Actor Purab Kohli opens up on playing small parts in big shows and films, his way of judging the impact of a character and why Raja Krishna Menon did not want to cast him in the film Airlift.
Last Updated: 09.59 AM, Sep 12, 2022
As the third season of the show Criminal Justice: Adhura Sach is released, the audience has got a chance to see a very different side of the actor, Purab Kohli, in his portrayal of Neeraj Ahuja, as part of the narrative.
Even though the length of the character was comparatively smaller than that of the rest of the cast, according to Purab, he is very happy that the audience had a "want more" reaction to his scenes in the show.
In conversation with OTTplay, the actor opens up.
Asked about the kind of review he is getting for the show, Purab told OTTplay, "One of the interesting parts of the review I found is that people wanted to see more of me in the show. I knew it is a smaller part of a big show, but I was sure from the beginning to be part of this world. I also believe that one should put the hardest work even in a smaller part, and that was the thought for me when I worked on the show."
Elaborating more on his character, the actor shared, "I played Neeraj Ahuja in Criminal Justice: Adhura Sach. It was a hard character for me to play. It was one of the saddest, grimmest characters I ever played. If we look at the whole show, there are multiple emotions that are felt, be it anger, betrayal, sorrow, etc. But the element of sadness is actually on Neeraj's because it is his daughter who has been brutally murdered. So, as an actor, I felt the responsibility of holding on to the sadness of the character that is crucial to the narrative."
This was not the first time that the audience noticed Purab in smaller parts and yet he created an impact with his acting and screen presence. One such example was the Akshay Kumar starrer Bollywood film Airlift, released in 2016. Purab narrated the character of Ibrahim Durrani, an Indian who lived in Kuwait and lost his wife the very next day of their wedding during the invasion of Iraqi troops in Kuwait.
Purab said, "Airlift is a film that is very close to my heart. I was working with Raja again after a long time. I had worked with him earlier on a project in Pasoori. By the way, I must share that initially, Raja was not convinced to cast me as Ibrahim in the film. He thought I did not look the part (laugh). And I was following him up because I wanted to do my part, even if it was small!"
Recalling that phase of his career, he says that coming back to a mainstream star-studded film was important for him post the release of his indie film titled Jal.
Set in the Rann of Kutch, the film Jal was released in 2013, directed by Girish Malik, and also featured Kirti Kulhari.
"When I was shooting for the film Jal, I disconnected myself from every other work and only focused on that film, quite passionately. The film was released theatrically but did not do well, and it was a rough patch. I think people forgot who I was as an actor, and I really wanted to make a comeback in the mainstream. But finally, it worked out and I think people can remember my character, Ibrahim, in Airlift," said Purab.
While asked how he judges the power of a small character in a bigger story, the actor said, "I look for the potential of a scene that is written on paper, at the script level. Then I think about the impact of that scene on the whole narrative and if I will enjoy playing the part. There is no other way to judge a script."
Interestingly, his struggle to find visibility all over again as the actor started bagging back-to-back projects for web series and films like It's Not That Simple, Typewriter, Out of Love, London Confidential, and London Files, among others.
The latest show, Criminal Justice: Adhura Sach, is directed by Rohan Sippy and produced by Applause Entertainment and BBC Studios India.
It features Pankaj Tripathi, Shweta Basu Prasad, Gaurav Gera, and Swastika Mukherjee in pivotal roles and is streaming on Disney+ Hotstar.