Hits and misses is what best describes actor Vivek Oberoi’s chequered career. Ten years ago, Vivek Oberoi had everything going for him. His performance as Kesu Firangi — the anglicised lover-boy in UP’s badlands in Omkara (2006), was just another feather in his cap. He already had films such as Company (2002), Saathiya (2002), and Yuva (2004) to his credit. After Omkara, his career saw a string of flops, even oblivion at one point. Oberoi even tried the dark side and played the antagonist in Krissh 3 (2013). He was last seen in Bank Chor (2017) as CBI officer Amjad Khan. Now the actor, 40, is making his debut in the digital world with Amazon’s Inside Edge, a web series which delves into the murky world of cricket, cheerleaders, betting, and power-hungry people, who inhabit that world. Oberoi plays the whisky-guzzling, jet-setter Vikrant Dhawan.
Excerpts from an interview:
Inside Edge appears inspired by real events — a heroine who owns a team, a star cricket player, an ace coach and a king maker.
This world of cricket and betting is very real, but the characters in them are all fictitious. You may love cricket, you may hate it, but in this country you cannot ignore it. Everyone has heard the word match fixing. What is this world, how does it function, how do the people involved make such copious amounts of money — the show is all about this and more.
You play Vikrant Dhawan, a ruthless power hungry man. Tell us about him.
I have never played such a character before. Vikrant thinks he is the master of the universe, he is the mind behind the game, and that the people in his life are all pawns in it. Power is his drug. He will do anything to get it. There are no rules in his book, and when you have such an extreme character, it’s a challenge to play it.
The digital space is at a nascent stage in India. What made you come on board Inside Edge?
I am an active consumer of desi and international digital content. I know I am one of the few from the mainstream who are jumping into it. This world has a no-holds barred policy, no censorship, and it can be as real as possible. The budgets and scale are at par with any major film. Also look at figures. Digital content has an audience of 200 countries across the globe. In India, about two and a half crore people watch films in cinema halls, and it’s not just Hindi cinema which is competing for their attention, but regional offerings as well. With 40 crore smartphone users in the country, digital content has potentially 20 times that audience. This is even bigger than the big screen. I think I am way ahead of the curve on this one.
Your career has been marked by significant periods of absence.
In 2013, my son Vivaan Vir was born. Five years before that, I was shooting four-five films a year, and between films, my business, and my charitable endeavours, I was occupied for nearly 320 days a year. I missed out on my son’s first steps, his first words. That’s when I questioned what success meant to me and if I wanted to continue to be part of the rat race. Acting was one pillar in my life, it was time to balance the others that were important to me.
There has been ample coverage about your many ‘comebacks’ and how your career is done and dusted. Did it effect you at any point?
I have the record for the most amount of eulogies in my career. They started writing my eulogies in 2003, I am still around. I am enjoying myself immensely, I have never given any thought to success or failure. Right now, I am enjoying what I do and getting paid well to do it.