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Exclusive! Purab Kohli: It's an honour to contribute to Indian representation in Hollywood with Matrix Resurrections

The actor was last seen in London Files, a web series on Voot Select. The crime thriller show also reunites him with his Rock On co-star, Arjun Rampal.

  • Akhila Damodaran

Last Updated: 11.14 AM, Apr 29, 2022

Exclusive! Purab Kohli: It's an honour to contribute to Indian representation in Hollywood with Matrix Resurrections
Purab Kohli/Instagram

Actor Purab Kohli has been winning the hearts of the audience with his versatile characters in films and web shows, and now again with his recent outing in the form of a web series, London Files. The actor plays the role of a media mogul in the crime thriller show, directed by Sachin Pathak. The series also reunites him with his Rock On co-star, Arjun Rampal.

The actor, who has shifted his base to London recently, talks to OTTplay exclusively about shooting for the series in his present hometown, sharing the screen with Rampal again, working on the latest Matrix film and more. Excerpts:

The trailer of your series London Files looks really very intriguing. So does your character. You play a role of a father whose daughter goes missing. There're a few shades of grey and mystery to your character as well. So could you tell us a bit about the show? And what was it about the character that attracted you to do this role?

The very shades of grey that you mentioned is what attracted me the most to this amazing character, who is someone you sort of can very easily hate. But when you look into him, you see that there's a certain amount of solidness and power and control that he has and also, a softness to him. You kind of start feeling attracted to him. I think that's what was interesting about Amar. I just really enjoyed how quickly he moves through many shades and how it's sort of spread out to the episodes of the show. He's someone who comes and goes every now and then but every time he comes in, you sort of see him transformed and feeling new things. And I like that when a character moves ahead, through the story quite quickly. There is no stagnant feeling.

The series is set in London and now you are also based out of the city. So did your London life help or influence in some way while you were preparing for this role?

Amar Roy is a media baron. And, There're a lot of examples all over the world you can draw for references. I think me being placed in London made the producers very happy that they can cast an actor who's already present here. And luckily, the other actors in the series also live in the UK or London, like Sapna Pabbi. So I think that's the sort of benefit of being cast in a show that's being shot here. If you live here, it becomes like you are working on your home ground. But as part of the character, I think I probably drew more from lots of Indian media barons and others that I am well versed with.

I believe you play a migrant yourself, who works towards getting the anti-immigration bill passed. And, but not much has been explored in the series, in terms of why does he do that and what's the thought behind the character. So, will we get to see more of that in the upcoming seasons?

That's very telling of the first season, so I won't dive too much into it right now because we want people to see the show. But yes, I think every series leaves characters with the hope that they would come back with more flavours, of mystery. People want to know about that misconstrue like you're posing the question right now. I'm sure people who see the series will come back with a lot of questions about a lot of other characters. And Amar, in that sense, is quite centered. This is quite central to the main plot of the show. So he could definitely come back with a lot of questions that he would need to answer in season two.

So the show has been renewed for Season 2?

I'm not sure about that.

You have earlier worked with Arjun Rampal in Rock On as well. What was it like to work with him again? Did you start where you left off at Rock On?

Arjun and I have sort of stayed connected to each other. But of course, being on a set with him is fun, always. We get along well. We're friends. There's respect for each other. We support each other when we're performing scenes, so it's nice to work with him. Particularly in London files, I was really surprised by him doing this role because you see Arjun normally in sort of a heroic kind of character. It's quite refreshing to see him in this spot, and he's done a fantastic job. When you see the series, you can tell that he's really played the part well.

Arjun plays a character who hallucinates and is seen taking drugs as well. So does it highlight mental health as well?

I don't think it highlights any of it. His character is a troubled character. He has a lot of things going on. So I don't think the show's focusing on any kind of political message or any social message. It's a pure entertainer, and these characters are all gray and dark. I don't think any character is pure white clean in this. So we're exploring many aspects of all these characters. So as I said, I don't think it's making any political or social statement, we're trying to build characters with interesting traits to them.

I'm sure you must have gotten this question a lot. But I also would like to know how is it like working on the Matrix movie? Did you get to meet Priyanka on the set?

Amazing. I didn't have any scenes with Priyanka and so, I didn't meet her. But of course, she was a part of the film too. So it was great. When the first Matrix movie was made, no one thought that there would be two prominent Indian actors placed in one of the films. That's quite exciting. I remember when I did a bunch of interviews for the Matrix movie, there was this visceral feeling, I got from so many journalists. They said they felt so proud when they saw me in the film. It's such a film that represents such a large diversity. And it's such a great feeling for everybody, to see me and Priyanka in it. And knowing that from people who've seen it that we provided a contribution to some kind of representation of India in that franchise feels quite good. It feels like quite an honour.

Have you always been a fan of The Matrix?

Yeah, absolutely. I worked on Sense 8 as well and Lana directed me in it. So working again with Lana was just the highlight.

So any other Hollywood projects that you are working on?

The big reason I shifted to London was to try and get some work in the West. But yes, soon enough. There is something interesting happening. I'd be very happy to be the first to put it out there.

Would that mean that we won't see you much in Indian cinema and shows then?

No. A lot of stuff is happening. I've just finished shooting another series, which will be out later in the year. I have a film that's due to release this year. So there's a lot of stuff happening there in India.

Would you be able to share more details about these projects?

When the time is right, I will.

You spoke earlier about the diversity in cinema. And you see that happening in India now as well, with so many crossovers across industries happening. And I think a part of it has happened because of the pandemic and the more exposure to content of different languages due to OTT. So what do you have to say about the entire OTT boom?

I think it's great. Lots of actors have employment, lots of talent have employment including actors, directors, writers, camera persons and other people behind the scene. You come to a city like Bombay, and everyone's really busy and working. So that's fantastic. But at the same time, I don't think cinema is gone because I think cinema is an important source of entertainment in our country, for families, so I don't think it's going to die off. You're now seeing it bounce back after the pandemic. Now with the same huge successes in cinemas again, you're seeing the big blockbusters released back to back. It's a good time for the cinema also. And it's a good time for OTT as well people are consuming so much of it.

Many also say that with OTT, the pressure of doing really well at the box office is kind of off the table?

The pressure of doing really well and getting numbers at the box office is kind of, off the table now with the direct-to-OTT releases. When it comes to movies, the pressure is kind of off but you still want people to watch it. That burst of the excitement of people watching your film when it releases in the first couple of weeks is more exciting. To answer your question, it feels less stressful.

Do you find any difference working on an OTT project as well compared to other mediums like film or TV?

Yeah, I think every medium has its own hardships and the way you perform. You have to showcase yourself, and how you act in front of the camera for a television series versus a film and versus a web platform. You try and understand the medium, the size of the screen and the audience for these individual mediums. So each medium demands its own aspects of doing the work.

You've worked across different mediums. Which one do you find particularly very challenging?

I find television a bit challenging because I think their storylines are often thinner and run for longer periods of time. So actors have to hold onto their character for long periods of time. I find that hard because for me, characters need to move faster through emotions. I hate lingering on with it. I start finding it boring as a performer to keep with the same emotion. So I find television harder, which is why I do that the least. But the web series and films are what I really love doing, so I'm getting a lot of that.