Laal Rang – In conversation with Akshay Oberoi and Pia Bajpai
Director Syed Ahmad Afzal’s next Laal Rang depicts a dreadful crime of blood trade and caught in the middle of the drama are two characters Rajesh and Poonam, played by actors Akshay Oberoi and Pia Bajpai. The young actors play an on-screen couple who let their greed get the better of them. As the film readies for release, Akshay and Pia talk about their individual characters, the experience of working on this interesting film and their future plans.
You play Rajesh in Laal Rang. Are there any similarities between your character and you?
My character Rajesh actually idolizes Shankar (Randeep Hooda’s character) and I think we’ve all personally had moments like that in our life, where there is a senior that you looked up to. I remember that there was a senior in my college, who was really cool according to me. And that is what I see in the character as well, when he comes across Shankar, he is fascinated by him.
The weird part is that when I first started out as an actor, as a struggling actor, you tend to relate to someone who had to struggle too. And for me that was Randeep. I would always see Randeep and think that even I will eventually reach somewhere. It’s just funny that we ended up doing this film together. Therefore, in terms of similarity, I think it’s this idealization that we share. Other than that, the character comes from a completely different world than I do. He speaks differently, looks different, and behaves differently. He is from a very small town and is shy; I am not.
So did you find it challenging to portray a character that was so different from you?
It actually was not that hard for me since I worked a lot on it. Prior to Laal Rang, I’d done a film called Gurgaon where I have spoken proper Haryanvi. I had gone and lived there (in Haryana) for a while. So by the time this film came around, I already had that accent right. Although in this film it is diluted because the character is from Karnal.
I tried copying the manner in which the dialogue writer for this film, on whom the story is loosely based, speaks. I don’t know why I say that it was easy, because in retrospect it was pretty hard, but it seems easy because I did it over time.
How was the experience of working with director Syed Ahmad Afzal?
He is an extremely passionate director that I have ever come across. I don’t think anybody else could have directed such a film. It is a very off – beat subject, but sometimes we include commercial elements to make the film more digestible to the audience. It is something that happens to everybody, even the biggest of films may have to face pressure from the producer or someone else. But Ahmad fought for what he believes in and never gave in.
What other projects are you currently working on?
Yes, there is something, but I haven’t officially signed anything yet. I am waiting for the release of Laal Rang before taking any decision on it. Also, Gurgaon will release in September and I think that Bombairiya will be out in December. Plus, I keep doing short films as I love acting way too much (smiles)
Tell us about your character in Laal Rang.
My character, Poonam is from Saharanpur, which is a small town in UP. I could completely relate to my character, the way she walks, talks and the look, because I too come from a very small town. In fact, till I was in class 12, I was just like Poonam. Poonam thinks that the way she carries herself is very trendy and fashionable. She feels that she knows everything and is the only one who is smart. Even I was very much like that.
The only difference was that I was a tomboy. I used to drive bikes and my father’s jeep and beat up guys. Poonam is not like that, but she does have a Dabangg type attitude, which we share.
What is the kind of chemistry that Akshay Oberoi and you share in the film?
I think we were destined to work together because we have given quite a few auditions together. There was a comfort level with Akshay from the start. Also, though I am not short tempered, but in a given situation, I react immediately and Akshay doesn’t react. So there were a lot of things that I could learn from him. If I ever get angry I burst out, but he controls his reactions, which I wanted to learn because sometimes people don’t appreciate such frankness.
And how was the experience of working with Randeep Hooda?
It was amazing. I’ve been wanting to do a film with him for a long time. Before signing up with my manager Kunal Shah, I’d told him that I really wanted to work with Randeep. But at that time there was nothing and Kunal had said that if something came up, he would let me know. A week later he called me to sign the papers and within five days of that he told that there is a film with Randeep. The thing that I wanted from such a long time finally happened and it was great.
Can you throw some light on your upcoming projects?
I have done a film called Emotional Ka Confusion: Mirza Juliet that is based on a love story in Banaras. There is another project that I am working on, where I again play a girl from a small town, but it is poles apart from Poonam and the film should release soon.