We know him as the handsome video jockey who entertained us on Channel V. He then went on to become one of our favourite musicians in the cult film ‘Rock On’. Purab Kohli’s Bollywood career may not have been the most glamorous one, but he sure has managed to make a space for himself in the industry.
He would next be seen in Sonakshi Sinha’s upcoming film ‘Noor’ and hence, we tried to get some exclusive bits from him. Quipping that he has been advised to not speak much because of the time constraints, Purab still managed to speak his heart out over ‘Noor’ and other things.
Here are the excerpts from the interview…
Tell us about your character in ‘Noor’…
I play a photo journalist named Ayan Banerjee. He is a war photo journalist; he is someone who is in the front line of the war. Someone who has a sort of risky life. His claim to fame is the photo he took in Iraq which was toppling over Sadam Hussain’s statue. That made him quite famous. It’s a back story which is not in the film. He happens to be passing from Mumbai displaying some off his photographs, that’s when he meets Noor. They both are completely smitten by each other. What really attracts Noor to him is that he has that sort of life and the career that she always aspired to have. She sees it in him.
Was it an instant yes to ‘Noor’?
Not really. There was definitely an instant interest in this film. I remember I was travelling; I was out of the country when I got a message from the director of ‘Airlift’ Raja Menon. He messaged me saying that Abundantia is making another film. Abundantia and T-Series were the producers for ‘Airlift’ and Raja said that are making this called ‘Noor’, it is a female sort of oriented film but there is a really nice character and I (Raja Menon) have been telling them that you (Purab Kohli) will do really good in it. I said sure, I am happy to listen to it. Then I read the script and instantly fell in love with it. I was a little sceptical about a few things about the character and then I had a chat with the director, Sunhil Sippy, and I realised that we were on the same page. He had the same sort of things bothering him which he was working on. As soon as I felt comfortable with that, I was on. Next thing I remember is that I was back in Mumbai, meeting the director. So it was a gradual yes but was definite sort of excitement that came my way this film.
Can you elaborate on what things bothered you about the character in this film?
Something on the way the character was being treated. You know when you read something that is written, it’s often a writer’s vision and often since you have not met the writer, you have your own interpretation of what has been written. So honestly there was this one scene in the end of the film that I was wondering on how he is treating the character. At that time there was nothing written and he (the director) told me what he was planning to write something. When he told me what he is planning to write, it fitted in and that rounded up the character for me.
How is Sonakshi as a co-star?
She is interesting. We always imagine leading ladies of Bollywood to be a little difficult to work with, but Sonakshi broke that stereotype for me. It is a sheer joy working with her. She is on time, thorough professional, giving it all… all the time. I remember this one time when we started shooting a scene at 3.30 – 4 in the morning and it went on till 7 in the morning. I was so done, I hate night schedules and I was like oh-god I can’t believe we are starting a scene at 3.30 am, but Sonakshi was all there. Fully present and fully on. It’s quite motivating you see, not only because she is Sonakshi Sinha but any actor you are working with, if they are driven and motivated all the time, it works your game up. So yaa it was fun to work with her…
Kanan Gill claims that Sonakshi Sinha is a bully on sets, did you get bullied too?
No, I didn’t get bullied by Sonakshi Sinha. He probably paid the price of being a newcomer. We all bullied Kanan.
You may have met a lot of journalists during the tenure of your filmy career and ‘Noor’ is all about a journalist. So any awkward question you dreaded while interacting with journalists?
I used to be a little uncomfortable talking about relationships and family in the beginning of my career because I feel that’s too personal. But now I don’t feel awkward anymore, just that I have learnt to say no…
Moving away from ‘Noor’, did box office failure of ‘Rock On 2’ affect you much?
Of course, we all were disappointed. Especially since the first one was such a success. ‘Rock On’ is the biggest film I have ever had, so if your trump card doesn’t work… after ‘Rock On’ 1, I tried many things and narrowed down to wanting to focus on hero-based films and had expectations, but it didn’t do well. I realised that I could take all these risks because I knew that ‘Rock On 2’ is happening. That’s a sure shot trump card, first one was such a rage and people stormed the theatres. Who knew demonetisation would come in and change things around? Even the film didn’t track that much. Right from the trailer to the songs, it just didn’t connect with the audience.
What’s your take on your ‘Airlift’ co-star Akshay Kumar winning the National Award for ‘Rustom’?
I actually haven’t seen ‘Rustom’ so I can’t comment on that. But I have worked with him in ‘Airlift’and I thought his performance was the best amongst the leading men that year. Even at popular awards I saw lots of people win, but I feel he was quite deserving even at the popular awards.
Do you believe in the credibility of awards?
No, to be honest. It’s judged on what basis? It could either be popular or what? I could be sitting on sour fence also saying that I have never won an award myself. But I feel in our country, just because there are so many, awards have lost its weight for me. It’s nice to be driven to do something interesting and not bog down with the want to win awards. Here I am happy even if a good bunch of audience goes to watch my film.
With stints in ‘POW’ and ‘Sense 8’, is it a deliberate decision to be more on TV?
It was not a want to do ‘POW’, but it was a want to do a good project. It was a sort of a path-breaker in my opinion. It has broken a lot of norms of Hindi TV serials and it brought a lot of respect to the television as the industry on whole. That’s something to be proud off.
At the end… any projects in pipeline?
There’s ‘Sense 8’ series with Netflix and nothing else in Bollywood as of yet. (Also Read: Purab Kohli and his take on fatherhood!)