I had the chance to chat with Praneet Akilla about his upcoming role in the Netflix series October Faction. Inspired by a graphic novel this eerie watch is perfect for horror and fantasy fans. I also delved into some of his theater work. Thank you to Praneet Akilla for answering all of my questions.
Could you tell our readers a little about yourself?
I’m an actor, singer, and filmmaker based in Vancouver/Toronto. I fell in love with storytelling and acting at an early age- watching movies, plays, and musicals. I would then re-enact them in my bedroom, in front of the bathroom mirror, pretending I was the action hero of my own movie. While others spent their free time playing outside or playing video games, I would study behind the scenes videos of how movies and tv shows were made. Growing up, I would act in many school musicals/plays but in a South Asian household there is a stigma against the arts being a viable career option. I was good at math and science so I went and studied Chemical Engineering at McGill University in Montreal. When I graduated, I took a leap of faith. I quit my engineering job, went straight into auditioning for acting jobs for film/tv/stage and haven’t looked back.
How would you describe your upcoming series October Faction?
October Faction is a fantasy/horror Netflix Original series based on the graphic novels by Steve Niles and Damien Worm. It follows the adventures of a retired monster-hunter and his family moving back to their patriarch’s town to find out their idyllic surroundings aren’t quite what they seem. Pretty soon they have to deal with werewolves, warlocks, vampires and all kinds of other monsters that are hidden in plain sight. I describe it as a Men in Black meets Supernatural. On the outside it’s incredibly fun, got lots of action and creepy horror elements. However the writers of the show have created incredibly well developed characters and a storyline with poignant social commentary on many of the issues we deal with in the world today- sexual assault, LGBTQ rights, racial bias/profiling, power dynamics, human rights and on and on. I think people will love it.
What is your character Phillip Mishra’s part in the series?
Playing Phillip Mishra is my first big break, playing a major recurring role on a Netflix Original Series. From being a chemical engineer to this, feels surreal and hasn’t sunk in yet. I’m so grateful for the opportunity to be a part of this show. Phillip Mishra is the alpha and star athlete in the high school the Allen Family kids attend. He’s also the son of a prominent townsperson. He carries a heavy burden of high expectations from both his family and the society around him. On the surface he very much tries to hide this stress and compensates by pushing his male bravado out to assert his dominance. Through the series however, after meeting Geoff Allen, tensions arise and the rest I can’t give away because (SPOILERS!!)
You are also in two upcoming theater productions, could you share a bit about Cipher?
Cipher is a play that is being performed at a major theatre company in Vancouver, Canada called The Arts Club. I very much describe it as “hipster noir meets conspiracy thriller”. It’s a cold case murder mystery and I play a student who teams up with a toxicology professor to solve the case. The creative team is one of the best in Canadian theatre and it’s going to be innovative and exhilarating. If people want to check it out, here is a link for tickets https://artsclub.com/shows/2019-2020/cipher. We open on Feb.12th, 2020 in Vancouver.
What can you tell me about Mahabharata?
Mahabharata is the longest story ever written or told in the world. It’s a Lord of the Rings-esque fantasy epic from Indian, Hindu mythology BUT on stage! This project is a huge milestone because it’s the first time in north america that this story is being told on stage with an international-all south asian cast. It is being performed at Niagara-on-the- Lake’s Shaw Theatre Festival from August 15th to September 19th. Here is a link to tickets for those interested: https://www.shawfest.com/playbill/mahabharata/. I will be performing multiple characters in it and the cast & crew are absolutely spectacular.
Outside of performing you are also a producer for Rendering Glint Films and Kalpana Films, what is that work like?
I love project management and producing my own content. Luckily, I have many friends who are writers and filmmakers so it was a natural course of events to team up and create short films, digital web series, and now features with them. A lot of my work is dealing with acquiring financing for our independent projects, writing grants, bringing together the right creative crew to serve the story. I also deal with location logistics, budgeting, and provide big picture input of the stories we are trying to tell. In 2020 we are working on a web-series and a feature film, to be produced in 2021.
Do you have any other projects you’d like to discuss?
None that I can talk about yet 🙂 I hope to keep doing projects like October Faction with well developed storylines/characters. Particularly, as an actor of colour I hope to do parts where my ethnicity has nothing to do with the storyline. I also hope to act/produce in films with strong social impact & outreach.
Where can our readers keep up with you online?
Follow me on Instagram & Twitter: @p_akilla