Jack of all Trades - Karanvir Bohra

Home  Tinsel Personality  Interviews Jack of all Trades - Karanvir Bohra

I am supposed to meet Karanvir Bohra at his favourite café but I am running late, all thanks to Mumbai traffic. When I finally walk into the café, I spot him sitting at the table by the window and he is signing an autograph for a young girl. As I walk towards him, my mind conjures up images of ‘Viraj Dobriyal’ – the horrible psychopath husband who did everything possible to make his wife’s life a living hell! Karanvir looks up at me, smiles and *poof* just like that, the mental images of ‘Viraj’ disappear into thin air. Karanvir has a charmingly innocent smile that brings a twinkle of mischief in his eyes and I suppose he must have used that a lot to get out of trouble when he was a kid! Born into a family of producers and film-makers, it was only a matter of time before Karanvir carved a niche for himself in the industry. He made his debut as the romantic ‘Kabir’ in ‘Just Mohabbat’ and since then he has focused on character driven roles. Saubhagyavati Bhava catapulted Karanvir into a different league altogether, and his portrayal of the obsessive, possessive and psychotic ‘Viraj Dobriyal’ established him as a formidable presence.  “When I took up Saubhagyavati, I knew I was taking a huge risk”, he admits candidly, but the risk paid off and Karanvir not only won many awards but ensured that he would be always be remembered as the ‘baddest’ boy of Indian television! On that note, I order my first cup of coffee, he gets started on his third cup and we settle in for an interesting conversation. Tinsel Gupshup uncovers Karanvir Bohra - Jack of all Trades.



TG: Trained dancer, actor and designer…tell us a bit about these transitions or phases in your life?

KB: Oh and let’s add ‘Producer’ to that list! I have just produced my first Punjabi film. Well, production runs in the family so it was inevitable for me to turn into a producer. Ok, let’s talk about acting first. You know when I was in college I used to hate anything to do with acting. So when people would tell me that they wanted to become an actor, I used to find it so stupid. My immediate reaction would be – ‘what an idiot! You have nothing better to do!’ I had no inclination to go and watch a play because I considered it a complete waste of my time! I was a part of the dramatics society in my college and they organized a play called ‘All the Best’ so as a member of the society, I decided to go and watch the play. That was the first play I had ever watched and it just blew me away! That experience changed my entire outlook towards the whole process of acting and I started playing a more active role in our dramatics club etc. One thing led to another and I assisted Mr. B.P. Singh on CID, Mr. Singh introduced to Mr. Satyadev Dubey and I joined his theatre group where I had the amazing opportunity to work with people like Nadira Babbar, Dalip Tahil, Alyque Padamsee etc. I produced my first play called ‘Plain Crazy About Love’ and that had Shruti Seth and my wife in it. So that is how acting happened.  Just before the play, I acted in Sharaarat and immediately after the play I got ‘Kasauti’ so things just kept falling into place for me.


TG: You had the opportunity to assist the legendary director – Mr. B.P. Singh. What was that like?

KB: Yes, I assisted Mr. B.P. Singh on CID for one year. The first time I met Mr. Singh in his office, it was a Saturday and I had gone for the meeting with a stubble, very casually dressed. We spoke for a bit and he asked me to come back to his shoot on Monday. So come Monday, I decided to shave, tuck in my shirt and go in as a good boy and all. Mr. Singh walked in, glanced in my direction and went about his direction. I figured that he probably just wanted me to observe and learn so I went and stood close to the camera. After a few hours, he called me and he was like – ‘who are you and what are you doing here?’ So I reminded him that I had met him in his office on Saturday. All that while he had thought that I was a struggling actor hanging around his set to get a role! Mr. Singh became my mentor and I learned so much from him. I was not just an assistant director…I mean I was completely involved in the show and I would handle so many different facets on the shoot. He would shoot in Andheri East or Madh Island and both locations were quite far from where I used to live. So I would wake up really early, take the train to get to work and sometimes when I would miss my morning train, I would actually sleep at the station till the next train arrived. That one year, I gave my life to the show and it was seriously the most fun I have ever had! In fact, when I told Mr. Singh that I wanted to leave so I could pursue acting, he was really reluctant to let me go. He kept telling me that I had the potential to become a good director but I had my mind set on acting. So ultimately he gave in and gave me a huge farewell party!




