Purab Kohli's character in Noor, Ayan Bannerjee, is suave and charming — he's the sort of man who sweeps female protagonists off their feet the instant they talk to him. He has a bullet wound from a war, and is not afraid of poking fun at himself. The air of mystery and effortlessness that surrounds him will remind you of Rahul Khanna's Kabir Chaudhary from Wake Up Sid!
If you think Kohli's character seems too good to be true, you're right. What makes Ayan memorable are the shades of grey he exhibits during the course of the film, in which he stars opposite Sonakshi Sinha, who plays the titular role. In this conversation, the actor tells us about how he prepared for the role, the similarities between this character and the one he essayed in P.O.W. - Bandi Yuddh Ke and the Noor-Ayan equation.
Kohli's character in Noor is a front-line war photojournalist visiting Mumbai to exhibit some of his photographs. "For me, his is an exciting, high-risk profession. His backstory boasts of an iconic picture that he took while Saddam Hussein’s statue was being toppled in Baghdad. He comes into the story with that wing on his back," the actor explains. Sonakshi's character is enamoured by the lifestyle he leads and the job he does. "She finds Ayan’s character fascinating and sexy. That is what their chemistry is built on," he adds.
Kohli says that what drew him to Ayan's character is the importance he holds in the plot of the film and the interesting turn he brings about in it. He also remarks about Ayan's sex appeal and says, "He’s the sort of person you fall in love with when you see him. I enjoy his sexiness. I’ve never played a character that’s got this kind of energy before."
What relationship do Noor and Ayan share? "I think Ayan is attracted to Noor because of her simplicity, her innocence, which he probably had once. When he sees Noor, he wants that innocence back and wants to hold onto it," Kohli says. He describes their relationship as being intense, because they are very strongly attracted to each other. "I think a contrast and aspiration to be like each other, quite possibly, are reasons why they are attracted to each other," he explains. He says that it is the kind of relationship where you really want the other person, which can also be detrimental to yourself.
"The character came to me at an interesting time, you know. I’ve moved on from P.O.W., and my character in this show had the heavy baggage of being in captivity for 17 years. There was an aspect of war in that show that I shot nine months ago, and in the midst of it, this character appears, who is also in a war zone," Kohli explains. He says that Sartaj, his character in P.O.W., and Ayan are very different; Ayan is "more of the world" on account of being well traveled, intelligent and educated, while Sartaj, a jawan in the army, is limited by his rural upbringing. "Sartaj is physically affected by it, whereas Ayan is only emotionally affected by it," he adds.
To prepare for the role, one of the things Kohli did was look at a lot of war photographs and try to imagine what kind of life one lives as a soldier or a child in the war zone. "Those images are very gruesome, and Ayan has seen them in person. He has several layers, and he functions with them," the actor says. He adds that his character is quite unlike other people, and looks at life differently. "Ayan is also a cynic," he says, "that is what Noor is really attracted to — to that dark side of him."
Kohli said that he had a few questions about the character, and wasn't sure about how director Sunhil Sippy was rounding him off, because when the actor spoke to Sippy for the first time, the latter was still in the process of writing Noor. "He just said stuff to me that made complete sense. The director and I were on the same page, which for me is a very important aspect. As an actor, you have your own vision of something and when your director has a different vision it just clashes," he adds.
Kohli says that he chose not to read the book that Noor is based on, Karachi, You're Killing Me! written by Saba Imtiaz, because he didn't want to create an impression of this film from having read a book and then have expectations. "After the film releases, perhaps I will feel like going to the book and exploring it," he says.
Purab Kohli will be seen next in Sense8, a sci-fi drama web series on Netflix, which is due to start streaming in May.
Published Date: Apr 22, 2017 12:47 pm | Updated Date: May 29, 2017 03:41 pm