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The Rediff Interview / Preity Zinta
'I could destroy the whole authenticity of Lakshya by pouting'
June 16, 2004
Lakshya made Preity Zinta sit up and think about issues concerning India.
It made her vote.
It made her realise the power the youth possesses to change the course of future.
In the second part of her interview with Deputy Managing Editor Vaihayasi P Daniel and Senior Correspondent Sukanya Verma, the actress talks about how shooting for Lakshya led her to the path of self-discovery.
How was it being away from the hubbub of Mumbai?
There is a paradox. It is the most beautiful place in the world. If a cameraman goes to Ladakh and does not shoot it well, you can kill him, because anywhere you put the camera it is a frame. It is a perfect frame. Truly. It is stunning but treacherous. It will just kill you.
For me it was fabulous because it was calm and peaceful. Most of the time, we were just tired because we had such early mornings. 3.30 am-4.30 am is not cool to wake up. I can shoot all night, I have no stress, but I am not a morning person.
What did you do in your free time in Leh?
Tourism. I went and saw these old monasteries and went to some shrines, walked about. It was beautiful. It was stunning. As a place, it was breathtaking. Food wasn't a problem. Food is never a problem.
[I guess that is] because of the army there. It's also nice for the army guys to get a boost, for them to feel proud. They are the people who never ask any questions. They just die for us. They die for people they don't know. That's a great thing anywhere in the world. People in anywhere in the world should have sympathy for their armies. They just listen to orders. It's so sad.
I question 20 things. I have to have my own conviction before I do something. But if you are in the army, you just have to say, "Yes sir." That's very tough: to give your life and have that conviction. You feel so strongly for them because they believe in the goodness of the country.
For sure! It was a crazy film [smiles].
I looked at him and gave him a dirty look. I was like who's this trying to be extra-friendly with me.
And then he goes, "PREITY." I am like, "FARHAN?" [laughs]. That was my introduction to the crew. The whole crew looked like pigs. Their beards had grown. Their faces were burnt. That's when I realised, "Oh my God, where have I come?" When you come from outside you see the difference. They were living there.
You have two looks in Lakshya. How important is a look in conveying the change/progression in a character?
This film has two looks because it spans two-and-half years. Most of the women that went to [to cover] the war, 90 percent of them had shorter hair, because it is easier to maintain. We went with the idea of cropping my hair. Also, for a character like Romilla Dutta, or any character, when you are there and war is happening, to have any sense of vanity is terrible. Then you have no integrity as a person.
If 'I-am-a-heroine' came in, it would kill the film altogether. I could single-handedly destroy the whole authenticity of this film by pouting.
So no shapely, painted nails?
No, no, my nails were all bitten off. I like to bite them [laughs]. I was happily biting my nails off because more than the cold, there were blasts happening around. I knew they monitored and filmed. But still, your heart shakes when a gun goes off behind you. It's deafening. The whole earth shakes. These blasts happened and I had to run through them. Whew! I have never run so fast [laughs].
Yeah, I went all over. I don't even remember. When I was born, my parents had just come from Leh or were going to Leh or something. I have been almost everywhere [smiles].
Yeah. My first shot was: I am interviewing the actor Tanvi Azmi. And we are talking about [enacting the scene] the fifth annual theatre festival in India, and what it brings and dadadah. And the last shot was the last shot of the film. I don't want to tell you that [smiles].
No, I have always been interested in the news. Because I am also a person who is interviewed very often. It's very stupid to go there and say, "Uh, I don't know what you're talking about," or, "Really, this one became the prime minister? I didn't know? When?" I can't do that. It's ridiculous.
I have been a newsperson even when I was a kid. My dad would always give me the paper. At that time, I was more interested in the puzzle section or the cartoon strip. But he made it a practice to give me the cartoon bit. I would read it. Then he would pass on the paper and say, "Okay, let's exchange now. You read this and I'll read this."
It became part of my routine to read the paper. Though I wish that news would be 100 percent authentic. There is a lot of censorship that happens. Things get distorted here and there.
People blend better than governments. There is a whole big story behind war -- there are arms, there is this, there is that, there is financial dealings, there is recessions, there is development of countries, countries coming up and countries going down. But by the end of it, there are a few people who get stuck in it who are dying. It is wrong and it should stop I don't think countries, as general should support war.
What's happening with America and Iraq? All the Muslims are getting singled out. Today, [when] a Muslim enters America, there are problems. Today, if a white person, not even American, enters Iraq or those parts of the country, there is a problem. It's so sad. Innocent people are dying in the crossfire. Everyone has a different point of view for it. War should stop.