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'It's nice that Abhay Deol and I are together. We are happy, content'

Last updated on: January 29, 2014 18:36 IST

'It's nice that Abhay Deol and I are together. We are happy, content'

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Patcy N in Mumbai

Actress Preeti Desai talks about her journey from England to Bollywood, and her big release this Friday, One By Two.

Preeti Desai is the first woman of Indian origin to win the Miss Great Britain title (2006).

That led her to Bollywood and her first film, One By Two, produced by her boyfriend Abhay Deol and directed by Devika Bhagat.

Preeti is excited about her first big film role and tells Patcy N about her journey from England to Bollywood

Early years

I was born and brought up in Great Britain where my parents have a firework company; they do firework displays. I have a sister, Anjlee who is a singer.

I worked as a beauty therapist in England. My mom and my friend insisted I participate in a beauty pageant. I won Miss Great Britain in 2006. That changed everything for me.

When I came here, I realised that it was a big thing for a girl of Indian origin to win a British beauty pageant. I started getting offers for films in India.

I hadn’t thought about doing films. I didn’t know whether I could act. I came to India to do this as an adventure.

I came to Mumbai in 2008. I enrolled in Anupam Kher’s acting workshop for three months. I started doing some modelling to support myself.

I loved modelling and travelled the whole world. I did it to pay the bills, but it was becoming fun, so I got sidetracked and got busy with modelling.

I have worked all my life. I started working when I was 14. I was taught that if you want nice things and want to make something of yourself you have to work.

I did the newspaper round, and on weekends I worked when I was in school. Through college I was a waitress.

In college, I did a three-year beauty course. After I finished I got a job to manage a salon straight away.

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Image: Preeti Desai


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'After Shor, I realised I loved acting'

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Trip to India and modelling

When I told my parents that I want to go to India to act, they bet each other that I wouldn’t last long. They were both excited that I wanted to go to India, for them it is like going to their motherland.

When I was modelling I got this offer for Shor in the City (2011). I did not want to take it because I thought I have to work on my Hindi and I was not ready.

But the role was in English as I had to act opposite an American actor (Senthil Ramamurthy). So I decided to work in the film.

After Shor, I realised I loved acting. I wanted people to take me seriously so I quit modelling.


Image: Preeti Desai

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'I met Abhay at the success party of Dev D'

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Actor Prepares

I didn’t know much about the industry and wanted to learn what kind of work was out there. I took time out to read scripts, go on the sets.

I met Abhay at the success party of Dev D (2009).

We started dating, and I started going with him on the sets. That was a plus point. Otherwise, honestly, I wouldn’t have got access to the sets.

Watching the whole process of filmmaking I learnt a lot.


Image: Preeti Desai

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'I know people will say I got One By Two because it is Abhay's production'

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Big Break

I know people are obviously going to say I got One By Two because it is Abhay’s production. But I knew Devika Bhagat, the director of the film, from before. We were friends and had shared our dreams and hoped to work together some day.

Devika had told Abhay that she wanted to cast me for the lead role. In fact, initially, Abhay was not acting in the film but was just the producer.

But in the process of writing the script with Devika, he liked the story so much that he came on board as an actor.


Image: Preeti Desai


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'The first day I had to shoot with Abhay I was nervous'

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Working with Abhay

I look up to Abhay and respect him as an actor.

I did not know anything; I got to learn a lot from him. We kept things professional on the sets from day one.

The first day I had to shoot with him I was nervous. But that was just for a few seconds. We had worked on my character Samara Patel so much that I knew her inside out.

Once Abhay started shooting for the film, he concentrated on the acting and his (business) partner Sanjay Kapoor took over the producer’s responsibility.

It was so easy to work with Devika since there was a comfort level. Devika knows what she wants. The production process went so smoothly.


Image: Preeti Desai and Abhay Deol in One By Two


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'We liked each other and started dating for a year and later moved in together'

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Relationship with Abhay

Abhay and I had the same manager before we started dating. I was modelling, and my manager wanted me to do films and go for film events. I was not very good at networking.

Before going to the party, I watched Dev D. It was good.

I met Abhay there, and we became friends, we liked each other and started dating for a year and later moved in together. (Preeti has lived with Abhay in his Juhu house since 2010).

My parents are okay with me staying with Abhay because I am independent, I make my own money. But, yes, my mom keeps telling me that I should get married. She wants to have grandchildren!

Marriage will happen when I am ready to settle down and want kids. I will marry mostly for my kids, so that they are socially acceptable.

Having kids is a full time job. I want to be hands-on with that, and I am not ready for that now. I have so much to achieve. I am not even thinking of marriage right now.

Right now, it is nice we are together, we are happy, we are content, we don’t have to prove to people and sign something to be together.

I am not jealous of Abhay’s female fans. I love it. I would probably get upset if he wasn’t getting attention!

I want to tell all Abhay’s female fans ‘please don’t hate me, he is yours, you can keep him.’


Image: Preeti Desai and Abhay Deol
Photographs: Pradeep Bandekar

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'I saw Salman Khan's Maine Pyar Kiya one hundred times'

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Language trouble

I had to work hard on my Hindi. I had a good Hindi teacher, Veena Mehta. My problem was no one spoke to me in Hindi, even in Mumbai. Abhay doesn’t speak Hindi with me at all.

My first language is Gujarati. I am fluent in that. My mom speaks only Gujarati at home. I learnt English only when I went to school and my mom learnt English along with me.

Back home we grew up watching Hindi films every night. I grew up in a white community, no Indians at all. I had English friends so later I started watching international stuff, and didn’t watch Hindi movies for a long time.

When I was a kid, I saw Salman Khan’s Maine Pyar Kiya one hundred times. It was my favourite film.


Image: Preeti Desai


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