The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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In the shadow of the Swami

“Hi, I am Vivekananda…” A long tika from Belur Math seemed most appropriate on the smooth forehead of Vivek Oberoi.

Dressed in a polo-neck rust-coloured woollen shirt and jeans, Bollywood’s actor of the moment took little time in admitting that he was “named after Swami Vivekananda”, whose preachings and books are “all over the house in Mumbai”.

The Company star had boarded Tuesday’s early-morning flight in black kurta, lungi and rudraksha mala in order to rush to destination Dakshineswar after touchdown Calcutta. “My father (actor Suresh Oberoi) had always told me to pay my respects at the Kali temple before I did anything else. So, I went there first and then to Belur, where Swamiji’s presence is ubiquitous,” said Vivek.

If Tollywood has its way, Vivek could become a frequent visitor to Belur next year — as the first big boy from Bollywood to tread the Tabu-Aishwarya path. Closed-door talks are already on with directors Aparna Sen and Rituparno Ghosh. Subroto Sen is also queuing up.

“Things are at a dormant stage, but I am sure that among my next crop of films, one will definitely be in Bangla. I have seen Badiwali, Utsav and Paromitar Ek Din and they are amazing,” said Vivek. Trade sources say his first foray into Bengal could be as an assassin in Aparna Sen’s next project.

Road took a wrong turn and Saathiya isn’t really calling in the crowds, but there was no missing the Vivek wave on Tuesday as he hopped around town, Diya Mirza in tow, before heading for the Science City auditorium to receive the Best Fresh Face (Male) Emami-Anandalok Award.

At Café Coffee Day, a young girl desperate to get up close threatened to shatter a giant glass wall. “All along, you wait for this kind of adulation. But finally, a creative artist would only look for appreciation,” declared Vivek, waving at the girl to make her day.

Hysteria ran high at Planet M, too. Young girls screamed and chanted “Vivek, Vivek…”, to which he replied with smiles and waves. Everyone wanted to have a piece of him and shaking hands with him turned into a stampede.

The star awaiting the release of Dum and Kyon Pyar Ho Gaya did not mind being mobbed a bit. As the crowd closed around him, he waded into his waiting fans, signing autographs, exchanging a word or two and always smiling.

But the giggling girls and baying boys (“I love you Diya” and all that) wanted more. A hush descended as the hero took the mike and agreed to “recite” Elvis Presley (“I can’t sing to save my life, so I’ll recite”, was the disarming explanation). “I’d rather listen to your lies than live without you…” wooed Vivek, leaving every girl within earshot wishing it was for her.

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