People ask me if I have become a Modi bhakt, but I am a desh bhakt, says Vivek Oberoi about PM Modi biopic
After courting several controversies, Vivek Oberoi’s next film, a biopic on Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, releases today. In what was a “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity” for him, Vivek reveals that this film and this role will stay with him for a very long time. Excerpts from an interview:
A lot of people are of the opinion that this could be your come back film…
After 17 years of being in this industry and probably holding the record for the highest number of obituaries being written for my career, I don’t subscribe to any of this seriously any more. People say I have come back, but where had I gone? I am right here like I always was. People told me to not do Inside Edge and that it would be a huge mistake. But I was like, “You know what, I love the medium, I am going to do it”. And a successful season and an Emmy nomination later, everyone said “well done”.
Before you started work on the film, did you get to meet the Prime Minister?
I had the privilege of having a friendship with him since the time he was the Chief Minister of Gujarat. I have had the good fortune of spending a lot of time with him through his journey from Chief Minister to Prime Minister. It was a once in a lifetime opportunity to be able to play the role of the Prime Minister in a biopic while he is serving as the PM of this nation. I have done maybe 46 films in six languages and most characters, once you finish shooting, you leave behind. But there are some characters that leave an impact and this role was that for me. People ask me if I have become a Modi bhakt, but I am a desh bhakt. I truly love my nation and that patriotic fervor reflects in our film.
The film’s release date was changed multiple times after the Election Commission said that the film will tilt the electoral balance of the particular political party…
I didn’t anticipate this kind of a reaction. I can understand a mahaghatbandhan against Modiji but I was surprised as to why such big political leaders would gang up together to stop the release of the film. What happened to freedom of speech and freedom of expression? Dragging us from court to court- it was a lot of drama and I felt like it was very undemocratic. Our film is not a propaganda film but there was a lot of propaganda against us.
You expressed displeasure when nobody from nobody from Bollywood came forward to support the film, when it was embroiled in controversies...
It wasn’t displeasure, it was disappointment. Let’s just take an academic look at what happened with us. We were protected until now by the Supreme Court. Once you have the CBFC certificate, no one can stop the film from releasing. But since we didn’t band together as a fraternity, it now gives EC (Election commission) far reaching rights on any film, not just a film that could be political in nature, at any time, to shut down our film and not let it release. Because they feel, not that they can prove that whatever is shown in the film can have an influence on the voters. This is what the industry has lost. I don’t hold a grudge but to me, this was yet another disappointment with the lack of unity in my fraternity. Whether or not we subscribe to an ideology or whether or not our political inclinations are the same, as a fraternity, we must unite.
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