Thursday, 7 May 2009

The process behind the casting of Vivek Oberoi in RGV's Rakta Charitra

Exclusive by Devansh Patel

Show Ram Gopal Varma a character whose life arouses a curiosity in him, and his flesh begins crawling towards the figure, so fast and precise that by the end of his research, Ramu would not be living his own life, but the life of that character. Now if I recall an incident while interviewing one of the Bollywood celebrities a month back, the actor quoted, "If the casting of your film is right, you've won half your battle". Ok, now hold your thought on both the above quotes.
Right then, it was those coal-black eyes, glistening with absolute conviction and probably malicious intent. It was his first impression that gave us his last. At one point it gave us the shivers, not because he looked horrifying, but because he looked fearless and unstoppable in his quest for revenge. He perpetrated terror in his debut film and there on became a household name. We watched him evolve from a hopeful smart sidekick into an all-powerful, all-controlling 'Chandu'. This character in Ram Gopal Varma's Company was the ultimate anti-social anti-heroes, genuine threats to our way of life - genuine because Vivek Oberoi, the consummate professional, made it so very real. Add to this role his other classic performance in Shoot Out At Lokhandwala, and you realise why the man is an undeniable and deserved antihero. Getting there for these character wasn't easy, especially Chandu's. Thanks to Ram Gopal Varma for bringing the lion out of the den. 'Company' was an overnight success and Oberoi an overnight star.

Back to the present, what if we said - There’s a new Vivek Oberoi movie in theaters this month. Whether you regard that as a threat or a promise depends on how you feel about an up-and-down career that’s unlike any other. But it’s the gift that Ramu has kept on giving: a movie that definitely kickstarted Vivek's career, but only in hindsight, and of course, all in good company. Can't you recall the famous line from the film which goes, 'Sab Ganda Hain Par Dhandha Hain Yeh'?

Since the last twenty four hours, the casting of Vivek Oberoi has started to generate a lot of interest, especially his look in the film. I call it - The rediscovery of the lost diamond and it's time Ramu shines it to perfection. RGV says that he is impressed with the intensity in Vivek's eyes, his voice which commands attention, his arrogance in his demeanour and his powerful stance along with his vulnerability which makes a perfect Paritala Ravi. So is this the reunion we were waiting for? Will this be Vivek's bloody best since Company? Are both back with a vengeance? Questions alone aren't going to provide us the answers. So after RGV, it's the writer of Rakta Charitra, Prashant Pandey, who gets into the act. He says, "Rakta Chritra isn't a biopic but a bio-epic. Casting for such a film requires a certain method and artifice where an actor goes through a metamorphosis to look the part. Vivek's casting is a part of the larger design that RGV has in mind for the film. It’s a character who goes through the most mind boggling inner transformation. I, as an audience and as a writer want to see that."

Ramu once told Prashant, "Vivek has this certain persona which I intend to disentangle in Rakta Charitra." To which the writer adds, "RGV as a director and a person knows his actors minds very well. He has this amazing ability to create characters out of thin air. It looks very easy but he spends a lot of time working out on pauses, inflections, eyes and hand movements, turns, and even a small lift of eyebrows of his imagined characters. For RGV, it's a journey even till the posters are out."

As a journalist who's watched many biopics, I've always felt that nothing screams award-worthy on a film poster as much as the words 'based on a true story' does. Prashant Pandey quotes, "Biopics are essentially a dramatic condensation of someones life. There is a certain unreality and a design to all biopics whether it is Soderbhergs’ Che or Oliver Stones’ film on Jim Morrison, the Doors or even our own BR Chopra’s Mahabharata. Its someone’s life imagined and lived by someones else. So for me its always Paritala Ravi as Vivek rather than Vivek as Paritala Ravi."

History has it that all great biopics went down in cinema as cult classics. Be it Donnie Brasco, Goodfellas, The Last King of Scotland, etc. Now count this - Satya, Company and Sarkar. Weren't they great biopics too? Come to think of it, they were in more ways than just one as it unveiled the harsh realities of the corrupt and an unjust system. Prashant Pandey tells us, "RGV has an incredible mastery over manipulating and redesigning reality, hence he can best highlight Paritala Ravi’s glorious life with the help of Vivek's presence and application. I think in a film like this , you need someone who can stop acting and start living."

If Vivek Oberoi's presence in Rakta Charitra can have a profound impact on the worldwide media, think what would happen to all journalists when they come to know that Manoj Bajpai too is a part of the film. Got stunned? Just kidding, but Prashant isn't. He quotes a line from Godfather when Michael tells Tom, "All our men are businessmen, based on that everything is possible". If possibility has a chance, we won't be surprised to see Bajpai and Ramu back together on the big screen. It's like the fire and fuel fusion. Just think about the havoc it can create. Anyway, for whatever I've read on Ram Gopal Varma's blog about Rakta Charitra, it does feel that a pacey drama is ready to inject your adrenal glands in time to come as Ramu's rich tapestry is both broader in scope and more detailed than a mere recounting of the events in the life of Paritala Ravi.

It won't be wrong in saying that RGV is now in his comfort zone after the most important casting. But he shouldn't forget that the ultimate measure of his is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy. Ramu might think that his search for Paritala Ravi has ended but the least he knows that his perennial journey has just begun.

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