Interview: Purab Kohli

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Just when it seemed like audiences simply couldn’t get enough of Rock On!!, everyone was delighted to hear that this film was among the many to be considered for the Oscars. Although it did not get chosen, the fact that it is a great film with superb music and outstanding performances did not go unnoticed. One particular performance, which some consider to be the soul and surprise package of the film, was given by Purab Kohli. BollySpice caught up with this fine actor for an exclusive interview in which he discusses his experience of working in Rock On!! and in Bollywood in general.

Before we start, however, let’s familiarize you with the man himself. Purab Kohli started out as a model and eventually became a VJ for Channel V. He got a taste for acting while working in television and is most well known for ‘Hip Hip Hurray’ on Zee TV. Purab received his first major break in Bollywood with the film Bas Yun Hi opposite the talented Nandita Das. He was later seen in 13th Floor which was produced and directed by his Rock On!! co-star Luke Kenny. Purab is also remembered for his outstanding work in My Brother Nikhil, Woh Lamhe and Awarapan.

Here is what this brilliantly charming actor had to say to us:

Purab, your performance in Rock On!! has been greatly appreciated and the ‘I Will Survive’ scene was extraordinary! What was your reaction when this scene was narrated to you?

I loved it. Abhishek told me he wanted me to sing the song three days before we shot it and I was game. The fun you see me having while singing, it was real.

What was it like learning to play the drums and have you always been interested in that particular instrument? Do you have any aspirations to become a drummer in a band? Also, are there any others you would like to learn how to play?

Well, the only instrument I learnt to play in my life was the guitar at some point but did not go very far with it. I never tried anything else. Maybe some high school desk beating… that’s how close I got to drumming. The drums are tougher than they look. I used to be a dancer so the breaking of music in to counts/bars… that came easily but separating each limb to a different count… that was tough.

I play a little now, but I hope to get better. I own a drum kit so I play when time permits.

Well, now drums are in my life so I’ll stick to that.

What are some of your favorite bands?

I grew up to U2, G&R, Skidrow, Scorpions, Megadeath, and Metallica.

I enjoy Radiohead, Indian Ocean, Black Eyed Peas. These come to mind right now.

You are forever experimenting with your looks. Do you feel it’s necessary to change your looks to enhance a character or do you simply like to try different looks for the sake of experimenting?

Honestly, it helps me feel the character. When I look in to the mirror I feel like a different person during every film. It’s fun.

Speaking of looks, we loved KD’s beard in Rock On!! What inspired that look?

Again, Abhishek suggested it at the look test. We had planned a beard but the plait was a last minute detail.

What was your favorite scene or moment from Rock On!!?

The scene between me and Luke at Jazz by the Bay. Also my drum solo. I practiced that for many months and was so happy when I got it right in one go!

How do you feel the film turned out? Did you expect the film to such a success?

I loved the film. My first reaction was… “Wow I’m in this film”.

Well, after watching it for the first time, one knew it was a good film, but such a rage the film would become I never imagined.

You have been receiving compliments all around regarding your performance in the film. Was there any compliment that moved you the most and if so, who was it from?

There were many compliments but the one that stayed with me was when a few people told me that I was the soul of the film. I also remember Ritesh Sidhwani saying that I was going to be the surprise package when he saw the film at the edit and I had not seen it yet.

You’ve played such a wide array of characters in your career including a homosexual character in My Brother Nikhil. What is it that you look for in a character and what was it in your MBN character that enticed you to take that role?

Well, I look for a great script and a great character to play and I think of what I can do with it. Like in Awarapan most people said “Are you sure you want to play a neg role?” I was sure about it because I had an idea of what I wanted to do with it and I knew Mohit had faith in me as an actor. In fact, Munnu, which was the character’s name, was born on the first day of shooting. Me and Mohit never spoke until we shot the first scene which was my last scene in the film. I suggested my idea and he loved it and gave me more to play with. Till date I think it’s the best character I’ve played. In fact, it was a small part, and I think I can explore a negative side a lot more. Let’s see in the future.

MBN is one of the best scripts I have read till date. I would be stupid not to play Nigel.

What do you find more difficult, comedy or drama?

It really depends on how you’re feeling at the time of acting it out. On a bad day everything is tough and on a good one things flow with ease.

You also romanced acclaimed actress and now director Nandita Das in Bas Yun Hi. How was it working with her? Was there anything you took away from the experience?

Wow that was a long time ago. But Nandita was very easy to work with and supported us bunch of new comers very well. She’s great.

Who is your favorite co-star from any of your films and who would you love to work with in the near future?

I’m an easy going person and usually get along with everyone so I have no issues. I enjoyed Shahana as an actor and am doing a film with her next year so I’m looking forward to that. Also Prachi, I think can be explored a lot more.

You once said that you don’t want to be Shah Rukh Khan and that “SRK is a star not an actor.” Would you care to elaborate?

Ha ha ya and a newspaper made a big deal about it. I guess it makes a good article heading. I was asked if I wanted to be Shah Rukh Khan and I said no I’m happy being Purab Kohli. Every actor aspires to attain the success that Shah Rukh Khan has worked very hard for. I take inspiration from him more than wanting to be him. I’m just happy being me and yes he is one of the biggest stars in the country. I think the size of his stardom over powers the actor.

You also said “less talented people get roles without blinking” which many people would agree with. Why do you think this is so and do you think this will ever change?

I’ve learnt from then that one also needs to have a commercial value to get cast for certain projects. I guess the answer lies with the audience. I myself like to watch films with an interesting star cast. So a good commercial value becomes the talent… substituting acting skills. There are beautiful people I like to watch and forgive their bad acting.

Purab, what other projects will the audiences be seeing you in next?

Rectangular Love Story will release February next year.

Lastly, is there anything you would like to say to all your fans on BollySpice and around the world?

Rock on I guess!

Thank you, Purab, for spending your time to do this interview. We really appreciate your candid answers and wish you the best of luck with Rectangular Love Story, along with all your future projects.

Rock On!! is still number 1 at the box office after its release on the 29th of August. Don’t miss out on what is now being called one of the greatest films of the year. Also, be sure to check out our exclusive interviews with Abhishek Kapoor, Farhan Akhtar and Luke Kenny. Meanwhile, stay tuned as BollySpice brings you many more.

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