"I need to be excited and enthusiastic all the time; I work on impulse"

He's a recent entrant to the world of hysteria ridden Fridays , public adulation and screen glamour. Purab Kohli' s venture into Bollywood with Bas Yun Hi is a natural progression for the model turned anchor. The Channel [V] anchor has waltzed his way through serials, ads and innovative shows on V with equall finesse. His kitty includes Zee's Hip Hip Hurray, B4U's Sangharsh, apart from ads like Compaq Presario, Colgate, Amaron Batteries and Pizza Hut.

Purab met up with indiantelevision.com's
Trupti Ghag at a suburban coffee joint for an interview. Excerpts:


When and how did you break into television?

I never really thought about working on television. While still in college, I seriously contemplated training as a pilot. But as luck would have it, my uncle suggested that I audition for a role in his friends' (Vinay Pathak and Nupur Asthana), television serial for Zee Hip Hip Hurray.

I was 18 at that time and my first reaction was "yikes! a Hindi television serial, that's so uncool". Nonetheless, I landed up at the producer's place with a few friends in tow. I had told my friends I would just walk out in five minutes after turning down the offer, but returned 45 minutes later with a role in my hand and some really mad friends to face.


How did you prepare for the role? Did you take any acting lessons ?

Since all of us were novices, Nupur and Vinay had arranged for a 15 days acting workshop. That fortnight was quite a big help. I still use most of the learnings I imbibed during those times.

I never enrolled for any acting classes. Never really felt the need to do so till date. I might if I am required to do so.


"Channel [V] has been very supportive of my work and I have been slogging too"


How did the Bollywood venture happen?

My acting career may have just happened by chance, but I never took it lightly. After being an actor, a veejay and a model, the next step was the big screen.

Padam Kumar, the director of Supari, approached me with a role two and half years ago but I was very skeptical at that time. After some convincing, I did agree to do the film. The movie was supposed to be my debut film, but the movie got stuck. That was the beginning of a bleak period in my life.


Care to tell us something more about it?

Well, Supari was supposed to be my launch vehicle but unfortunately the movie got into some problems. Other producers thought it would be risky to take me on for another project as I was not a bankable star and I could also not sport the 'film debutante' tag (sighs).


Then how was the role in 'Bas Yun Hi' arranged?

This is an interesting tale. Raja Menon, Bas Yun Hi 's director was scouting for faces and he liked me in the Compaq Presario ad. My sister and Raja's wife Anu used to go to the same gym. Anu just happened to tell my sister that Raja was trying to contact Purab. It was then that my sister offered to help out and asked me to speak to Raja (grins).

By then, I was quite disillusioned with the industry and so as soon as the meeting was arranged, I told him about Supari. He was nonchalant about it. He began to talk about the part that he was to offer me. And here I am as Aditya in Bas Yun Hi.


" I do not put on an act when I am presenting a show. I behave and react just the way I normally would"

You are still very much a part of the Channel [V] veejay brigade. How did you manage both? Did the channel make some special concessions for you?

Channel [V] has been very supportive of my work and I have been slogging too. I usually try and work round the clock to complete the assignments.

I guess if I am not there either Yudi or Gaurav will take over. Since they are also doing some projects besides Channel[V] and I fill in for them when required, it's more of a mutual deal than a special concession.


Do you take a pay cut for it?

No! We have a yearly contract and a fixed pay packet. We are paid per month and not per shoot so I have no problems in that department.

But I guess the next change in my contract, this June-July, will have a change in terms from my side. Since I am also planning to do a few more movie projects, I will probably want a few changes in terms as well.


You have been working in television, in the ad world and now in the movie industry as well. How different is one job from another?

Very different. I do not put on an act when I am presenting a show. I behave and react just the way I normally would. So you can say that it comes naturally to me.

As for acting, be it in movies or in serials, it is a long learning process for me. I like rehearsals, I take inputs from my directors and people that I think know what they say.

