Interview Hindi

It takes a lot to stand in front of the camera and deliver a dialogue: Himansh Kohli

In an exclusive interview with, Himansh Kohli spoke about his liking for romantic films and Rajesh Khanna. 

Shriram Iyengar

It is very hard to identify a young Himansh Kohli as a Rajesh Khanna fan — The 1970's idol of romance in Hindi cinema is also Kohli's idol. Since making his debut on television in the Channel V series, Humse Hai Liife, Kohli has gone on to become one of the more popular faces among youngsters on the internet. With his debut, Yaariyan (2015), he fulfilled a dream of entering the world of Hindi cinema. Since then, the actor has been slowly building a portfolio with interesting projects. 

In Dil Jo Na Keh Saka, which will be released on 17 November, Kohli again plays a boy in love with his childhood friend. Except, this time, he faces the struggle of finding the courage to express it. 

Speaking to in an exclusive interview, Kohli spoke about the allure of romantic films, their attraction in a changing world, and his love for Rajesh Khanna. 

Following are excerpts from the interview. 

Tell us about Dil Jo Na Keh Saka?

As you can see, the title is very relatable. In today's day and age, a lot of relationships are very hesitant. Even when it comes to expressing what you feel. There is always a risk of losing someone close to you. This problem arrives at every phase of your life. For some it is in school, for others in college, for others it is much later in their age. 

The film is about Jai and Siya, childhood buddies, living together, growing up together. But when it is time for Jai to express his love, he is unable to do so. The best part is that it is a romantic film, so there is a happy ending to it. 

The best part of the film is how he expresses it. It gives answers to a lot of questions that unrequited lovers might have. 

For every actor, the character's relatability to him/herself is important. What is common between yourself and Jai? 

Jai is very ambitious, but he is also a romantic. It is a very fun-loving character. I did not have to do something different for the character, just live my own self. I was enjoying the whole shoot. I would often feel that Jai is me. 

When I was in college, this is exactly who I was. Fun loving, pampered by friends, flirtatious, this character is someone I easily connected with. 

Did you ever struggle like Jai does, speaking to a girl?

Yes, I can't lie that I did not. I have been very upfront during my college days, but I have been lucky in that where I could not express it, my friends would go on and tell them about me. If you don't have friends like that, it can become very difficult. 

The film deals with romance, and the subject has been covered by Indian cinema in every possible angle. What makes Dil Jo Na Keh Saka different? 

If you take a subject like romance, it has been explored in every possible way. From the era of Rajesh Khanna in love triangles, and everything. The reason people connect with the idea of romance till date is that in our daily lives we are trapped in the every day routine, and we fail to express love, or even experience it. So, there is a thrill watching it unfold on screen. To watch the struggle, the joy, and sometimes the sadness is an experience audiences want. 

You have been into romantic films since your debut, and are a Rajesh Khanna fan. Did one lead to the other? 

Its (Rajesh Khanna's fandom) been there since the beginning, and will probably stay there forever. 

It is not a conscious choice (picking romantic roles), but most of the directors feel that I can do better when it comes to romantic characters. They feel I can still do justice to such characters. 

I can now say that romance is, sort of, becoming my forte. I am most comfortable with it, and happily exploring a lot in this genre. With every character, you add a bit to it, and sometimes you take from it. 

That romantic inspiration is none other than Rajesh Khanna Sir. No one else can romance better than him. To deliver such superhit films, he is the legend. 

You started out as an RJ, before venturing into television, and now films. How has the journey been? 

I didn't have to struggle much in the initial phase. Before I did Yaariyan, everything happened so fast. In this city, everyone has to struggle at some point. Nothing is served to you on a platter. I was very clear about being an actor. I knew it would take some time. The characters I wanted to do, I never got. I used to get roles where I had just one line, or passed through the scene. 

I gained a lot of respect for anyone who comes in front of the camera. It takes a lot to stand in front of the camera and deliver the dialogue. People judge it very easily. But when you have to do it yourself, you learn what it is. 

I started out as an intern with Radio Mirchi (Delhi). I was still an intern with them, when I got an offer from Channel V for a television show, Humse Hai Liife. The show got me popular among youngsters. That's when T-Series approached me for Yaariyan. I had to audition a lot for the film, did a lot of workshops. 

To go from a TV mode to film mode, does take a lot of work. I was lucky to work with Divya Khosla Kumar, and get a song like 'Paani Paani'. Since then, I've been known as the 'Paani Paani boy' (laughs).  
The journey is on, and I am enjoying it. I am just learning as I go. 

There is a great deal of pressure on you when some films don't work. How do you cope with it? 

There is. I will be lying, if I said there isn't. We live in a competitive world, a world where we all are connected digitally. It is very easy for anyone to slam you, and they do it (laughs) very often on my page. But if there is not some bitterness, then you won't enjoy the sweetness in life. 

I get back to back comments and praises on my Instagram, but every once in a while there is a sharp criticism that you come across. I look at the positive, encouraging ones then look at the criticism. I do pick the points in their criticism. I am fortunate to be working in the industry right now. 

My true inspiration is Akshay Kumar. I recently read that till he was 30-40 years old, not a lot of people were fond of him or thought positively about his career. But he kept working back to back, and he was learning. 

Any other projects lined up? 

There are two films I am supposed to start. They are both untitled, and will start as soon as I am done with this. I am fortunate enough to have such big banners working with me, and choosing me. I am looking for more, precisely, more romantic films. I connect with them.