How many people do we know, especially those who lead a public life, who come from conventional backgrounds to have taken a rather determined and bold step of bringing their child into this world out of wedlock. Actor Purab Kohli is one such person. He is also someone who looks back at his life with no regrets. His professional life, too, has been sans rigidity. He tells us what gives him the conviction to stay true to himself, and take pride in his decisions.
Acting was serendipitous for me. I was not inclined towards acting. It was the opposite actually. I never imagined a career in the film industry. My father, Harsh Kohli produced films till 1981. He gave that up a couple of years after I was born and our family moved to Lonavla, where he set up a hotel business. So, growing up, there was no real firsthand influence from the film industry in my life. Lurking somewhere in the background of my consciousness though, was the fact that my father came from a massive film family. The Anands (Chetan, Dev and Vijay) are my grand uncles. Maybe then, completely unaware, the bug hung back somewhere in my genes. In spite of being related to some of India’s most talented actors and directors, I chose to train as a pilot. But I never completed my training. As a matter of fact, I barely even started it properly. Just some ground training exams, and a couple of flights later, I quit. I gave it up since I was afraid that I wouldn’t get a job, given that the airline industry was non-existent back then. Acting as a career was nowhere on the horizon or so I thought.
Even after getting my first acting stint with Hip Hip Hurray (1998-2001), I was certain that it was something I was doing just to fill the time till I found my true calling. It was only in 2005 after acting in My Brother Nikhil that I gave in to my DNA and started swimming with the current.
Love for me, contrary to what many people may think, was more traditional on many levels. Most people think of our relationship as quite modern, and us as forward-thinking people, but if you were to carefully observe the details we had quite a traditional start to our love story. Lucy and my sister went to school together. There was definitely a strong attraction from the beginning, I never gave it much thought though since the both of us lived in different countries. We finally started seeing each other only after a long time of correspondence over emails. We were in a long-distance relationship for a while and saw each other once in three months. I think, the only way to stay in this state of love is to have the courage to be true to yourself, and that’s the conviction. Lucy and I are in love. We trust what comes from within us. We may have not planned to conceive our daughter Inaya, but we waited for her arrival with open arms. She taught us many things and most importantly brought us closer together. We actually started living together only after our daughter was born. I love being around Inaya and try to be as hands on as I can. I do fuss over her a lot.
There was some turbulence in the family because of our decision. It stemmed out of the fear of being judged. Addressing those initial fears for others only made us more confident about our decision. When you are going against convention, it requires a strong sense of responsibility for those you love and integrity to take other people along. But then at the end of it, love is love.
To love is when there is no resistance in your being, your sensitivity heightens with a surge of energy, and you trust everything. When you can associate this feeling with a person (a thing or an idea), you are in love with them. I feel the same about Lucy and Inaya. For Inaya, there is a feeling of being responsible. In fact, I am torn between the accountability I feel towards her, to provide for her, which means the need to stay out and work, and wanting to do nothing and spending time with her. Reason helps me balance the two.
It is natural to look back at choices we make in our lives. From a very young age I have always looked at making decisions which were right, and when I say right I mean right according to me. And not by wallowing in the decision-making process but by being proactive and doing what it took. As Ratan Tata puts it: ‘I don’t take right decisions. I take decisions and make them right.’