Utpal Borpujari

May 26, 2009

For Preity, it’s all about interesting roles now

By Utpal Borpujari

The Genie did not come her way after all, but Preity Zinta is not one to mull on what could have been. Nominated for the Genie Award, Canada’s equivalent to the Oscars, for Deepa Mehta’s “Heaven on Earth”, Zinta lost out in the final reckoning, but now she is egging on her team Kings XI Punjab at the IPL in South Africa and readying herself up for her next few releases.

But proud she is of herself in “Heaven on Earth”, aka “Videsh”. “Probably out of 34 films I have done, in 31 I have played the NRI kind of roles, the glam kind. So, it was really nice to do an earthy role in this film. The only other earthy role I have played is in Heroes, and to some extent in Veer Zara though it had a lot of trappings of wealth, which changes the tone of earthiness,” she says.

The film gave her a chance to display her acting talent in more ways than one, as she did quite a bit of study to understand the nuances of her character of a Punjabi girl married to an NRI in Canada and thus thrown into completely alien circumstances. “We always tend to believe that when you immigrate to a foreign country life’s going to be better. Well, in reality, it isn’t. I worked very hard in this film. It was one of my most difficult films. I unlearnt everything that I had learned before in my career as an actor, and just went for it with 100 per cent sincerity, because there are so many women this film is inspired by,” she says.

As Preity says, “I really wanted to do justice to it. I knew I had the opportunity to do something really something different by working with Deepa. I had been saying no to a lot of films, because somewhere I was feeling there was no growth for me anymore. Now if I do a commercial potboiler, I will feel it is new to me, but at that point in time, I was doing one after another. I just felt I need to do something that challenges me. So when Deepa came to me with the script, I said I am not going to leave it, and was not going to leave any stone unturned because if I miss this, then I am the biggest fool.”

Mehta gave her Irish author Roddy Doyle’s “The Woman Who Walked Into Doors” that deals with victims of domestic violence, and also made her me watch a documentary called “Let’s Talk About It” on the same subject. Preity also met some women who suffered such violence.

It is the experience of meeting these women and learning about them that drove her on during the shooting. “At one point of time during the shooting, I was really depressed, I just wanted to come back home. We were shooting in minus 20 degrees, I was to get up at 4:30 every morning. I was not getting the luxuries that I am used to as a star, and started missing home. And then I started thinking, that me as Preity the actress or Preity the star, I want my own things, and because I am not getting them I am missing home. What about all those girls who go to Canada to live, get abused and cannot even go back? I think that changed my perspective and it somehow worked for me in this film,” she says with empathy.

Preity is also looking forward to the release of “Har Pal”, acclaimed Assamese director Jahnu Barua’s latest Hindi film. As she puts it, “Har Pal is a very special film. After a long time I have seen a film that has its own space. It’s very script-centred, with lovely performances. It was a dream to work with Dharam-ji (Dharmendra), and I had never got a chance to work with him.” And she adds to effect, “Everyone thinks Har Pal will be a serious kind of movie because of Jahnu-da is the director, but it’s completely commercial in treatment.”

Preity says she has always been looking to do different kind of roles – “though I would not like to sound like I am doing something different as I am signing some basic commercial potboilers soon”, she quips with a glint of impishness in her eyes. “Hopefully, god will be kind and I will keep getting opportunities once in a while to do films like Heaven on Earth, which will give me a lot of respect,” she says.

But more than that, she is also aware of the impact such films can have on people. “It will make a difference, a huge difference. If just by doing this film I can help a lot of people by bringing in a lot of awareness about the issue of domestic violence, I will be more than happy,” she says.

The bubbly actress is now at a stage in her career when she can pick and choose her roles. “If you look at my career, I am probably one actress who has done the maximum number of different roles within commercial cinema. So, I would do always do films that attract me, though I cannot tell you what type. Whatever I find at that time interesting, like now after Videsh, there are things that are completely different to it, and some things that are similar to what I have done in the past,” she says. Among them is “Main Aur Mrs Khanna”, which she is quite excited about.

(Published in Deccan Herald, www.deccanherald.com, www.deccanheraldepaper.com, 17-05-2009)


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