By Nikhil Ramsubramaniam, Bollywood Hungama News Network
Kool...Optimistic...Energetic...Lively that's KOEL for you. This vivacious actress has made her presence felt in some off-beat cinema like Everybody Says I'm Fine, Mixed Doubles and It's Breaking News. She has also been seen in some hardcore commercial flicks like Nazar and Life Mein Kabhie Kabhie. Now, Koel would next be seen in the much awaited flick Rock On. What's more, apart from her filmy career, this bubbly actress is eager to see the audience reaction to her talk show called On the Couch with Koel. In a free-wheeling chat with Bollywood Hungama, Koel gets talking about her experience working on Rock On, her all important talk show and even reveals whom she would like to have on her red hot couch.
Koel, you have a big release round the corner (Rock On !!)...so what emotions are you going through at this point of time?
I am very excited for Rock On. I had a complete blast shooting for the film.
Rock On is about one of the rare films in Bollywood which talks about a rock band….tell us something more about the film.
The film is more about following your dreams. It gives out a message saying that 'even if you give up on your dreams, your dreams don't give up on you'. It's not a coming of age film but it makes you wonder what did you do with your life with respect to your dreams, accomplishments etc. Many a times we set milestones which we wish to achieve by a particular age, sometimes we do achieve them, and at times we don't. The film talks about these things in a manner which is very relatable especially for the urban audience.
The promos give an impression of it being an all-guys film, so do the girls have enough to do in the film?
You are absolutely right (laughs)...the girls don't have that much to do in the film but we girls look pretty and had a blast shooting for the film. It was an amazing film to be a part of. Shooting for Rock On was like a holiday for me.
What is your character in the film and whom are you paired opposite?
I play the romantic interest of Purab Kohli. She owns a lifestyle shop and lives life on the edge. She plays a kind of a mentor to the more innocent character of Prachi. We play best friends in the film.
Rock On has a director turned actor (Farhan) and an actor turned director (Abhishek Kapoor). So how has been the experience working with both of them?
Most of us actors somewhere wear a director's hat. We all go to the sets and at times make suggestions. So in that case, it is nothing unique. Farhan definitely donned an actor's hat during this film but that doesn't mean that he switched off the director inside him and didn't give any suggestions. However, by saying this I don't mean that he interfered with Abhishek (Gattu) in any way. Each of us actors was free to make suggestions.
The guys seem like they bonded really well..so was there also some girl bonding happening on the sets?
Absolutely…we girls didn't have much work to do so we had a lot of time to hang out and have fun. Moreover, all of us come from different walks of life and are secure in our own areas. For e.g. I am an offbeat actress, Prachi is a well-known T.V. star; Shahana is relatively a newcomer having done couple of films while Nicollete is a model. No one was stepping on anyone's shoes and we had a complete blast.
Any funny /memorable incidents during the shoot?
There was a time when we girls were sitting in our van waiting for our shot. After a while we decided to just go out and stretch ourselves a bit. When I peeped out of the van, there was a full on rock concert shot happening with Farhan , Arjun, Purab etc performing. I came running back and asked the other girls to come and be part of the crowd. So even though we weren't required for that shot, we joined the crowd who was cheering the band and became groupies.
The music of Rock On is something which hasn't been heard in Hindi films…how do you think the music has evolved?
Rock music has been really popular with pretty much every era of college going crowd. Right from when I was in college till date Rock is huge. And now it's interesting that we have Hindi Rock especially when Hindi music itself is coming of its own. Shankar- Ehsaan-Loy are really fantastic and this time I guess they have outdone themselves.
Which is your favourite track from the film and why?
I like the title track Rock On. In fact I keep listening to the CD of Rock On all the time in my car.
What kind of music do you like listening to?
I am not the biggest rock music fan. I am a big fan of electronic and trance music.
A film on a rock band…do you think it will find a widespread audience or is it targeted at a niche multiplex audience?
It's definitely a film made for the urban sector. Every filmmaker hopes that his film reaches across to a large section of the audience. However, if you look at the film's promos it gives an impression more of an urban centric film which it is.
Farhan has sung six songs in the film and even Prachi has crooned a song...so do you also get to exercise your vocal chords?
No...Thank God for that (laughs)...if I did people would run away before the film even started.
You have been appreciated in quite a few offbeat films like Mixed Doubles, Everybody Says I am Fine etc... However your attempt at commercial cinema like Nazar, Life Mein Kabhi Kabhie hasn't really clicked. What kind of roles are you looking to do at doing at this point in your career?
I am looking for roles that interest me. It may come from an off-beat film or a commercial flick or from Timbucktoo. As long as the role catches my fancy I am game for it.
