Initially, it felt like an alien appendage on my face.I would wake up wondering what was tickling my nose. But by the end of the film, my fingers would stray towards it, to twirl its ends, only to find that I’d shaved it off,” laughs Vivek Oberoi, reminiscing about the moustache he sports in the two-part Rakht Charitra.
The film is inspired by the true-life story of Paritala Ravindra, a soft-spoken student who retreated into the jungles and became a outlaw to avenge his father and brother’s deaths. He was the prime accused in innumerable murder cases, yet went on to become the hand of justice and a Minister of Labour in NT Rama Rao’s cabinet.
He survived numerous assassination attempts, before being was gunned down in 2005 in broad daylight. Congress leader Suryanarayana Reddy, popularly known as Maddela Cheruvu Suri, was allegedly behind the murder, planned to avenge his own father's and brother's deaths in a bizarre instance of déjà vu.
Producer-director Ramgopal Varma admits that he locked on his former protégé to play Ravi because of the “remarkable intensity in his eyes, a voice that commands attention, an inherent arrogance and power in his stance, as well as a certain vulnerability, which makes one instantly warm up to him”. His only demand was that the actor grow a mooch.
Ramu and he had drifted away after Road (2002). What brought about the reconciliation? “Ramgopal Varma was my mentor and naturally he was disappointed when he saw me squandering away the opportunity he’d given me. Then, he heard that I’d changed. Maybe he saw the same fire in my eyes again. That’s when he offered me what is the most challenging role of my career. A
moustache was only a small price to pay,” he smiles. “I’m hoping to work with Ramu again. We have a certain equation… a chemistry… and he brings out the best in me.”
Engaged to Priyanka Alva, the future looks bright to Oberoi. And the past that includes Aishwarya Rai Bachchan and Salman Khan, is a closed chapter: “I’ve gone through a process of karmic cleansing. There was no agenda, I just wanted to untie the knots and clear my karma so I could move ahead. There have been a lot of stories about me in the press.
I thank my friends who have worked harder than any marriage broker to find me a match. I’ve got my Miss Right, finally, and all’s well.”