Purab Kohli: My child is an airlifted baby

Purab Kohli

He’s been a model, VJ, TV host, acting in Bollywood and has recently acted even in American TV series. We got the opportunity to interview this multi-talented personality Purab Kohli for AIRLIFT, and he revealed some interesting things to us.

Here are some excerpts:

How challenging was it to play your character in AIRLIFT?
Well I play the character of Ibrahim Durani who is relatively from a smaller town in India. He works from Kuwait for a pseudo-market chain. He’s married and his wife is on duty when the war breaks out and she’s missing. He’s trying to find her. There are many Indians and Akshay is helping them get evacuated from Kuwait. Ibrahim becomes a co-member of his team. It’s a hands-on character where he helps people out and at the same time, tries to find his own missing wife.

Did you have to learn Arabic for AIRLIFT?
No. I didn’t learn Arabic for this film, but definitely Arabic is an interesting culture. Also it’s a very old culture and infact it’s the second time I’ve been shooting in the Middle East for a long time. About 10 years ago, I shot a film in Dubai. I have a friend of mine who’s teaching Arabic and I went sat with him, heard a little lines and learnt Urdu back in India. So that’s really my only connection to Arabic.

You actually wanted to be a pilot in real life. So how closely do you relate to your character?
That was many, many years ago. It feels like another life now. My character has got nothing to do with flying except airlifting out of the film.

Were you offered this role or another in the movie?
I was offered no role. I forced myself into the film. Producer Nikhil Advani told me that Raja Menon (my first director) was planning a movie. He said AIRLIFT has got some really good parts and asked me why don’t I come in? When I called Raja, he said people have been telling me to look at you for this film but you’re too urban and my character is very small town. I don’t think you’ll fit the character. I said give me some time I’ll come and meet you after a month. I was travelling and he was anyways starting the film after some time. We never got a chance to meet for long. So we just let it go. After 3 months he called me and said, ‘Listen. Are you there? I want to meet you.’ So I met him when I hadn’t shaved for a long time and had hair grown out. I just went and showed him my face and he said you have been casted.

Do you believe AIRLIFT (inspite of not being a masala flick) can be a game-changer for you?
Well, AIRLIFT is a really big film. It’s an Akshay Kumar starrer. Although AIRLIFT doesn’t have a mixture of what Akshay Kumar offers in a film, it still is a nice story driven by passion, patriotism, which I think has become a sort of order that Akshay Kumar does every Republic Day – you see SPECIAL 26 or BABY. That’s something audiences are expecting from him. For me, that is sort of a masala formula where there are regular elements of what he usually does. Especially with AIRLIFT, the audiences need to be really up for a surprise because I feel he’s done something really extraordinary. When I was acting with him, I was wow. He’s really given a lot to this film and I think if the audience goes and sees it, they’ll really appreciate it.

Are you going to learn Martial Arts from Akshay?
Not learn, but definitely inspired from him. If you work with him on the sets, you’ll see he’s so driven about staying fit and keeping his body in check. He looks like a 30-35 year old. He’s maintained himself he doesn’t look his age. What his body is able to do at this age requires lots of training. So I’m definitely inspired to take some sort of Martial Arts.

You would also be having a scene with Nimrat, right?
We had a couple of scenes towards the end, but my interaction is mostly with Akshay.

So what was the equation like with Akshay and Nimrat?
With Akshay, even in an emotional scene he would show us some funny forwards and keep us entertained. It was fun shooting AIRLIFT.

Congratulations on being a parent. How’s the journey been?
She’s turned one month old today. I must say she’s an airlifted baby because she was conceived on the AIRLIFT set. Like AIRLIFT, I think my baby has done a full cycle. My wife conceived on the sets and she completes a month during the release of the film. Both AIRLIFT and my wife took similar time – while AIRLIFT took 10 months, she took 9.

You’ve been a model, VJ, TV host, acting in Bollywood and now even in American TV series. So what next?
I don’t know. Maybe write something on my own? I have been trying to write something for a few years but nothing concrete has come about. But this year I’m going to take some time out and focus. If I get some concentrated time to switch off and be in that zone and write something till I finish it, then it’ll happen. Maybe by the second half of the year, I plan to finish off all my commitments and take a month or two off and then focus on writing something that I’ve been looking to do for a while now.

So you don’t plan to be singing anytime soon?
I can sing for you anytime you want, but the only thing is that I’m such a bad singer that you’ll run away.

Is there another action movie in the pipeline?
No. At the moment, it’s just these two that I’m working on.