Name to know: Akshay Oberoi Advertisement

Name to know: Akshay Oberoi

He's the star-in-making you haven't noticed yet

By Vatsala Chhibber  April 29th, 2016

Akshay Oberoi made his Bollywood debut back in 2010, but it’s possible that the Bombay-based actor has entirely escaped your attention. His first feature, Isi Life Mein…! exited theatres without a sound, and his screen time in big-budget releases like Piku (2015) and Fitoor (2016) hasn’t allowed for instant recognition. But this year, with three promising films lined up, Oberoi is going to be hard to miss. In this month’s gritty drama Laal Rang, Oberoi stood out as a Karnal-native entangled in the blood mafia business. The reality of this underreported crime was sobering. “Rickshaw drivers are dragged off the street, given Rs 500, fed a glucose biscuit and their untested blood is sold to blood banks. The thing that troubles me the most is how carefree everybody is. It’s no big deal. This guy is just going around a warehouse drawing blood; those needles are not even changed.”

Next, Oberoi plays lead in Shanker Raman’s noir thriller Gurgaon, which won the fiction award at NFDC’s Film Bazaar last year, and then stars alongside Radhika Apte in the upcoming caper comedy Bombairiya. You can tell he has a favourite. “Gurgaon is a really cool film,” he says. “[My character] acts out after his father hands over his construction business to his daughter. As a man in India, and on top of that a man in Haryana, that’s a big slap in the face. It’s a film about entitlement, actually.” 

At 31, the performance arts grad from Johns Hopkins University isn’t fussing over delays. If anything, he’s grateful for that extended run of rejection and failure. “I had a relatively pleasant, privileged childhood. I hadn’t seen much life as a result of it. That period of darkness gave me something to express.”

Photograph: Rohan Shrestha