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May 22, 2000


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'I had this illusion that filmstars are like kings and queens'

Preity Zinta She's like champagne -- bubbly and effervescent and a just little astringent. Preity Zinta brings into Hindi films a whiff of normalcy by doing her own thing, unconscious of images and attitudes.

Despite having one of the freshest face in the industry, Preity is more known more for her spunky performances. Originally from Shimla, the actress came down to Bombay when she heard Shekhar Kapur was on the lookout for newcomers for Tara Rum Pum Pum, which is yet to take off.

In the meanwhile, the ad industry beckoned. She was particularly noticed in the Liril and Perk commercials. Result: Mani Rathnam's Dil Se.. and Tips' Soldier fell in her lap. The Zinta girl also came up with a credible performance in Tanuja Chandra's Sangharsh, proving she was more than just a good-looking prop. And Kya Kehna, originally titled Friends, has just been released, with Preity receiving decent reviews.

Fiercely independent, Preity has been quite open about her personal life as she refused to hide her boyfriend, model Marc Robinson, behind closed doors. Her future seems bright, what with films like Har Dil Jo Pyaar Karega (Salman Khan, Rani Mukherjee), Mission Kashmir (Hrithik Roshan), Farz (Sunny Deol), Chori Chori Chupke Chupke (Salman, Rani) and Tere Ishq Mein Pad Gaya Re (Govinda).

For the moment, though, she takes a break and speaks to Lata Khubchandani about her life and career.

Let's begin with your career. Are you satisfied with the kind of films you have on hand?

Kya Kehna I'm very satisfied with the kind of films I've signed -- I've got Dil Chahta Hai with Aamir Khan, Mission Kashmir with Hrithik Roshan, Yeh Raaste Hain Pyaar Ke with Madhuri and Ajay Devgan. Then there are Chori Chori Chupke Chupke, Har Dil Jo Pyaar Karega and Farz, which will release shortly. And, of course, Kya Kehna, which released on Friday. I consider these quality films because my roles in them are diverse.

Basically, I see myself as a representative of the 21st century. I'm not going to do films which project women as relegated to the kitchen or as objects of desire. Our films are the archival material which portray what this century is about and, so, I want to do progressive films..

Everyone talking of Hrithik these days. What is it like to work with him?

Everyone's been asking me about Hrithik and how it is to work with him. I started doing Mission Kashmir before he became the Hrithik Roshan. He's a great guy and so very hardworking that I think, if anyone deserves this success, he does.

Who are the other film-makers you would like to work with?

I'd like to work with Sanjay Leela Bhansali, Yash Chopra, Aditya Chopra and Rajkumar Santoshi.

Now that you are in the profession, how would you define acting?

With Akshay Kumar in Sangharsh I think acting is all about being perceptive, about picking from real life and investing into your characters. Besides the director, I think it's important that you are convinced about your character. You have to know what to do with it. Every director teaches you something. Like, in Sangharsh, I actually felt depressed throughout the making of the film. While, in Soldier, I had a blast. Shooting for it was fun.

As an actress, do you manage to get your own way?

On my own, I try to see there's consistency to my character. I try to stick by this even if I have to fight with my directors, I put forward my suggestions and, mostly, they accept what I say. The way I see it is: Let me make the most of it while I'm here.

What was the defining moment in your life?

I went to boarding school in Simla because my father was in the army. I was quite a tomboy, good in studies but always outdoors. Playing basketball and getting into scrapes was what I enjoyed the most. My father would take me to the golf course -- he was trying to teach me the game, but I was awful at it. Life was pretty normal till I turned 13 and my father died in a car accident. My mother was with him at the time. She was severely hurt and was bedridden for two years. I think that was the first turning point in my life.

With Shah Rukh Khan in Dil Se.. Everything changed. I didn't really go through the stage where you jump out of the window and go partying. A great deal of maturity came into my life. I was forced to grow up. My brothers are one year older and one year younger than me and I remember they'd be crying all the time.

But I had my fun time too, even if it came a little late. I started partying and having crushes from the time I was 17. But today, when I look back at those boys, I wonder how I could ever have liked them.

How did you get into modelling?

My friends used to keep telling me that I should model and I got offers very easily. My first ad was Perk, then came Liril. Both did very well. Then came Dil Se.. with Mani Rathnam.

Wasn't that a rather unusual launch for a newcomer?

It was, particularly in the light of the forthright character I played. But it worked for me and I, on my part, identified completely with the girl who asks Shah Rukh Khan, "Are you a virgin?" Then came Soldier with Bobby Deol. That was really commercial and that worked too. Then I got Tanuja Chandra's Sangharsh, which was different. It didn't do too well, but it worked for me in that I got to do something different early in my career instead of doing everything commercial first and then trying out new things.

I've signed a film with Aamir, that is to be produced by newcomer Farhan Akhtar. He is Honey Irani and Javed Akhtar's son. I've met Aamir only briefly, but I've watched his films and consider him a fine actor. Actually, this film is very young. It is more my film than anyone else's really. I'm looking forward to it.

With Bobby Deol in Soldier Who are the actors you are most comfortable with?

I've know Bobby and Chandrachud before I came into films, so it's very comfortable working with them. I am an easy person and get along with everyone unless there is something majorly wrong with somebody.

What do you like to do when you are not working?

After work, I like to have my time to myself and don't like fans cascading over me wherever I go. I love to party and do so all the time. I think this is the right age for me to have fun. Why should I wait till I'm 40? I enjoy being independent and have just bought myself a house. That makes me feel great. Stardom is okay, but I'm a very private person otherwise.

Is there any myth that has been shattered after you joined films?

Earlier, I had this illusion that filmstars are like kings and queens, but that was shattered soon enough. The conditions we work in are anything but royal. But I do see acting as a well-paid job, involving huge amounts of money which is not mine so I have to deliver under any circumstance. But that's okay, you win some and you lose some!

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