Vivek's political challenge

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Vivek's political challenge

"For me it started with a lot of people saying 'No way, man. Vivek doesn't look like Narendra Modi… just wrong casting. It's never going to work'," Vivek Oberoi told MAIL TODAY.

They say history is always written by victors and even though Narendra Modi continues as Prime Minister after a landslide victory this week, it is still to be seen whether his eponymous biopic will fare the same at the weekend box office.

Just as the general public sentiment seemed against Modi prior to his victory, critics have panned this Friday's release, PM Narendra Modi and the question remains whether this public unpredictability be witnessed for the Omung Kumar directed film. Whatever its fate, actor Vivek Oberoi who essays the lead role, feels the film teaches a lot through its portrayal of a man who sold chai [tea] at the railway station but went on to become the prime minister of the country.

For Oberoi, who has been caught up in a web of controversies for some time now, and not just because of the film, said it was a role that challenged the actor in him.

For me it started with a lot of people saying No way, man. Vivek doesn't look like Narendra Modi just wrong casting. It's never going to work', Oberoi told MAIL TODAY. And I just said two words: Challenge accepted. Challenge is generally expected to provoke an artist to give it back. It took me some five months to get me into the process.

Oberoi shared he had been refusing producer Sandip Singh offers for some time, but had an instant connect with this script. That was because it's a biopic on Narendra Modi. But it was probably the transformation into a living character the Shootout at Lokhandwala actor found most challenging, and not just the prosthetics.

When you are sitting for straight eight hours in a dentist' chair, getting all the silicone and goo on your face, [it is challenging]. That was one part of the story. When you look at Narendra Modi, he has this sparkle in his eyes, this glow about him. With prosthetics, you can't really create that, said Oberoi.

The transformation was daunting because it was on multiple levels physical, ideological, and, had a spiritual element to it too.

And to find that sparkle in Modi's eyes, he approached his father, veteran actor Suresh Oberoi.

That was an interesting journey. I asked my dad how would you approach it?' And he said I think his strength comes from his discipline. And that's what reflects in his eyes', added Oberoi. I remembered Modiji telling me a long time ago, when he was chief minister of Gujarat, he always wakes up at 4am, no matter what time he goes to bed. He then does his yoga, pranayama and meditation before moving ahead with his day. That's it, I took that holistic approach. I went completely saatvik, I read all the articles about him, put in about a 1000 hours to watch his interviews. The idea was it shouldn't come across as mimicry or to present him as a caricature.

Oberoi was also inspired by Modi's early years of frugality and found his deep connect with the man in patriotism.

He belongs to Gujarat, a state that's all about trading and business. Despite that he never approached any kaka or mama [paternal/maternal uncle] for monetary support to start a trade. Personally, I do a lot of charity myself and one thing I've learned is, charity happens only when your stomach is full. If you are hungry yourself, yet thinking of others, that to me is incredible true patriotism. I come from a family that has freedom fighters on both sides. That was my deep connect with the character, explained Oberoi.

So, is that an indication he's looking to enter politics any time in the future, we query. At this point I'm exiting politics, said Oberoi, laughing. I've been offered candidacy five times since 2004, including byelections. Now my thing is why be an MP when you can be pradhan mantri' [prime minister]?