In the midst of promoting his film PM Narendra Modi, actor-producer Vivek Oberoi has ended up upsetting social media users. He received severe backlash from Twitterati earlier this week after sharing an offensive meme featuring Aishwarya Rai Bachchan. Celebrities like Sonam Kapoor, Anupam Kher, Madhur Bhandarkar and others called him out for posting the meme in bad taste which prompted the actor to apologise and delete the tweet. Post this blunder, he tweeted, “Sometimes what appears to be funny and harmless at first glance to one, may not be so to others. I have spent the last 10 years empowering more than 2000 underprivileged girls. I can’t even think of being disrespectful to any woman ever. Even if one woman is offended by my reply to the meme, it calls for remedial action. Apologies.. tweet deleted.”
He even told media that he found the post funny and did not understand “why people are making a big deal about this.”
“Someone sent me a creative meme where I was being made fun of. I just wrote, ‘Ha ha,’ and appreciated the other person. When someone makes fun of you, you should laugh and not take it so seriously. I even wrote there that there’s nothing political about it. It’s life and such things happen in life that you are with someone and then you move on in life,” he said. But his antics haven’t gone well with the public.
The actor has been in the news lately for his upcoming film PM Narendra Modi which was initially scheduled to release just before the elections, but the Opposition, who deem it as propaganda, approached Election Commission to stall the release saying it was violation of model code of conduct. But Vivek says that he did not let any kind of negativity, around the film affect him. “I can’t change what has happened. I have to move on in life. It’s not a propaganda film. Spreading the news that our film is a propaganda film, was the biggest propaganda. Narendra Bhai was standing at one side and all the parties coming together as ‘Maha Gatbandhan’ on other side. Every political party was trying to stop the film, which was shocking.”
He adds that he wasn’t prepared for such a reaction from political parties. “I had always thought that political parties believed in freedom of speech and they will not have an objection to the film. They should be confident of their work and communication with voters, and not get scared by a film based on the life of one leader,” he says.
Directed by Omung Kumar, PM Narendra Modi also stars Darshan Kumar, Boman Irani, Manoj Joshi and others.
Producing the film
Vivek has not only acted in, but also produced the film along with Sandip Ssingh, Anand Pandit, Acharya Manish. “Narendra bhai’s journey from being a chaiwala to the PM is absolutely unbelievable. What fascinated me was his journey. We know him after he became the chief minister of Gujarat, but there are so many aspects to his life,” Vivek says, adding, “I have seen his journey from CM to PM. I understand his ideas, vision. I found a personal connect. His critics call him arrogant but I think he is extremely humble. He remembers conversations and names.”
The actor who received critical appreciation for films like Company, Sathiya, Omkara, Shootout at Lokhandwala, Rakta Charitra and others, says that there were multiple challenges while playing the character of Modi. “You have to be committed to the spirit of the character because so many people look up to him and are inspired by him,” says Vivek adding that when he initially tried to imitate Modi, it came off as mimicry.
“I had to catch minute details about his personality, like how he pronounces certain words, his mannerisms and so on. I watched over 1000 hours of his footage,” he says.
Vivek shares that his physical transformation with prosthetics involved five-six hours of make-up. “I used to reach the sets post midnight to start the make up and the shoot would begin at 7 am. It was a different and challenging experience for me,” he recalls.
Getting the ‘soul of the character’ was also a task. “Narendrabhai’s got a certain power in his eyes. I wanted to bring that from within. I performed an unusual exercise as a method actor which I hadn’t done before. Five months before starting the shoot, I turned completely satvik. I had vegetarian food, woke up at 4 am, did meditation and yoga just like Narendrabhai. It was difficult initially because it requires a lot of discipline. But it brought about a huge transformation and I still practise it,” says the actor.
There’s so much hype around the film, but he claims to not let the pressure affect him. “I believe in being fearless because being fearful is waste of time. It stops you from doing great things in life. As far as critics are concerned, my team and I are prepared for ideological reviews. A film may or may not change somebody’s ideologies and I understand that. I am prepared for both — bouquets and brickbats,” he signs off.