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Exclusive! Purab Kohli: Still don't fit into Bollywood mainstream, producers think I can't pull the audience to the theatre

Actor Purab Kohli, who curved a niche for himself with several projects opens up on why he still struggles to bag a lead role in mainstream Bollywood films and questions if things changed for real

Exclusive! Purab Kohli: Still don't fit into Bollywood mainstream, producers think I can't pull the audience to the theatre
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  • Arundhuti Banerjee

Last Updated: 01.32 PM, Sep 19, 2022

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Despite making his mark with multiple performances in some of the milestone projects on OTT and in Indian cinema, be it an iconic film like My Brother...Nikhil, Rock On!!, I Am, and web series like It's Not That Simple, Out Of Love, and Criminal Justice: Adhura Sach to name a few - actor Purab Kohli says bagging a lead role in mainstream Bollywood is still a challenge for him.

In conversation with OTTplay, while asked why don't we get to watch him in mainstream Bollywood as often, Purab said, " I do not get that many offers for main lead in a Bollywood film, because producers think that they cannot sell a ticket in my name, they think I cannot pull the audience to the theatre. You see, that is the core business model of the theatrical release of a film. It is cruel at times. Releasing a film in the theatre is expensive and therefore risky. Can we take that risk, is it worth taking?"

Sharing one of his recent experiences, the actor said, " I got a script which was quite interesting and we passed it on to a production house. When we were trying to pitch it, we are told that producers are not interested to invest in such a subject just now because a film on an experimental subject is too much to gamble on. They cannot sell the film to a large audience."

He went on, adding, " When we are talking about experimental, interesting, hard-hitting content, we can rely on OTT platforms. But theatrical release, nah! tough!"

Purab remained one of the actors, a movie lover's favourite who delivered films like Woh Lamhe, Bas Ek Pal, Awarapan, Jal, Airlift, and Mission Mangal among others.

Though playing a homosexual character has been normalised among actors in the recent past, Purab nailed the space back in 2005, with My Brother...Nikhil(MBN), a Onir directorial also starred Juhi Chawla, Sanjay Suri, Victor Banerjee among others. It was the first ever Hindi cinema that dealt with AIDS and same-sex relationships in a film.

Purab recalled how one of his family members reacted to the film, and how the film opened doors for conversation between different generations.

"After the release of My Brother... Nikhil', my uncle who I would have considered to be a homophobic man, came to me saying, 'beta, mein jaa raha hoon tumhare picture dekhne'. I was worried as to how he will take the film, though we knew that we told the story with utmost sensitivity and sincerity. He came out of the theatre after the film, lit a Cigar, and called me saying, "I took a deep breath and felt light on my chest! I felt nice...It's a special film! I enjoyed every aspect of it." I think that said it all," shared Purab.

Praising the director of the film Onir, Purab also mentioned that such films with the right kind of representation, be it MBN, I Am, sparked the conversation in the LGBTQ+ community since 2005, at a time when homosexuality was criminal and due to that, the community suffered majorly.

The actor was last seen in the web series Criminal Justice: Adhura Sach, streaming on Disney+Hotstar.

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