Can Modi bhakti revive the career of Vivek Oberoi?

Vinayak Chakravorty

Apr 19, 2019 15:22:42 IST

In retrospect, Vivek Oberoi was probably out to do a Kangana Ranaut. Cruelly abandoned by the film fraternity after his famous fight of 2003 with Bollywood’s Supreme Superstar, Oberoi must have thought he had struck gold after all these years, when he launched his self-starring, self-produced biopic of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Being identified as a Modi bhakt worked wonders for Ranaut. Literally isolated in the wake of her recurring outspoken attacks on industry bigwigs, the actress found a robust fallback option in aligning with the saffron wave, in her war against the Bollywood power camps.

PM Narendra Modi was supposed to do the same for the beleaguered Oberoi. The actor, however, overlooked an important difference. Ranaut cashed in by smartly mixing the Modi brand of patriotism with very basic jingoism in her film, Manikarnika. Oberoi on the other hand sought to become Modi on screen.

It’s been a week that the Election Commission declared PM Narendra Modi would be postponed till the polls were over, despite being passed by the censors. Simple logic would suggests that stalling the film, touted as a propaganda exercise and not much else, should have affected its subject, especially since it happened just ahead of the polls.

Can Modi bhakti revive the career of Vivek Oberoi?

PM Narendra Modi, film still


Things in Oberoi’s life, however, are never driven by simple logic. His hagiographic homage doesn’t obviously matter to the Modi brigade. The political masters Oberoi’s biographical effort sets out to appease have maintained stoic distance from the film and the pre-release controversy it has generated.

Worse, not even known sympathisers of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) within the Bollywood set have come out to express solidarity with Oberoi.

If the actor was hunting for a new script in life, Modi bhakti clearly isn’t the formula. He had been waxing eloquent on Prime Minister Modi over the past weeks while promoting his film, in the process virtually pitching in as a star campaigner for BJP, gratis.

Modi and BJP, however, perhaps never really wanted him to pitch in. Very few things — including some major Bollywood productions — that have been associated with Oberoi lately have had happy endings, after all.

In a world fraught with feudal diktats as Bollywood is, taking on the might of Salman Khan was a gaffe Oberoi is still struggling to obliterate. Not much has helped so far — not his undeniable acting skills, not the well-publicised reports of his charity, or even his sporadic bids to get into sundry filmi power camps.

Would the film’s eventual release help turn Oberoi’s fortunes? There is already a Modi web series available, and another biopic starring former BJP MP, Paresh Rawal, lined up. Being Narendra Modi is clearly the ticket to quick fortune for too many actors right now.


Updated Date: Apr 22, 2019 13:37:04 IST

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