Akshay Oberoi made his Bollywood debut in 2010 with Rajshri Productions’ Isi Life Mein and went on doing multiple roles on the big screen. However, his true success and fame came when he did projects like ‘Gurgaon’, and ‘Flesh’ among others in the OTT space. “I am now doing the work that I wanted to do because of the 2016, and 2017 digitalization that started in India,” he says.
In an interview with Outlook, Akshay, who was last seen in ‘Gaslight’ starring Sara Ali Khan in the lead role, talks about if he is happy with the response the film has got, his journey and his failures, and his upcoming film Fighter starring Hrithik Roshan and Deepika Padukone.
Excerpts from the interview:
Q. Are you happy with the way Gaslight was received by the audience?
Akshay: I am in business for way too long so I don’t have any expectations or anything. Most often the stuff you least expect ends up sticking and the stuff you really expect to work doesn’t work so I can't claim to know anything. My job is to find projects that allow me to work with filmmakers' star casts, I do my job to the best of my ability and then I put it out there. Every artist expects a kind of appreciation and I am very happy with the way things have shaped up. For me, the number one thing that matters the most is what this industry, what critics and media feel about my work, and once that hurdle is crossed then the audience also matters but sometimes the audience doesn’t watch the work as much as you hope so for me, I just want to keep working as an actor and I feel very happy when my work is well received.
Q. How challenging was it to play Rana?
Akshay: Every character has its own challenges and there are things you need to work on or figure out, sometimes the clothes of the character get you there, and sometimes finding that voice of the characters gets you there and I think it was but of that, finding how this guy speaks as he has a Nawabi image. There is a certain intelligence and finesse that he grew up in like walking, holding his body, etc and those are the things I need to work on. Luckily I have had enough examples in my life.
Q. Akshay, it's over two decades for you in the industry so would you like roadblocks and how they shaped your journey as an actor?
Akshay: I think roadblocks, the fame of this journey, the ups and downs in my career, the struggle, the insecurity, and the love being the way you want to be and when you want to be there, were the things that made me an actor. I think over time, I realized real things and real struggles build your character. Either you walk away from that and decide not to engage with that or you fight harder to get where you want and I think the latter happened with me. The early struggle in my career helped me become a consistent working actor. Those roadblocks made me what I am today. Now, I can do any part, I am not afraid of anything and I am not conscious of anything. That's what it takes to be an actor for the camera and it’s the journey that made me do that.
Q. OTT has somehow opened doors for more talents to flourish. Your take?
Akshay: You and I both know it's true and I am talking today and doing the work I want to do because of 2016, and 2017 digitalization that started in India. Before that, I was doing one or two films a maximum a year, and maybe they would be well received but now people watch at large. Our businesses are made for commerce and if it doesn’t do well, nobody gains from it. Making money tops in this business and until you don’t hit that, it's very difficult so when digitalization happened and the whole threat of the box office went away, people started casting more actors and I started getting work like 'Flesh' and all the shows back to back which not only helped me hone my own craft but it got me in front of my audience. People started watching my work and I just jumped at it. I never came to Mumbai with the thought that I want to have it all. I was just trying for my part to play.
Q. Your path-breaking roles?
Akshay: Three come to mind and the first is 'Gurgaon' directed by Shanker Raman.I think prior to that film everybody was thinking about me as king chocolate boy and nobody wanted to take me in serious roles. As Harayanavi Jat killing his family opposite Pankaj Tripathi, nobody was giving me that break but it was Shanker Raman who saw my acting. The Second is 'Flesh;. That project led to different things and lastly would be 'High' because it came at the time when the lockdown was happening. People watched it on a very large scale. I think I got visibility in that show.
Q. Fighter is the most anticipated project? Are you excited?
Akshay: I am very excited about that. It's one of those big projects that the whole world will watch. I am working with the biggest director and biggest star and I have never worked with them. After all the hard work, people will go to the theatre and watch and they should watch because of the way the film has been made. Also, to play an air force officer is so cool. It's been a great journey.