TG: Not a lot of people know that you have learned Kathak for 3 years…

KB: Yes! My guruji is Pandit Veeru Krishnan and I have learned Kathak for three years. Back in college, I learned Ballroom and the Waltz from Kunaal Roy Kapoor’s mother. At that time, it was a cool thing to know how to Waltz especially if you went for a party with a date! I have also learned Contemporary, Ballet and Jazz under Terence Lewis and Tap dance from Oscar. I did two dance reality shows – Nach Baliye and Kabhi Aar Kabhi Paar. After Kasauti, I started learning Kathak and before I even realized…I had been learning for three years! So between Kasauti and Saubhagyavati Bhava, for three years, I was living, breathing and learning Kathak. Sounds really strange right? I mean, I was auditioning for roles and meeting people but at the same time, I did not want to settle for a romantic lead again. I wanted to sink my teeth into a challenging and different role. Even as I tell you this, I cannot believe that for three years, Monday to Saturday…I dedicated my life to Kathak. I did not look at it as a time pass or an investment of any sort…just kept dancing and learning.



TG: Tell us a bit about the designer in you?

KB: Oh, I have to give my mom full credit for that. She used to love dressing me up when I was a kid. Most of my childhood pictures, I am wearing Bell bottoms, cool shirts, trendy shoes and my mom would put it all together. When I was in college, I won titles like ‘Mr. Radical’ because I would dress outrageously but that has always been my style. I believe that you need to create your own style and for me, style means out of the box! When I did ‘Just Mohabbat’, I would wear my own clothes and now I can tell my production house that I will either make my own clothes or buy my wardrobe and they will pay for it. I am a designer and I know how to put things together. I wonder why the word ‘designer’ is always restricted to clothes or shoes? Designing is all about putting the right things together and I have always been good at that. When I act, I am putting my character together, as a producer I am putting the right team together.



TG: Seems like you have enjoyed each and every phase of your career

KB: Absolutely. I am a seeker. I could have had a very comfortable life because of my family and I could have been a spoilt brat but I chose a different route because I am a seeker. Earlier on you asked me about all the different phases in my career…those phases happened because I was always striving for more. I am never satisfied and I will always be hungry for more. I have seen success but I don’t get complacent about it. It’s not that I get bored, rather, I have enjoyed each and every second of the journey so far and I like to push myself. Three years between ‘Kasauti’ and ‘Viraj’, I could have taken a long break and enjoyed myself. Instead I decided to learn Kathak and gave it my all! That is also the Virgo in me! I get really angry when people disrespect an art. For example, people take these 3 month crash courses in acting and think that they have learnt everything about it…they are so blasé about the art. Chaplin said that to act naturally you need to learn how to act and then unlearn it! I have been in this profession for so many years and I feel that I am at the ‘unlearning’ stage right now.


TG: What do you mean by ‘learn and unlearn’ acting?

KB: Ok…I’ll show you. (Karanvir picks up his phone, points the camera at me and turns it on. My immediate reaction is to look away). See? You are aware of the camera and that makes you conscious in front of it. As soon as the camera comes on you shy away from it. Basically, you should be at a point where you are not even aware that you are facing a camera or an audience. Similarly when you are given a dialogue…the lines should not be you, you should be the line. So you learn how to act and through your own personal experiences you need to forget what you have learned and develop your own style. You have to put your own personal stamp on the art and no school can teach you that. That personal stamp will only come at a point when you are completely comfortable, aware of your strengths and gained enough experience.



TG: Just Mohabbat, Kyunki Saas, Sharaarat, Kusum, Kasauti…you have been a part of some monumental shows. Which one of these shows is closest to your heart and why?

KB: What?? You forgot Saubhagyavati??


