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|September 25, 2001||
Subhash K Jha
Director Ramgopal Varma is preparing to wrap up work in Hong Kong on his gangster thriller, Company even as Sanjay Gupta's gangster epic Kaante struggles to keep its mid-October deadline in Los Angeles.
The shooting schedule of Kaante, featuring Amitabh Bachchan and Sanjay Dutt, is suffering following the terrorist attacks in the US.
Varma has been stationed in Hong Kong for the last three weeks with his large crew and cast comprising Ajay Devgan, Manisha Koirala, Malayalam hero Mohanlal and debutant Vivek Oberoi. On the phone from Hong Kong, Varma confirms, "We've wrapped up our work on time and will return to Bombay at the end of this month."
About his eclectic star cast, he says, "I'm working for the first time with so many talented people. Ajay Devgan is a revelation. I'm very happy with Manisha's performance. She's exactly the way I thought she would be. Mohanlal is the most natural actor I've worked with. As for Vivek Oberoi, I've never worked with a better newcomer."
Coming from a star maker who has launched, or relaunched, stars like Urmila Matondkar, Manoj Bajpai, Fardeen Khan, Aftab Shivdasani, Sushant and Rajpal Yadav, this is high praise, indeed.
Vivek Oberoi, a theatre artiste, is completely taken up with his role in Company, a story of two warring gangsters, reacted with a nervous laugh to Varma's compliments: "I wish you hadn't told me he thinks so highly of my abilities. It puts added pressure on me."
One of the most eagerly watched newcomers, Vivek has already been pencilled into Varma's next production Road and also for the prized lead in the Hindi remake of Mani Ratnam's Alai Payuthey, reportedly with Kajol's sibling Tanisha in the lead.
When compared with his father, character-actor Suresh Oberoi, Vivek is modest: "If I can achieve a fraction of what he has, I'd consider myself lucky."
Interestingly, while Vivek has been flooded with plum lead parts from the outset, his father started his career as a character actor in Vinod Pande's Ek Baar Phir, never actually making it to the lead. He was recently seen playing Urmila Matondkar's father in Varma's production Pyaar Tune Kya Kiya.
Varma plans to shoot a few more of Company's key sequences in other international spots locations, including Australia. The film is rumoured to be the most expensive yet from Varma's production house.
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