on ‘Saathiya’, despite dissenting opinions from his peers and his mentor, Ram Gopal Varma. Varma had reservations about Vivek undertaking a romantic film when action roles were creating his niche. “Everybody said don’t do ‘Saathiya’. ‘You are an action hero. How can you do a love story?'” Vivek recounted. Yet, inspired by Mani Ratnam’s ‘Alaipayuthey’, the original Tamil film that ‘Saathiya’ was based on, he defied the naysayers. The directorial venture of school friend Shaad Ali had initially been planned with Abhishek Bachchan; however, when plans fell through, Vivek stepped in.

Despite the bumpy commencement, Vivek Oberoi’s career trajectory took a steep climb. He has since featured in critically acclaimed and blockbuster films such as ‘Kaal’, ‘Omkara’, ‘Shootout at Lokhandwala’, and ‘Krrish 3’, as well as essaying the role of the Indian Prime Minister in the ‘PM Narendra Modi’ biopic. His adaptability and talent have also led him to take roles in popular OTT platforms, showcasing his exemplary performance in series like ‘Inside Edge’ and ‘Dharavi Bank’.

Most recently, Vivek has been seen headlining the web series ‘Indian Police Force’, an action-packed drama directed by the eminent Rohit Shetty. The series boasts a star-studded ensemble including Sidharth Malhotra, Shilpa Shetty Kundra, and Nikitin Dheer, amongst others. This role further solidifies his capacity to captivate audiences in a genre that he was once advised to steer clear of, highlighting his triumph against typecasting in the industry.

Vivek’s career thus far manifests the resilience and dedication that underlie success in Bollywood. From covert costume changes in public restrooms to carrying the weight of a role against the grain, his evolution in the entertainment world is both commendable and inspiring. His narrative is a testament to the unpredictable and challenging path an actor traverses, one that sometimes starts on a railway station bench but can lead to the pinnacle of cinematic fame and acclaim.

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