Akshay Oberoi: High is not a preachy series


I don’t say that often about my work. Now it just happens that there’s more attention on it. That was our deadline. Here you can authentically cast for the show, take the right people for the job. I’m really proud of this show. Here, the unique part is that we’ve created a drug. It’s a way to surprise yourself and the audience,” he says. Written by Mimansa Shekhar
| New Delhi |

Updated: October 7, 2020 9:58:41 pm

High is currently streaming on MX Player. © IE Online Media Services Pvt Ltd

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Akshay Oberoi (Photo: PR Handout)Actor Akshay Oberoi is eager to play darker characters. What makes High different? I’m having a blast right now. I’m so glad that over the years, great writers and directors have come in, and such varied parts are being written, and people are giving me a chance to do it. But you also have to do your research because it’s not like I’ve used these substances. Are you ready for such negativity? Nikhil wrote it two years ago. It’s not preachy at all. So for me to get a role of a heartland Jaat guy who murders his entire family was quite a stretch. There’s Narcos, Udta Punjab. And as much work goes to get into it, the same amount of work it takes to get out of it. Coming to High, while playing a drug addict, you need to follow a certain mannerism and body language. There are many shows. What kind of preparation did you do? At the end of the day, I only care about acting. The things happening were coincidental. Shiv Mathur (High) or Taj (Flesh) don’t leave you that easily. When you stand up for a project, you have to be aware of any kind of backlash. Why?https://images.indianexpress.com/2020/08/1×1.png
I look a certain way, and that’s how heavens have made me. I wanted to break these stereotypes. 📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. I think after I worked in Gurgaon and the way the film and my work was received. It’s the same thing here. I had to struggle to get work in films. So in the last couple of years, I have been trying to prove that if you give me any role, I’ll do justice to it. I spoke to a lot of rehab centre professionals. So I’m really excited to see how people are going to accept the show. That’s really different and I hope people get convinced. So it does take a bit of a toll. There’s a lot of talent in the show, and that’s what is great about the OTT platform. When I started, it was a smaller industry. Akshay is seen playing drug addict Shiv Mathur in MX Player’s latest series High. In a candid chat with indianexpress.com, the actor talked about High, the difficulty in leaving his characters behind and the web medium. Is the timing of High purely coincidental, given what is happening in real life? I think quite the opposite will happen when people will watch it. Thank God for OTT platforms. Akshay Oberoi plays the character of Shiv Mathur, a drug addict, in High. Drug is just the backdrop of the story. MX Originals had always said that it’s going to release somewhere around September-October 2020. So High needs to stand on its own feet. For instance, High may receive a backlash for endorsing drugs. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines
For all the latest Entertainment News, download Indian Express App. But the most challenging part was to effectively communicate to the audience the drug that Nikhil Rao created – Magic, because it does not actually exist. It’s not like films, where stakes are high with distribution and marketing. “Such roles stretch you as an actor. But when you watch the show, you’ll realise that through my character we are trying to say that drugs are not going to lead you anywhere in life. My wife says you play all these dark characters and then you come home and I can’t tell who you are. We’ve had shows and films around substance abuse. I was getting interesting films like Laal Rang, Kaalakaandi, Pizza, Gurgaon, but it wasn’t non-stop. But if the show is no good, it won’t be able to do anything for it. Has web been kinder to you? We made the show a year ago. Excerpts from the conversation:
You seem to be getting more and more into the dark space with shows like Flesh and now, High. When I saw it coming, I jumped at it. I really enjoyed making it. I used to think these are the years I want to work and grow as an actor and it’s just not happening. There’s a certain mind frame that you have to get into, a certain amount of knowledge about the drug, what it does to your brain, how it changes you. There are a hundred romantic films about a boy meeting a girl but it’s the individual story that sets it apart. (Photo: PR Handout)
When stories from real life inspire content onscreen, a section of the audience oppose it. That’s because I always keep my characters in my head while I’m shooting, to get into its skin. Hats off to my director who saw me in that light. It should also look authentic like I’m on that drug. But of course anything that is talked about, will help the show gain more curiosity. But when did you realise that this is the time to experiment? You have to rely a lot on the director. And I would get a film after multiple auditions and a thousand rejections. I didn’t want people to say that I could only play a certain type of role — like a good boy or a romantic hero. Whenever a topic is relevant, it always helps the film or series coming out at that time. They see it through my eyes. I would do two films and be at home for four months. The team had no idea that this is going to happen. In acting, the only time you can practice and improve is when you are on a set. When you play characters which might not resonate with you personally, what is the process like? I’ve spent half of my life in the US, and I now live in Mumbai. After doing that, I think people started trusting me with unique roles. I think the same will happen here. We are trying to entertain. We are not taking advantage of that. It’s also a way to stand out.