I turned down the role of 3 Idiots: Omi Vaidya

Working with Aamir was a great experience, says the actor.

By Isha Roy

WASHINGTON, DC: Omi Vaidya is an American actor best known for his breakout performance as Chatur Ramalingam in the 2009 Bollywood film, 3 Idiots. Vaidya has starred in four other Bollywood films while also directing two short films.  In an interview with The American Bazaar, Vaidya talked about how he became an overnight sensation and what his latest projects are. Excerpts from the interview:

Omi Vaidya; photo by Bala Chandran
Omi Vaidya; photo by Bala Chandran

Omi, you became an overnight sensation with your role as Chatur in 3 Idiots. Tell us how you got involved with this Bollywood blockbuster? 

It all started with a trip I made to India a few years back with the intention of finding out what could come out of a script I wrote.  It turned out there wasn’t that much interest in the script.  As I was planning my trip back to the States, a friend of mine who was involved with 3 Idiots told me about a role they were auditioning NRI Actors for.  Considering I didn’t speak Hindi or watch Bollywood Movies, I wasn’t interested in auditioning.  On top of that the role was not even written for yet.

But, my friend convinced me to audition saying that it would be a good experience and a once in a lifetime opportunity.  At the audition, I had to say lines from the film Lage Raho Munna Bhai.  I was very bold and nonchalant when saying the lines primarily because I didn’t think I was going to get the role.  I also came across as very relaxed and confident even though I didn’t know what I was saying.  I was offered the role as I was heading home from the audition.  I actually turned down the role at first but after six months of persistence and not accepting no as an answer, the staff of 3 Idiots convinced me to take the role.

Tell us about the film Big in Bollywood which chronicles your life?

Some friends of mine in America got in touch with a documentarian from Nepal.  After hearing that I was going to star in a movie with Aamir Khan, the documentarian became really excited about the prospect of putting a documentary together about me around the release of 3 Idiots.  The crew from Nepal came to the premiere of 3 Idiots and told me that 3 Idiots movie was going to make me famous.  I didn’t believe them for a moment but regardless was looking forward to having the documentary team there to capture my experience at the premiere.   Turns out after the premiere, I did become famous overnight and people were curious to find out more about me.  Within a week, I went from walking down the street with no one giving me the time of day to it becoming difficult to walk down the street.   Big in Bollywood is one of the few fun and laugh out loud documentaries which chronicles the specific moment when someone actually becomes famous.  While many people have heard about or read about it, to actually chronicle that moment was very special.  Big in Bollywood really allows the viewers to go on the whole roller coaster ride of what’s it’s like to become famous with me.

What was it like working with Aamir Khan?

It was a great experience.  He’s a very cool guy who is extremely focused on his work.  He’s also very driven and intense which can get scary at times.  Overall though he was very welcoming and always invited me to go out with the cast even though I didn’t want to go at times, considering he was my enemy in the movie and I wanted to stay in character as much as possible.

What can Omi Vaidya fans expect next?

Right now I’m working on my first script as a Director and shooting some commercials in India.  In the meantime, I’ve done four movies since 3 Idiots, including Dil Toh Baccha Hai Ji with Ajay Devgan, Desi Boyz with Akshay Kumar, Players with Abhishek Bachchan and Jodi Breakers with Bipasha Basu.

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