Vivek Oberoi is in the news: for ascribing the reason for his failure in Bollywood to someone else. In the past, he had blamed Aishwarya Rai and his own arrogance for his downfall. In an interview with Farah Khan, he had mentioned how his then friend Aishwarya Rai instigated him to hold a press conference against Salman Khan on April 1, 2003.
This move had backfired spectacularly and affected both his reputation and his career. He also confessed how success went to his head and he misbehaved with a number of people. He said that he had even ticked off Aditya Chopra by spurning his offer to star in ‘Hum Tum’.
After his disastrous press conference in 2003, a ‘fatwa’ was issued against him and he became an ‘outcast’ overnight, he claims. He was drummed out of a string of movies and top producers/directors started giving him a wide berth. The oblique reference is towards Salman that this all happened to him at the superstar’s behest. So do his assertions hold water?
First things first, the only thing that matters in Bollywood is the Box Office. Producers and directors give two hoots about who stars sleep or fight with as long as they have the capability to generate hefty financial returns for them. Salman has had spats with Aishwarya Rai, Shah Rukh Khan and Ranbir Kapoor but were their careers ruined? Ultimately, it boils down to how well the star’s movies are faring at the ticket window and whether it is lucrative to invest in him or her. Major stars — from Dilip Kumar to Rajesh Khanna to Amitabh Bachchan to SRK — have got into dust-ups, even brawls, with someone or the other, but since they possessed acting chop and Box Office clout, their fortunes didn’t diminish.
Also, his assertion that a ‘fatwa’ was issued against him and he was being shunned by big directors/producers is a flagrant untruth. One just needs to check his list of movies after that press conference to take the wind out of his sails. To begin with, perhaps, the most powerful producer in the industry Aditya Chopra offered him ‘Hum Tum’ right after that incident. Since Vivek was high on insolence, he not only refused the offer but also insulted the Chopra scion. By the time, he apologized, it was too late. Then he turned down Farah Khan and Shah Rukh Khan (who was the producer) when they approached him for ‘Om Shanti Shanti’. Later, Vivek said that rejecting those two movies (which were offered to him post April 1, 2003) was the biggest mistake of his life.
Now, look at some movies that he signed and the illustrious names associated with them. 2004 – ‘Yuva’ (Mani Ratnam), ‘Kyun! Ho Gaya Na’ (Boney Kapoor); 2005 – ‘Kisna’ (Subhash Ghai); ‘Kaal’ (Karan Johar); 2006 – ‘Omkara’ (Vishal Bhardwaj), ‘Pyare Mohan’ (Inder Kumar). So in the next three years after his press conference, he worked with directors like Mani Ratnam, Subhash Ghai and Vishal Bhardwaj, and producers such as Karan Johar Boney Kapoor and Inder Kumar. These are some of the most illustrious names in Bollywood and they all lined up to sign him up. But since all these movies sank without a trace and producers/distributors suffered heavy losses and he was no longer a bankable star, filmmakers started overlooking and shunning him. And this has happened to all stars: when their movies flop continuously, top filmmakers stop coming to them with offers.
The fact that Vivek worked with an array of top-tier producers and directors and kept getting offers from big names till three years after that press conference is a clincher that his execrable choice of movies (which subsequently came a cropper at the Box Office) queered his pitch, not a spat with someone. His complacence towards work and petulance towards filmmakers were his undoing. Even Ram Gopal Varma, his mentor who gave him a break with ‘Company’, was mighty miffed with him because of his boorishness and did not work with him for seven years.
Even after 2006, Vivek didn’t learn any lessons and was more busy slandering Aishwarya in scurrilous interviews than striving to resurrect his sagging career.
As a result he never recovered from the low phase and was ultimately resigned to playing side roles in largely ‘B’ grade movies, most of which continued to tank. A career that started on a promising note with ‘Company’ and ‘Saathiya’ was cosigned to the scrapheap. A fine actor who was destined to become a king turned out to be pipsqueak.
Vivek only has himself to blame for the utter ruin he find himself amidst today. Perhaps, he didn’t come across the famed truism, ‘There are no permanent friends or enemies in Bollywood’. At the end of the day, it is one’s sincerity towards the work, resolve, choice of movies, acting finesse and most importantly Box Office viability that keep you afloat. Rest is just chimera.