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“Younger actors have to take bigger risks”

Akshay Oberoi is all set for his upcoming film Laal Rang, also featuring Randeep Hooda, Meenakshi Dixit, Pia Bajpai and Rajniesh Duggall. The film, directed by Sayed Ahmad Afzal, is said to be based on the illegal trade in blood. Oberoi shares some insights about his character and his experience.

Tell us about your character.

I am narrating the film to the audience, so I am actually telling you about my situation… like how I met this guy Shankar, how he taught me everything including the illegal blood trade. He completely idolises Randeep’s character but he is immature and ambitious so he tries to do his own thing… and that forms the crux of the story. There are so many elements, of betrayal, lost love, friendship and how that friendship breaks and comes together again… all this forms the crux of my character and what I am doing in the film.

What challenges did you face while portraying Rajesh?

It was challenging because I am from Mumbai but I had to play a boy from a small town. I haven’t lived the life of someone from Karnal and it is every actor’s dream to do something outside their realm. So I went to Karnal, visited blood banks, visited colleges there. I basically studied the body language of the people there and the way they speak.

Of course, the language was a challenge as they have a different rhythm to the way they speak. To get that right, I worked with dialogue writer Pankaj Matta as he is from Karnal and the story is loosely based on events in his life. So Afzal sat down with him and together they fleshed out the story.

What intrigued you about this role?

Cinema like this is different and I like to be a part of it. Also, I know Afzal and have watched his first film but when he came to me with this film, I had no idea that he had Randeep Hooda in the film. He had mentioned a couple of names as possibilities but he didn’t mention Randeep.

I have no godfathers in this industry and the only thing I have in my power is to choose scripts that I am interest in. I think younger actors have to take bigger risks. What’s the point doing what other actors are doing? I was on the lookout for the kind of cinema that I appreciate and want to watch, and was very lucky that Afzal came to me with this film. The bonus was that Randeep would be playing the character of Shankar, which I found out about only later. So, initially, it was the backdrop of the story, the blood bank, the bromance kind of angle. I think these were the elements that attracted me.

The film mainly revolves around you and Randeep Hooda. What was it like to work with him?

I have always watched him and liked his work. He may not deliver blockbusters but his work is always appreciated. I may not become a star, that is not in my hands, but what is in my hands is to become the best actor I can possibly be. It was destiny that gave me a chance to work with him and observe his work closely. He is a committed actor and an inspiration for younger people, to realise that it is not about what comes with this profession… the fame, money, glamour… it’s about knowing your craft.

Can you share your experience of working with Syed Ahmad Afzal?

Afzal is one of the most passionate directors I have worked with. I don’t know any other director who, under the given circumstances, would have made this film. The budget, shooting in Karnal, there was a lot of pressure and I don’t think any other director would have managed. His passion came through. He fought against all odds and it was great to see that.

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