You are also hosting your own talk show….tell us something about it.
My talk show is called On the couch with Koel. The show airs every Saturday at 9pm IST on Headlines Today. Unlike other talk shows which look out for that exclusive scoop or piece of juicy gossip, this one is a kind of a celebration and applauds the effort of whoever makes it to the couch. It's got a bright red fur couch which is fully flat packed. It travels with me everywhere in a little box. So unlike other shows which are shot in the same studio, my couch and me shoot at different places. For e.g. we shot an episode with Sachin Pilot in his ancestral village with cows and etc...It was great fun.
Whose idea was it to come up with such a show?
Its mine and my director-producer friend's Moses' idea. The reason we came up with this show was because I was fed up with journalists just interviewing celebs without actually listening to what it is that he /she wants to say.
There is no dearth of talk shows on television. In the past we have seen shows like Koffee with Karan and Rendezvous with Simi Garewal. More recently Sajid's Superstars, and The Rakhi Sawant Showz is on -air...What is the USP of your show and how different is it compared to other talk-shows?
This show is a celebration of sorts. Its not one of those shows looking to get that one exclusive scoop from the celebrities. It's not interrogatory in nature. It celebrates the achievement of the various celebs but also tries to find out the real person behind the star. It's like telling them, "Hey we know you are fantastic but we want to know what's going on in your head". The couch is a kind of metaphor for the psycho-analysis. We are kind of going behind the celebrities' personality and finding answers to questions like what are their fears, what do they think of all the time and other such interesting stuff.
Who are some of the guests on your show?
The show will see some popular names from Bollywood but it's not just about only Bollywood celebs. The show will feature any one whom I feel is hot and by hot I don't mean sexy. I've done a show with Amar Singh because he was hot during the UPA elections. I've done a show with Sadguru and am planning to have even Sri Sri Ravi Shankar on my show. Then there is Dr.Vijay Mallya, Ness Wadia, Siddharth Mallya. So basically anyone who I think is young (at heart), hot, hip and happening will be on my couch.
Who has been your most interesting guest so far and why?
I've enjoyed shooting with all of them because each one brings his / her own individuality and with each show even I am learning a lot. I always come out shaken or fascinated after interacting with my guests on this show.
So who do you wish to have on your couch?
Barack Obama, that would be fun though me and my couch will have to travel abroad. Then of course there is Amitabh Bachchan (hopefully I am getting him on my show). I am more interested in talking to people who have not been so exposed. For e.g., I am doing a show with Dr.Vijay Mallya but it would be more fun to talk to his son Siddharth Mallya. I kind of understand the position he is in because at such a young age he is suddenly in the limelight and that too because of his lineage. I am also doing an episode with Aditya Mittal (son of L.N. Mittal). It was a fascinating experience. It's about who I find interesting. I plan to have sport stars like Dhoni or Sania Mirza and what's more I may even have chat show hosts like Karan Johar and Rakhi Sawant as guests on my show. Why not?
Not many know that you are the daughter of media magnate Aroon Porie (founder of India Today). Do you think it has worked to your advantage for you to make a mark in the world of television and films?
It does have its advantage in the sense that it gives me the chance to be choosy, I don't have to say yes to every film or show that comes my way. I don't have to do it for basic survival. This is the first time that I am working for an in-house group. It didn't make any sense for me to come up with a show and sell it to some other channel. But at the same time, I don't think that it defines me as a person. For e.g. I am also doing a show for UTV and Ronnie Screwala is not my father or even godfather (laughs). I would be a fool to say that I don't have an advantage because of my dad.
After Rock On, what else is on your plate?
Till September, I am focusing all my attention on my talk show and after September I will starts a new film project but I can't talk about it now.
The industry is going through a kind of a renaissance with some new, talented and young filmmakers making their presence felt…any of them who have caught your fancy and whom you would love to work with?
There are so many talented directors and writers who are fantastic and kind of appeal to me. For e.g. Sagar Ballary of Bheja Fry is someone I would be working with in the future. There are lot of guys from advertising too who are bubbling with ideas. And even I myself would be becoming a filmmaker very soon. I have so many ideas in my mind. But I believe in focusing on one thing at a time and right now it's my talk show On the Couch with Koel
The tagline of Rock On says 'Live Your Dream'...what is your motto in life?
My motto right now is to have a super successful talk show.
Lastly give us 3 reasons to watch Rock On
It's about living your dream, its got rocking music and it's got me (laughs).
And what about 3 reasons to tune into On the couch with Koel
The couch is red and hot, the guests are hotter and then it has me (laughs).