Purab Kohli has never been known to make conventional choices. He’s had a career graph ranging from being a VJ to an actor and every risk he’s taken on the way has paid off… Sense 8 being the more recent example of that same spirit. It all started in 2014 when his manager called him saying there was an audition for a part in a Netflix web series being made by the Wachowskis. And here he is now, part of the huge ensemble cast of a sensational hit. MH caught up with him and here’s what’s happening in his life right now…
MH Team: How did Sense 8 come about?
Purab Kohli: Back then in India we had only just started binge watching Game of Thrones, Breaking Bad etc. Netflix seemed like a first world privilege back then. But I was super excited about auditioning for the Wachowskis. I, like many from my generation, am a huge fan of the Matrix and Cloud Atlas. I did the audition which I thought was damn good, and about a week later I got a call from the casting director saying “A technical problem had erased my audition!”
I kept my fingers crossed right through the re-audition and hoped this one was not jinxed. A couple of months later I was traveling around the country promoting a film due to release, I was driving between Kanpur and Lucknow and my manager called saying the Wachowskis are in town and want to meet and do a reading with you. Gulp. I flew to mumbai taking a days break between the promotion, to meet the Wachowskis in person. And before I knew it, I was being directed by them on season one.
What are the other international projects on hand at the moment?
Not much, really! One has to create a base in the West. I’m starting with baby steps towards America and just creating a base for myself in London at the moment. I had an offer for a film early this year but did not like the script. Come September, I start hunting on newer grounds.
What was the experience like? The directors are big Hollywood names, the cast was very, very diverse… Please share an anecdote where you found yourself in a challenging situation or a fun memory from the shoot…
Sense 8 has been such a fulfilling experience. In the first season Rajan, my character was only part of the Mumbai story and quite separated from the other worlds Sense 8 encapsulates. In the second season, the character travels into the realm of the Sense 8s, and of course, in the finale, he becomes one with them. With the journey of my character, I had an adventure of sorts with the show that has made me hungry for more. I feel like I’m a fan of the show myself. Not do I only crave to see more of it I long to act more in it too.
We had a lot of fun during the finale. Traveling between 3 beautiful cities, Berlin, Paris and Napoli we were a gang for 45 days taking each city we went to by storm. We worked hard and partied harder. I think the greatest thing that ever happened with Sense 8 was that the fans fought for it and demanded a proper closure to the show, and they got it! I won’t be surprised if Netflix decides to do a third season because the fans are strong on Sense 8 and still signing petitions to make it happen. It’s truly a cult show and has given a voice to so many people around the world.
Tell us a little about your baby girl...
Her name is Inaya Amelia, Interestingly Lucy my wife chose Inaya and I chose Amelia. I am not such a busy actor, I choose to work on very few projects through the year. So, when I finish a hectic schedule I usually take a few months off to reconnect with my family and myself. I love spending time with Inaya, I’m rediscovering life through her, and life is good.
On the fitness front, what’s your workout routine like?
It changes every few months. I get bored doing the same workouts so I try to enliven my routine every now and then. If you go back and turn the pages of Men’s Health history you will stumble on a few routines I have followed in the past. Currently, I’m just swimming a lot.
How many days a week do you manage to work out, given the travel and erratic schedules?
Everyday. At least 30-45 mins of increased heart rate.
How do you manage to follow a diet while on the go?
I don’t really follow a strict diet. The only thing I try to do is to eat light as that gives me more energy to go through long days. If the body is busy digesting heavy food it has lesser bandwidth to do other things I’m interested in doing. I have been interested and trying out some intermittent fasting lately.
What’s the kind of fitness advice you’d give to men in their late 30s?
Don’t kill yourself exercising. Just try and push yourself a notch up every other day. A workout should rejuvenate you not exhaust you.
Do you plan on taking on a different approach as you enter the next decade next year?
Setting up base in London, trying to explore an international acting career, writing my first film script all this and expecting our next baby before my birthday in 2019… that’s a whole lot in store for turning 40.
Who are your fitness icons?
I must say I admire Akshay (Kumar) for his dedication towards his fitness and body. I noticed how disciplined he is while I worked with him on Airlift. Also how he keeps it natural and simple when there is so much artificial supplementation available in the world today.