11 years of Omkara: When Vivek Oberoi and Ajay Devgn made Saif Ali Khan run topless

Actor Vivek Oberoi talks about his role of Kesu Firangi in the film Omkara (2006), which was adapted from the play Othello, written by William Shakespeare.

bollywood Updated: Jul 28, 2017 11:06 IST
Samarth Goyal
Samarth Goyal
Hindustan Times
Bollywood,Omkara,Ajay Devgn
Actor Vivek Oberoi worked with Ajay Devgn for the fifth time in the 2006 film Omkara.

New Delhi

Unlike his debut film, Company (2002), actor Vivek Oberoi didn’t have to prepare much for the role of Kesu Firangi in the popular film Omkara (2006), which was adapted from Shakespeare’s play, Othello. The story revolved around how a politically minded enforcer’s [portrayed by Ajay Devgn] misguided trust in his lieutenant [Saif Ali Khan] led him to suspect his wife [portrayed by Kareena Kapoor Khan] of infidelity. As the film celebrates its 11th anniversary today, Vivek talks about the challenges of working in a Vishal Bharadwaj film, his relationship with Ajay and more. Excerpts:

How did you prepare for the role of Kesu Firangi?
I didn’t do much for the role. My character had gone to college, and could speak English, so I got away by not learning the typical dialect that Ajay and Saif had to speak in. So from that perspective, it was pretty easy. But it was a challenging role overall aspects. The most difficult thing I had to do in the film was to play the guitar. I didn’t know how to play it, so every time we were on the set and I wasn’t shooting, I used to practise. Apart from the teacher brought in by Vishal sir, one of the most unexpected teachers I had was Saif. He used to just snatch the guitar from me and start playing, and then later would teach me. He is a fantastic guitarist and a great teacher.

The film is adapted from Shakespeare’s Othello. How was your character (Kesu) different from Cassio’s character in the original play?
The play doesn’t explain the nature of relationship between Othello and Cassio. In the film, the relationship between Kesu and Omkara or Omi Bhaiya as he calls it is shown beautifully. Vishal Ji explained that relationship better and you could see the mutual trust both characters had for each other. He (Kesu Firangi) is very surprised in the end when he learns that Omi bhaiya thinks I have fallen in love with Dolly bhabhi. You won’t find that in the play.

Also Read: 11 years of Omkara: Deepak Dobriyal decided to be jobless for a year after the film

This was your fifth film with Ajay Devgn after you debuted with him in Company. Was it different shooting with him in Omkara?
By the time we shot for Omkara, Ajay had become like an elder brother to me. Between Company and Omkara, I had one film with him every year . For Omkara, I was like his assistant when it came to playing pranks. We played one on Saif, and it was hilarious.

What did you guys do?
When we were shooting for a scene in the Prayag temple in Allahabad, we had heard that a few real bahubalis [UP gangsters] wanted to “kidnap us” and treat us in their style. So we were shooting the scene in the morning, and luckily me and Ajay were done with our portions, and we were ready to leave on the chopper. Saif was yet to shoot his scenes, and we kept on teasing him for that, saying things like ‘ we are going yaar, our shooting is over’ or ‘ hope you have enough security around.’ We had just sat in the chopper, when we later saw Saif bolting towards us after his scene got over. He didn’t change, and he was running topless in a dhoti towards the chopper! It was hilarious.

Beedi Jalaile, picturised on you and Bipasha, is still one of the best dance anthems. What are your memories of the song?
I remember that Vishal ji told told Gulzar saab, ‘ maine aapse kuch nai manga, lekin aaj mang raha hun. Mujhe ek hit gaana chaiyeh’. Gulzar saab had that typical child like smile on his face, and two minutes later he came up with the lines- “beedi jalaile jigar se piya. Jigar ma badi aag hai’. Rest is history.

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First Published: Jul 28, 2017 11:04 IST