I recently binge-watched my way through Dil Bekaraar on Disney+Hotstar, and was left pleasantly surprised - not just because teenagers on the show actually looked like teenagers, but also because it was a romantic story that was refreshing yet relatable. And even though it raised important issues, it remained a light-hearted, feel-good show.
The only thing that did not surprise me was Akshay Oberoi's charming performance as Dylan Singh Shekhawat.
Because he's been leaving me a little in love with his performances since Kaalakaandi - the first film where he caught my heart, though it was certainly not the first time he caught my eye!
Oberoi, who made his debut as a leading man with Isi Life Mein in 2010, has an array of diverse projects in his filmography, and a fan following that only seems to grow with each new venture. And why not?
There's something to be said about his screen presence that makes him impossible to ignore - then be it in a cameo (like in Piku), or a short film (The Virgins, Smartphone, etc.), or the many web series he's been a part of (Illegal, The Test Case, Selection Day, etc.).
In fact, he even won a Filmfare OTT nomination for Best Actor, for his performance as a recovering drug addict in the MX player original crime drama, High.
And the nomination is certainly a long time coming, considering Oberoi has over ten web series under his belt, and just as many films - and with every performance, he has only improved upon his craft.
I was definitely intrigued by his deranged crimelord avatar (except for the accent) in the highly disappointing Flesh, or earlier still, by his act as the goody-two-shoes elder brother in the short film Mama's Boys.
He's shared screen space with brilliant performers like Pankaj Tripathi, Ratna Pathak Shah, Saif Ali Khan, and still managed to leave an impact.
And Dil Bekaraar, where he plays an impassioned reporter with a penchant to right society's wrongs, perfectly positions him as a young heartthrob - who is, as his on-screen love interest proclaimed, 'honest, brave, and kind'.
Simply put, Oberoi, who is all set to appear in Amazon Prime Video's Inside Edge S3 now, has been slowly but surely making his way in the industry, no longer shining from the sidelines alone.
While web series allowed him to experiment, mainstream cinema is also warming up to his talent, and he's been bagging notable projects. Hopefully, we continue to watch him flex those acting muscles in projects that leave us a little more in love with his characters.