Chatur Opens Up – 3 Idiots Escapades !
Chatur Ramlingam or Silencer thrilled us to bits in 3 Idiots, with his embarrassing and foolish ways. And we were introduced to the hilarious 27-year-old Omi Vaidya.
Born and brought up in the US, Omi is the grand-nephew of noted editor Das Dhaimade, who has worked in films like of Gunga Jamuna, Abhimaan, Bawarchi, Guddi and Namak Halal.
The Maharashtrian lad opens up to Patcy N.
Tell us about yourself.
I live in Culver City, Los Angeles, but my native place is Goa. I have been coming to Mumbai during my summer vacations but have never liked it because of the hot climate.
Getting a role in the US is very difficult. I have done some ads and acted in American serials like The Office, Arrested Development, Kath And Kim, Bones and CSI: Las Vegas. I did courses in editing, direction and writing in New York.
How did you land 3 Idiots?
A friend called Supriya Kelkar, from Michigan, is a writer. She works with Vidhu Vinod Chopra group, and writes with Abhijat Joshi (who co-wrote 3 Idiots with director Rajkumar Hirani).
Supriya told me about the auditions for the role. In my audition, I had to say Sharman Joshi’s and R Madhavan’s dialogues, as they had not written Chatur’s character yet. I wondered whether I would get through because I don’t know Hindi. My Marathi is better than my Hindi, as I used to do Marathi plays as a child.
But I got a call the next day, asking me to audition for an NRI role, which had not been written in yet. I said my lines with so many mistakes; I think that’s how the ‘balatkar scene‘ was written.
After a month, I was called for a screen test in New Mexico. I was given the ‘balatkar scene’ and the ‘tank scene’.
Raju called me personally and said that I had done a good job. He asked me to stop taking the Hindi classes that I had started taking, and also to stop watching Hindi movies. He told me to gain 12 kilos, as the first schedule was in Ladakh.
My wife Minal Patel was quite upset with me because I was fat right before my wedding in August, as we had to shoot the Ladakh scene again.
How did you work on your character Chatur?
I talk like Chatur, so I didn’t have to do anything different there. I said ‘Tofu kabool karo’ during the rehearsals, and they retained that in the dialogue. Plus, I keep saying ‘Kya hui’ instead of ‘kya hua,’ so they retained that as well.
When you first came to know about your role, what was your reaction?
I was very nervous. I kept wondering whether I would be able to do justice to the role. In a way, I think that helped me, as I did my job better.
What was it like working with Aamir Khan, Sharman Joshi and R Madhavan?
They were really supportive. We would play scrabble and badminton, and hang out with each other, party.
Aamir could not go out, as he’s too famous. He’s very intense. His mind works as an actor as well as a director, writer and audience. He had worked with Sharman and Maddy in Rang De Basanti so he could have stuck with them but he genuinely wanted to know about me and would spend time with me.
I don’t know much about Bollywood but I consider all of them to be good actors.
Sharman is very involved in his work. There was a scene in which he only had one dialogue. After finishing the shoot, he looked disturbed. I asked him what happened and he said that he could have done the scene better.
Maddy is very likable. He’s a very nice guy. He really took me under his wings and guided me well. He’s helping me with my projects because he has gone through a lot of struggle himself.
How was it working with Rajkumar Hirani?
Raju gave me a free hand. If I asked him about my dialogues, he would ask me to try them out and see which style sounds better. He wanted me to say the dialogues in incorrect Hindi, so he would not help me with my dialogues.
Why were you kept away from the media? Didn’t that upset you?
I was not kept away from the media. I just got married in August and wanted my wife Minal to meet my relatives in Goa.
Your role has been equally appreciated and you’re present throughout the film. Yet, the title says 3 Idiots, not 4 Idiots.
I don’t care about these things. I did a good job and am happy about that. I hope I get another good role like this. But I don’t want to do Chatur roles all the time. I want to grow as an artiste.
How different was it working in Bollywood, rather than American shows?
I had heard a lot about the class difference in Bollywood but that was not the case here. They were very professional. Plus, there was a personal touch that you don’t get in America. In the US, people shoot and go to their vanity vans. Nobody talks to anyone and you don’t make friends. Here, it’s different. People eat and drink and spend time together.
Things are quite crazy here too. Sometimes you get the day’s script at the last moment. The dialogues change. The dates are set up by the big actors, and the smaller ones have to work accordingly. Things are more organised in America.
Life has change dramatically. Twelve days ago, nobody knew me. Nobody took pictures of me at the premiere, nor did anyone interview me. But when the film got over, I could not leave the theatre — people kept coming up to me, taking pictures and shaking my hand.
Did anyone tease you after the release of the film? Were you ever embarrassed by your role?
When people call me ‘balatkar’ and ‘Silencer,’ it’s good because that shows people remember my character.
Will we see more of you in Bollywood?
Yes. I will try my luck here. I have opportunity and don’t want to waste it. But I don’t want to do repetitive roles. I have access to Bollywood now.