When Purab Kohli watched The Matrix in theatres in 1999, he did not even want to be an actor but he, like millions of others, was blown away by the concept and themes of the film.
In an interview with The Hindu Weekend, Kohli explains he would not have stepped into The Matrix world at all if it were not for his role as Rajan Rasal in 2008 Netflix series Sense8 , a project by the Wachowskis. He was invited for an audition during promotions in Raipur for a 2014 Hindi film; he received a call that the Wachowskis were in Mumbai and wanted to meet him.
Also read | Get ‘First Day First Show’, our weekly newsletter from the world of cinema, in your inbox . You can subscribe for free here
Naturally, the actor boarded a flight without thinking twice.
He shares with a laugh, “I remember saying, ‘It doesn’t matter if they cast me, as long as I’ve met them, that’s enough’. I’d even said to Lana that if they ever did another The Matrix movie, I’d be so happy to be a person who even walks in the background. Now here we are in 2021, talking about this dream coming true.”
He recalls how his first day on set felt like a reunion with the crew: “The film was well into production and I had a costume trial that day. On the set, there was an action sequence between Jonathan Groff and Keanu Reeves; of course, about 70% of The Matrix Resurrections crew was from Sense8 so we knew each other.”
Respect for Reeves
Kohli plays Zen, an overzealous, man-bun-sporting game developer, who works with programmer-turned-video game designer Thomas Anderson (Keanu Reeves) to map out their new video game. Kohli shares it was fun to break the fourth wall this way. A minor role, Zen, sporting the typical uniform for a game developer, gushes over The Matrix video game and its impact on popular and Internet culture.
But Kohli remembers a quiet charm about Keanu Reeves, who still brings plenty of energy to his role as Neo/Anderson even 22 years later. “There’s a lot to learn in how he holds himself, and keeps himself real. He is who he is, he doesn’t try to be any different. I’d asked him at one point if he’d ever been to India and he shared he shot a film there [ Little Buddha in 1993], but he hadn’t been back since. So I urged him to go back soon because he has a lot of fans in India; and he asked, ‘Really? I have fans in India?’ There’s something so simple and charming about Keanu Reeves which explains why people love him so much.”