Ever since rumours of Preity Zinta's liaison with her Dil Chahta Hai costar, Aamir Khan, scorched the air, the actress has kept a low profile. With her latest film, Anil Sharma's The Hero ready for release, she finally comes out in the open. "I love talking to the media. But I am tired of saying I am not married to Aamir Khan. Let me repeat and let everyone listen: I am not married to Aamir Khan," she announces.
"Besides," she adds, "I did not have many releases last year. This year, I have many films. You know... when it rains, it pours."
Rakesh Roshan's Koi Mil Gaya, Nikhil Advani's Kal Ho Na Ho and Honey Irani's Armaan are all scheduled for release. Asked about her roles in these films, she says, "All have different roles. There is no similarity between any of them."
Talking about The Hero, Preity says, "I play a village lass. The best part is that I went to the mountain tops during the shooting, which I had never done in my life. The film, which is about cross-border terrorism, is completely paisa vasool [worth the money for the ticket]. Better go and watch it."
The Hero, to be released on April 11, is the story of a spy who tackles cross-border terrorism. Costarring Sunny Deol, Priyanka Chopra, Amrish Puri and Kabir Bedi, it is director Anil Sharma's first release after his blockbuster, Gadar -- Ek Prem Katha, in 2001.
The Hero has been shot in Canada and Switzerland. The climax was shot at the Jungfrau at 16 degrees Celsius.
The Hero, at Rs 530 million, is more expensive than Sanjay Leela Bhansali's Rs 500 million Devdas. Five helicopters and wrestlers were flown in from the US to Switzerland for the action sequences.
"I liked doing this film; as a child, I was always interested in the CIA, the KGB and the Mossad. Ask me anything about spy thrillers and I will answer you. I am very happy to be associated with this spy thriller; it has a terrific script," says Preity.
Playing the role was not difficult for her, she says, "I could associate with the character. I come from Himachal Pradesh and I know about life there. I just had to relearn some more details with the help of my director."
She says her character in The Hero is very different from her character in Vidhu Vinod Chopra's Mission Kashmir. "The role in Mission Kashmir was of a very modern girl. I played a television journalist who knew everything that was happening in the world. But, in this film, Reshma [her character] is a simple village girl from Bakrawal."
Gadar -- Ek Prem Katha had faced much controversy due to its anti-Pakistan stance. Does Sharma expect the same for The Hero? "The media caused the controversy, " says Sharma. Gadar was accepted by public. I am not a politician, but I know that cross-border terrorism is a reality. I oppose it wholeheartedly and I sincerely feel that those who support cross-border terrorism should be thrown out of India."
Asked to comment on the film's music, he says, "I told [the late] lyricist Anand Bakshiji that my film's music never did well before. I wanted him to pen some hit songs for me. He obliged and gave me hit songs for Gadar. For this film, [music director] Uttam Singh and I waited six months for Anandji to recover. I am grateful that he penned some songs for The Hero before his death."
Sharma was not disappointed when Gadar missed out an Oscar nomination and Lagaan, which released on the same day as Gadar, was selected. "I never make films for awards," he says. "I do not want to get into a debate between Lagaan and Gadar. Lagaan was a nice film, but the thought was superficial. Had the director [Ashutosh Gowariker] made the film closer to the Indian audience, it would have fared better."