TG: No! I’ll come to that in a minute


KB: (Laughs) I have to admit that all these shows have been monumental and I have gained so much from each show but Saubhagyavati is closest to my heart! With Saubhagyavati, I started understanding the art and then the ‘unlearning’ process began for me. All the other shows have revolved around different characters but Saubhagyavati was about Viraj! I am sure that I made my presence felt with all the characters that I have portrayed but Viraj was another level. I was practically living and breathing the character. So this show will always be very close to my heart. If I had to pick one other show it will have to be Sharaarat. I shared such an amazing bond with all my co-actors and director of that show. We used to have so much fun and I felt like I was back in college with that gang. Great learning experience and great fun!



TG: Kabir, Tushar, Nakul, Prem, Dhruv…have we seen glimpses of Karanvir in each character? In terms of style, the way you speak, some signature move…do you tend to leave a little piece of you in your characters?

KB: Oh absolutely! If you see me in ‘Just Mohabbat’ my character was very raw and at that point I had a very happy-go-lucky frame of mind in life. So you can see glimpses of that in my character. In Sharaarat I played the boy next door and that was the exact phase I was going through because I had just passed out of school and joined college. When I got Kasauti, I had graduated from college so I was a bit more responsible and I wanted to start earning my own money. So my character in Kasauti has a bit of an attitude and in real life I was the same because I was more aware of my talent. If you see Viraj…he is so confident and he has that presence. I feel that I am in the exact phase right now.



TG: So what has it been like shifting gears and playing the bad guy instead of the hero?

KB: I love the fact that Saubhagyavati has been male oriented. You have the protagonist and an antagonist and this show was about the antagonist. SRK might have been the bad guy in Baazigar but the bottom-line was that he was the hero of the film! Complex characters have always been my cup of tea so Viraj was just what I was waiting for. I was definitely a bit apprehensive when I heard what Viraj’s character was all about and I knew that there was a possibility that I might lose my fan following. But I also knew that I had to take this chance because this was an opportunity of a lifetime…you don’t get roles like this every day. With God’s grace, the response to Viraj was phenomenal and everyone loved the edge of the show! Kids, teens, women, men, uncles, aunties…they just loved the show. I would get confronted a lot, as in people wanted to know what the hell Viraj thought he was doing but at the same time I would get complimented for doing a great job as an actor!




TG: In Jhalak Dikhhla Jaa Season 5, you danced with Isha and Salman. Did you feel any pressure?

KB: (Laughs) Oh man! I have to tell you that all my training in Kathak definitely helped me keep up with them! I mean these guys are monsters and they rehearse for 15-16 hours a day plus they had been getting 30 on 30’s for all their performances so the pressure on me was unbelievable! The channel gave me two options – I could come in as a wild card contestant or I could dance with Isha and Salman. I decided to try my luck with Isha and Salman because I did not want to compete with them but I wanted to see if I could keep up with them! I was thinking that if they lose their 30 then I would be responsible but if they got that 30 then I would have been a major part of it. When I walked in for rehearsals, they had no idea what kind of a dancer I was but it was a fantastic experience. Everything was done by Salman – he chose the song, choreographed the dance and all. On the day of the performance, I was running a fever of 103 and just before we went on stage, I apologized to Isha and Salman because I was convinced that they would lose the 30 because of me. They were really cool about it and told me to forget everything and just give it my best shot and that is exactly what I did!



TG: Who has been the driving force in your life?

KB: There have been four driving forces in my life – my mom, my sister, my wife and on a professional level…Ekta. So women have played a key role in my life. Funny thing is that the person who offered me Viraj’s role in Saubhagyavati is a woman! So I have realized that I cannot mess with women!!


Photo credit: Karanvir Bohra

©Tinsel Gupshup

Jul 11, 2013
i love his style,attitude personallity kvb u are fantstic actor

Jul 08, 2013
love u karanvir

Devendra Meghwal
Jul 08, 2013
Karanvir sir really amazing hai....aap ke experience ko jaan kar bahut hi achcha laga. u r really great sir... and thnx to tinsel gupshup humare bich ye conversation pahuchane ke liye. sir ki ye baato se me bahut hi inspired hu :) once again thnx to Tinsel gupshup and karanvir sir ur really great aur me aap ki bahut hi #respect karta hu. :)

Leave a Comment

                          You have 200 characters remaining.