Ask Vivek Oberoi about whether he could ever work with Salman Khan and Aishwarya Rai Bachchan — two actors he’s shared a rather public, troubled past with — and Vivek is quick to respond, “I have no hard feelings towards anyone. By the grace of God, I’m too happy a man to be upset about anything right now.”
Those in the know will recall what had upset Vivek most in 2003: alleged phone calls and threats from Salman. He had called a press conference then, complaining to his fans. Salman was his then girlfriend’s (Aishwarya Rai’s) ex. Enough water has flown under the bridge since. Vivek has apologised to Salman on various occasions, at public events (Salman on the other hand has chosen to ignore his folded hands). Aishwarya is, of course, married and settled in with Abhishek Bachchan.
Though Vivek isn’t slated to work with either Salman or Aishwarya any time soon, he has signed a few films with their friends. He will be seen in Paaki, produced by Mani Ratnam, who shares a close bond with the former Miss World. Aishwarya’s co-star from Dhoom 2 (2006), Jodhaa Akbar (2008) and Guzaarish (2010) — Hrithik Roshan — will work with Vivek in Krissh 2, and Salman’s friend Sanjay Dutt will soon share screen space with him in Zila Ghaziabad.
Even though the actor – after a seriously poor patch at the box-office — is looking ahead now, he makes it a point to credit his friends, family and fans for dragging him out of his depressed state: “They would tell me they loved me and my work, which made me realise why I was here,” he says, adding that Hrithik was one of his first friends to reach out to him. “On a personal level, he was really there for me.”
Drawing parallels to the character he essays in Mani’s Paaki, a biopic, the actor says the part comes easily to him: “The story is of an Indian man, who faces racism in the ’70s and ’80s, and is oppressed. Yet, he chooses not to be a victim. He learns how to survive
and thrive,” he says. “When I faced adversities, it would have been easy for me to hang up my boots. But I didn’t cower.”
Salman and Aishwarya broke up officially in 2002 after Ash had, according to rumours and reports, complained of physical abuse by Salman. After this, Salman had reportedly stormed onto the sets of the Abhishek Bachchan-starrer Kuch Na Kaho, and thereafter, on the sets of the Shah Rukh Khan movie, Chalte Chalte. Aishwarya was dropped from the latter.
After breaking up with Salman, Aishwarya had reportedly dated Vivek Oberoi. This had caused a problem between Salman and Vivek, something Vivek had made public, at a press conference in his house, announcing that he had received threats from Salman, who had called him 41 times through the night.
During this period, Vivek and Ash had worked together in the film, Kyon… Ho Gaya Na, which bombed at the theatres. According to reports, the two broke up eventually. Aishwarya married Abhishek at last.