Television incorporates bits of everything, be it theatre or the big screen. Movies, on the other hand, have a different appeal, the reach though selective ensures immediate fame.


"The project is the director's baby he has to decide what to do with it. If you butt in every time it is just curbing the directors creativity"


Tell us something about your role in 'Bas Yun Hi'. How did perform the part? What kind of preparation went into it?

Bas Yun Hi was conceptualized as a movie catering to urban sensibilities. It was something that you and I as city youth can relate to. I play the lead character 'Aditya', a typical guy next door. He is a fun person, a smooth talker.

Bas Yun Hi narrates the story of five friends in their late twenties. The story is spread over a period of 10 days when their lives are suddenly transported into a flurry of activities after one of them (that's me) plays a prank.

Aditya is not an all white character, he has a grey side as well. He is an attention seeker and quite nasty at times. While playing the part, I therefore tried and remembered that all the time. What really helped me perform was Raja's narration. He fleshed out the character for me, explained the mannerisms, the talking style. I just took it from there. By the time we actually began shooting, all of us had become great pals. We had spent a good amount of time discussing our roles and so when the cameras rolled, we just became those characters.

What about 'Supari'?

Supari is an out and out commercial film. Padam Kumar convinced me to take up the role two years back. The movie is about a group of contract killers coming to terms with their lives. I play a character called 'Chicken'. The only similarity the movie has with Bas... is that Nandita is in the movie too.

It is a dark film. My role is that of a guy who constantly seeks assurance, he is a very insecure person.

I received a character brief and I worked on it, discussed it with my costars Uday Chopra, Rahul Dev and AkashDeep Sehgal. We meet up both on and off sets with the director and tried to know every character, their habits. What was left was just spilling it all out before the camera.
Would you call yourself a director's actor?

Absolutely! I think it is best to take lessons from them, it is so much more systematic. The project is the director's baby - he has to decide what to do with it. If you butt in every time, it could just curb the director's creativity. It is not as if I just behave like a puppet, I do give in my inputs if I feel it will add to the scene.
What is the first thing that comes to your mind when you watch yourself on the screen?

Eeeks! I go through various stages of discomfort (laughs). There has never been a time that I am totally satisfied with the performance. You could call it an over critical approach.

While shooting for [V], I normally avoid looking at the rushes, if the director is okay with it, I am just fine.

But I am dead serious about my career as an actor. I would call myself a learning-every-minute actor.

How do you you think your actor's portfolio should look like a few years from now?

I am not comfortable doing certain kind of roles and I definitely would not be doing them. Neither would I play tough and only stick to the lead roles. I don't mind playing the second lead as long as it is exciting and sensible.

Besides Bas Yun Hi and Supari, I am looking forward to another movie that is a father and son relationship story.


"There is no dearth of good programmes on air...there is something for everybody. "
Who are the directors you like working with?

Prasoon Pandey, Raja Menon,Padam Kumar...I just love the way these guys operate...very systematic and extremely creative.

You started off as a television actor, are you planing to make a comeback sometime soon?

Hey, I did a guest appearance in Kyunkii Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi, doesn't that count!

(smiles) I would like to do some more television. The main problem with me is that I get bored too soon. I just simply love doing ad films, couple of days and viola!.. the film is ready. I need to be excited and enthusiastic about the project all the time, I work on impulse.

What do you think about the current television scenario? Do you think enough quality work is being done?

Television as a medium per se is quite new, if you are comparing it with the television abroad it would be unfair. As for the choice of subjects, believe me there is a large audience for such shows. There is no dearth of good programmes on air...there is something for everybody.

What is your wish list for the future?

Nobody is ever satisfied with whatever they get, they always want more. The list is going to be changing constantly.

When I got a pay check of Rs 3500 for a job during college, I was thrilled but then I wished I had some more. I was chosen as a veejay and my paycheck showed Rs 25,000 and I still wasn't satisfied. Now that I think about it, may be I need to be contented with whatever I have.

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