Pria Kataria Puri is the dress designer for Priyanka Chopra's next Zanzeer.
Pria calls herself filmy and says, "You can say, fully filmy. I love Hindi films and I love the way the heroines dress up, though very often I've felt that they don't dress in character. But I can't sleep without watching a Bollywood film every night."
So what has kept this fully-filmy designer away from Bollywood so far?
"I insisted on a bound script which I never got. Zanjeer is the first film I've said yes to. One of the reasons is the director Apoorva Lakhia who is a friend. The other reason is Priyanka Chopra who according to me is the most international actress from Bollywood. She can carry off any look. She understands clothes. And she knows so much about fabric! I was amazed by her knowledge and her ability to put forward her thoughts on how her character must dress. We were instantly on the same page when we met."
Pria loved director Apu's brief on Priyanka's character.
"He was the first director who gave me a hard-bound script. Earlier I refused offers because I didn't get a script. For me it's very important to know the character's graph to be able to dress her properly. Because of the script, I got to know Priyanka's character Mala thoroughly before I decided on her look."
When Pria and Priyanka met, there was an instant rapport.
"She had flown in from the US and I had flown in from Kuwait the same morning. So she was far more jetlagged than I was. And yet she was all there. She is a very focused and hard-working actress. And she understands clothes and colours."
Interestingly, the designer and Priyanka's character share a similar background. "Like Priyanka's Mala in Zanjeer, I am an NRI working out of a foreign country. So I instinctively understand the clothes that Priyanka should wear. I often see actresses in our clothes looking wow. But they don't seem to be dressed in character."
Explaining the two distinct looks that Priyanka Chopra would sport, Pria says, "In the first-half of Zanjeer when she's abroad Priyanka would be dressed as a woman entrepreneur should be dressed. You see in today's times a working-woman from India doesn't stand out at the airport. She looks like any chic well-dressed woman from any part of the world. Later when Priyanka's character comes to India she gets more colourful in her sartorial expression. You would notice that even when an Indian girl in India dresses in Western clothes there is a dash of Indianness in her clothes. She may wear shorts, but it would be orange in colour. Priyanka's clothes would reflect her changed geopolitical mindset."
Pria sees a great challenge ahead. "I've never done a Bollywood film before. But I know I've chosen the right project to start with. Priyanka is the coolest most cosmopolitan actress in Bollywood today."
Priya also flew into Hyderabad to be present when Priyanka started shooting for
. "I am not leaving anything to chance, or to my assistants. I like to choose all the fabrics colours and designs personally," says Pria.