Fenil and Bollywood

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3 Idiots’ Omi is an established actor in the US, now in Bollywood

By Lekha Menon (MUMBAI MIRROR; December 30, 2009)


His distorted Hindi speech is one of the biggest talking points in the recently released 3 Idiots. In reality, it was an almost similar monologue that fetched Omi Vaidya,  (who prefers to be called Omi) an LA- based actor, the role of Chatur Ramalingam in the Aamir Khan-starrer.

On a trip to Mumbai to check out the Bollywood scene, Omi was asked by a friend to appear for an audition. The first audition went off without a hitch, but at the second he was given a dialogue from Munnabhai… to mouth. “I just rattled it off without exactly understanding the words… almost like the speech scene in the film,” says Omi. The next thing he knew, he was pencilled in for the role of the accented, mark-obsessed NRI geek in the film.

The instructions he received from the makers were clear: Don’t take Hindi classes, stop watching Hindi movies and put on weight.

Omi followed them to the T and now of course, he is revelling in the compliments coming his way for his role in the blockbuster. “I am still flabbergasted by the response. I guess people have liked the character because he is so relatable. In a way, this character’s negativity brought out the essence of the message more forcefully,” says Omi.

Incidentally, he began his acting career at the age of six, performing for Marathi Mandals in the US (also the reason why his Marathi is much better than his Hindi). He pursued a serious acting career in his teens, graduated in film studies from NYU and did roles in  Bones, CSI Las Vegas, The Office and Arrested Development, besides ads.

But being Asian or Indian, it’s still a tough task to break into Hollywood,  says Omi. “It’s difficult for Indians to get into the mainstream. At the most, you might be cast as an IT professional or other stereotypes.”

Omi in 3Idiots

That’s when he thought of exploring Bollywood, though there were other apprehensions. “The Hindi film industry is still not taken that seriously in the West. There are myths that it is unprofessional, and is mainly about songs and dances.”

But all his fears were put to rest once he joined the cast. “Here, there is a personal touch, unlike Hollywood. Even if they don’t pay you by the hour and there is no extra time, there is warmth and care. I basically saw my Bollywood innings as a challenge. A lot of credit also goes to Raju and Abhijat Joshi for the way the character came across on screen.”

Not surprisingly, after the stupendous success and appreciation, he is here for the long haul. Omi, plans to divide his time between the US and India and work in films ‘that don’t necessarily typecast him as an NRI but are dynamic and enjoyable.’

And for the record, he has now started taking Hindi classes as well.

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It’s always a pleasure to see a meaningful flick which entertains as well enlightens. Rajkumar Hirani is the master of such flicks (his forthcoming 3 Idiots is also expected to be the same). Rocket Singh also falls in this category. Although it is laden with some glitches, overall it gives you a great time and also teaches you some valuable lessons which we may have forgotten or ignored because of living in this fast-paced urban ‘corporatized’ life!

The story of the movie: Harpreet Singh Bedi (Ranbir Kapoor) has just graduated with low marks but is determined to enter into the world of sales. He justified himself as ‘number kam hai dimaag nahi’! With his confidence and ‘never quit’ attitude, he lands as a trainee in the reputed company, AYS. But he soon realizes that in this professional field, the people worked with the most unprofessional attitude! He always believed in working honestly and caring for the customers. He even attempted to apply his principles which received a sharp reaction from his seniors. Harpreet was then denounced and humiliated. And this is when he realized that instead of merely being an observer, he’ll be the change he wants to see! From here begins the journey of Harpreet aka Rocket Singh!

One won’t take to Rocket Singh instantly, esp in the first hour. This hour focuses more on establishing characters. Also the film hasn’t applied sync sound system well due to which one has difficulty in deciphering some of the dialogues. But after some time in the film, we get ‘accustomed’ to it!

But there are some sequences in the first hour that deserve a mention. The ‘complaint’ scene was great and the boss’ (Manish Choudhari) angry reaction looked quite real. Also watch out when Ranbir is humiliated by the boss with his ‘zero-value’ theory. It was a bit over the top but made an impact.

But the second hour is when the film rocks big time! Ranbir creating a company within a company and popularizing it with his honest ways and making partners was damn interesting. The pre-climax wonderfully built up tension but the climax was dragged a bit. Maybe, the lengthy dialogue should have been a bit crisp. It would have made a better impact.

But nonetheless, the film manages to put its message across in a cool manner. It’s a must for all in the sales field or anyone dealing with customers…maybe it will inspire them to adopt more ‘human’ and honest ways of working!

Without a doubt, it’s Ranbir Kapoor who carried the film fabulously on his shoulders and came up with a great performance. He looked charming even in his sardar look and managed to do a great job-as great as he did in Wake Up Sid and Ajab Prem Ki Ghazab Kahani. The film may unfortunately not work at the BO but Ranbir will surely be appreciated and Rocket Singh will be remembered as one of his best performances!

Prem Chopra as Ranbir’s paa played his part well. D. Santosh (famous for his Rajguru act in The Legend of Bhagat Singh) was outstanding! In fact, he delivers better performance than Ranbir in many of the scenes involving both of them! Watch out for him!

Besides these, the rest of actors were all newbies but leave a mark. Gauhar Khan as Koyna looks stunning and gives a top-class performance. Her career in Bollywood is on the right track with this film! Shazahn Padamsee gets very little scope but manages to impress. Mukesh Bhatt as Chotelal was just brilliant! And finally, the other two actors who leave a maximum impact as Ranbir and Santosh are Naveen Kaushik (as Nitin) and Manish Choudhari. Both were wonderful and if the film impresses, then they are also to be credited!

Salim-Sulaiman’s music doesn’t make a mark as song-and-dance isn’t part of this film. Pocket Mein Rocket is missing from the film. But their background score like everytime was fabulous.

Vikash Nowlakha’s cinematography was flawless. Manas Choudhury, the sync sound recordist, could have done a better job.

Jaideep Sahni has written the story, screenplay, dialogues and lyrics. His work was exceptional in all four. Only the screenplay could have been a tighter in the climax and easy in the initial portions. But the best part is-his Khosla Ka Ghosla magic is wonderfully seen in some of the scenes which really makes the film impressive.

This is Shimit Amin’s weakest directorial venture, simply because his last two flicks, Ab Tak Chappan and Chak De! India are considered as classics. But still even in his weak performance, he impresses! Watch out for how he has paid attention to little details to make the film look as realistic and closer to real life as possible. Watch out for the beginning portions when the credits appear-observe how the simple articles found in every household are impressively highlighted. Overall, a good job, could have been better and best wishes for the next project!

Some of the best scenes of the film:
1.     Harpreet’s first interview
2.     Harpreet’s complaint box ‘kaarnama
3.     Boss reacts to Harpreet’s kaarnama!
4.     Colleagues scold Harpreet
5.     The intermission point
6.     Koyna joins Harpreet
7.     Harpreet and his boss’ telephonic conversation (best scene of the film!)
8.     Boss finds out the truth (amazing!)
9.     The final scene

On the whole, Rocket Singh is a feel-good film and should be seen by all sales professionals and corporates. A must watch for Ranbir too. Go for it to have a different kinda experience!

My rating-*** out of 5!

This review first appeared on MouthShut.com: http://www.mouthshut.com/review/Rocket_Singh-181580-1.html


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