He had almost become a walking-talking male Rapunzel with flowing hair. Now sheared, he is also straightening out his career with a vengeance. Evidently memories of liaisons, hurts and beffudlement are behind him. So, here's a new, improved Viveik Oberoi confabulating with Roshmila Bhattacharya.
Hey, what happened to the hair?
(Laughs) I cut it. For the Tips film that I'll be shooting in South Africa I need a short cut. So it was snip, snip. Now I'm more sympathetic to female co-stars when they turn up 20 minutes late. <b1>
I know how long it takes to shampoo, blow dry and set your hair. You seem to have lost weight too.
I've been learning a martial arts called Parkour from Dean Alexandrou from London. I'll be doing a lot of stunts, flying through the air without cables for the film. I'm also working with a Thai trainer in Muay Thai, a mix of Thai kickboxing and Akido.
You're playing a superhero or what?
In a way, yes. (Laughs) But I'll be a superhero without a costume. It's a solo hero film after a long time.
You're also doing a romantic film after years, 7G Rainbow Colony, which is a Hindi remake of a Tamil hit. Right?
Mani (Ratnam) told me to see it. His assistant Selvaraghavan directed the original and will be doing the Hindi remake too for UTV. I'm waiting for them to give me the Hindi script.
Have you signed a deal with UTV?
No, it's just this one film. I'm an actor, not a corporate guy. And I'm commitment shy.
Even in personal life?
I knew this was coming. How did I walk into the trap?<b2>
Will you ever work with Aishwarya Rai again?
Sure, why not? As a professional I have no problems working with anyone. But I work with directors, not with actors and actresses.
What about Salman Khan? He still hates you for that press conference.
He has reason to be displeased. It's not the best thing I've done in my life. But I have apologised to him.
You've been trying to patch up with the Bachchans. Recently, you are said to have dropped in on the sets of Aladdin to meet Amitabh Bachchan?
I was invited to drop by on the sets by the director Sujoy Ghosh. We worked together in Home Delivery. Sujoy is a friend. Jackie (Shroff) and Riteish (Deshmukh) were there too and we got chatting. Then I heard that Amitji was there as well and I went to his van to say hello.
Apparently, you went on a pilgrimage recently.
It was more a ‘thank you' trip. In our family, whenever something good happens, we first celebrate it with god.. my sister will be getting married soon. I went with my mother to Vaishnodevi and Rishikesh. We walked all the way up.
Were you mobbed?
Wherever I go I'm greeted with calls of "Oye Mayabhai" even though it's been a year since
Shootout At Lokhandwala's
release. (Laughs) Even the girls go, "Maya, Maya." And I'm not complaining.
Have the real
bhaisbeen calling too?
There were a few calls after
. But now I've become a recluse, I live in my own space.
Contract, Ram Gopal Varma's next, is supposed to end the gangster trilogy preceded by
Really? I should check out the promos then. Ramu's my godfather.
Oh, then what's this about your fallout with him. You're even supposed to have turned down an offer from him.
Ramu had offered me a film one of his assistants was directing. I told him I'd do a film which he was directing, not just producing.
You shocked Shyam Benegal by quoting a Rs 6 crore fee.
Nonsense, I met Shyambabu recently at IIFA and he congratulated me on my performance and winning an award. We've been talking movies, I'll be working with him soon, definitely.
And he'll pay you Rs 6 crore?
Let's not discuss money. I charge what I think fit.
You also turned down Prakash Jha's
I wanted to do it but the dates clashed with those of Karan's (Johar) film with Saif (Ali Khan) and Kareena (Kapoor). I'm looking forward to Karan's film because he dresses up his men really well.
And now that I've lost all the puppy fat he's also keen to give me a new look. Even more hearteningly, I've been cast as the good guy.
You mean Mission Istanbul's Rizwan Khan is a baddy like Maya Dolas of Shootout at Lokhandwala?
No, they are poles apart. Maya was a bad guy, Rizwan is the good guy who takes on the bad guys. He's a dude with an attitude. (Laughs) He's what Apu (director Apoorva Lakhia) wanted to be like in real life.
Any terrifying encounters in Istanbul?
Terrifying? No, Istanbul was more than welcoming. Wherever I went I could see Turkish beauties smiling at me. Men wanted to shake hands. I'd walk into a crowded restaurant and get a seat right away .
That would baffle us till I was told that a Turkish superstar looked a lot like me. After that, I milked the resemblance for all it was worth. (Laughs) I even called my father and asked him if he had been to Istanbul some 30 years ago.
Are you upset with Apoorva Lakhia because he's switched loyalties to Zayed Khan who will be in his next film.
Yeah, Apu and I have been fielding such questions. But the fact that I'm the only one from the cast who's still to see the film should tell you how much I trust Apu.
So why hasn't he been promoting you?
I'm not playing a lover boy. I'm the dhishum dhishum dude. The music promos started early so it's .. been Zayed mostly. But we shot a music video recently with Mika singing for me again. Apun ke saath jo bhi ladega should be on air soon.
Mission Istanbul has both George Bush and Osama Bin Laden lookalikes. Aren't you treading into touchy territory?
When I did Company I was told, "What's wrong with you? You're playing with fire." Anyway that's always the director's call, not the actor's.