Purab Kohli | The Spool

What are the pressures of your profession as an actor?

I think to put it in one word it is acceptance. Everything you do, everything you say, your Friday release, everything really depends on how much the audience wants to see you and accept you.

So there’s that pressure at the end of the day. Everything else is a mission to get that acceptance. So the pressure distributes across the board. You know if this does well then people will also want to come for the next one. That’s extremely pressurizing. On the day of release you will be sitting down, looking at reviews, looking at numbers trying to see what’s come in, how many people are watching it. That’s pressurizing you know. And sometimes that also plays off when you are doing a performance. Often I have caught myself and I try hard not to do it but you think, acha this will look good or this is what the audience will like because you are trying to play to the gallery to get that acceptance. But you have to stop yourself and say I have to listen to this man/woman directing me and only work towards that acceptance at that point.

When you are a VJ, even if not complete freedom, you do have a little freedom to be yourself; your personality, your attitude is you, it’s not constructed. But acting on the other hand is where you are expected to be a character, take on another persona altogether, how did that transition to acting happen after Channel V?

So I’ll correct that a bit, because especially

hosting shows for music television, you have an audience that starts at about 13, early teens and then goes on to 21-22 and maybe 25-26. After a point you realize that you’ve grown out of it but your job still expects you to be catering to that age group. People who have grown up with you have gotten busy and moved on to watching late night shows or movies or something else. So I grew out of it too, after a point I really couldn’t be myself.

I had to be someone I was rather than someone I had become. The travel really let me be myself, and when Channel V started cutting down on the travel and moving everything into the studio, that’s when I decided to move on, to films. Because I was acting first, through my time in Channel V I was continuing to act. Though I did not know what I really wanted to do because I started as an actor, then I was hosting shows, but quite honestly I was just having fun. I was earning money, having fun so it kind of all just fit in.

In 2005 I did a film called My Brother Nikhil, it was my 4th film actually. And working with Onir and Sanjay on that film was superb, ofcourse the idea was quite path breaking for it’s time nobody thought of making a film on that sort of subject. It was a lovely time and then when I saw the film on the screen I was like, ‘wow’, it really moved me. I felt for the characters and I felt how important my job was as an actor. That’s when I decided to become an actor, stay in this medium, make it a career. Until then I was thinking, ‘okay once the party gets over, I will go back to college and figure out what I want to do’. For me it was a party going on for 5-6 years. Now I had made a choice and that’s also when the struggle started. Until then I didn’t want, it came my way so I did it, I was picking from the buffet what was available. But now I was making a conscious choice, like here’s a movie but now I want that, which is not on the buffet so I have to figure out a way and get it. So I kind of stopped hosting for a while, started even doing production to fill up my time. Started consciously looking for film work. That was a tough period, ‘cause I kind of had an identity fixed because of being projected on Channel V. Like you say, the cool the trendy that kind of limits you when you are an actor. People only look at you with that image in their mind saying he fits as an urban yuppy character, that is not a heroic sort of character in the Bollywood bracket. So I think I’m really breaking out of that mould only now, with stuff like Airlift, P.O.W, you know where characters are quite contrasting to what people have usually seen me in.

So is it a conscious choice to do more unconventional roles or are you just built like that? Do you sometime feel a conflict that maybe I should not be unconventional in the roles I choose in the way I am?

I don’t think it’s a conscious choice really to be unconventional but I mean that’s the choices I make. If it’s different from everybody else’s and it’s unconventional, I don’t think of it that way, for me it’s the only choice I know. I wish I had not done some things and done some things definitely. I think we all look back often and contemplate, it’s good to do that to atleast make sure you are moving in some direction. But at the same time having said that, I do feel that I have enjoyed most of the things I have done. At the end of the day that’s what you look at when you work. I see, specially in today’s day and age, living in a city like Bombay it’s so difficult it’s so hard… I have seen people and have some friends who work extremely hard and are extremely unhappy with what they do, I mean they start off in a place where they are driven to do something and they end up just making money and just paying the bills, you know. And I feel quite fortunate that the choices I have made have helped me live, sort of a happy and an easy life compared to most other people.

Ofcourse there are disappointments, there are things I feel, like if I look in hindsight and say I wanted to be a Bollywood actor from day 1 then Channel V was a disaster. It set this image of me in people’s mind and till date I get called for the same bloody role.

I mean if you read the script sometime, you are like, ‘Fuck! Come on man think of me differently, why am I being offered this part and not that?’ So those are frustrations of the actor inside me. But it’s really the way you look at life, I mean I really enjoyed those 8 years of my life and I think this is a fair and easy trade off. I guess you gotta give some to get some.

Watch Purab candidly speak about the aspirations as an actor while balancing it with one's own personality


Yudi or Gaurav?

On television or off? Haha okay ummm… I think on TV Gaurav, off TV Yudi.

Three secrets about Goa?

I think they are better left secrets, because everything else is not a secret no?

  1. Not a secret but I think unexplored are the hills of goa, on the east. Thankfully they are still forests. One of them is even being proposed as a Tiger park. Mahadev Sanctuary.
  2. February is a great month for urac. Alcohol is bad if overdone yes, but urac is lovely because 2 pegs and you are gone, not drunk but just pass out. Urac is the first distill and feni the second distill.
  3. It’s a secret, but I’ll give it away, there’s a restaurant near Bambolim church on the highway. Right alongside the church is a little road that goes in, take that road and go there lunchtime, and the minute you see lots of cars parked, essentially only local taxi drivers. I have seen it when it was literally a garage. It’s a place called Shaarda. People also call it Gopal, because I think the cook’s name is Gopal.

One person in the industry you fangirl over?

True to my character Deepika Padukone, in the Nescafe ad. I was quite excited to have done those films with her.  I really admire Alia, and she is a really fine actor. She is a star. I am a fan of hers, when one of her film comes out I look forward to going and seeing her in the film, more than any other actor.

One role that you regret giving up?

Umm… the role was good but I didn’t think too much of the film, which was Badmaash Company. There was a part that was offered to me, it was a nice part. I was in a different space that time it was after Rock on, so I didn’t want to be a non-protagonist.  I think I should have done it.

VJ Purab or Purab the actor, who has better luck with women?

The constant thing is Purab, but I think I have been considerably lucky, I’d like to imagine that. When I was a VJ I was a lot more fancy freak. I don’t think I was in a serious relationship with anybody then. When I turned into a full-fledged actor I turned more serious in life.

Do you think having a pretty face distracts from talent, a lot of people say Purab’s damn cute

With Noor I think that’s definitely been it. I have been seeing what people have been saying about it, everyone is like oh you are looking so hot and I’m like you think I did a good job also? I mean ofcourse you feel really happy that people are appreciating your peacock beauty but I think you also want to be appreciated for your work which you work hard for.

You get messages saying they should have taken your shirt off at the beginning not at the end for Noor. You kind of feel like an item number.