First Bollywood had one Chopra – Priyanka, former Miss World. Then there was excitement in 2011 when a second Chopra made her debut – Parineeti, Priyanka’s cousin, who had been a marketing executive at Yash Raj Films.
You may not remember, but Bollywood had seen the debut of 20-something Mannara (who refuses to be more specific about her age) in a film.
That was 2014’s erotic suspense thriller, Zid, made by Anubhav Sinha. Since it made no impact at the box office, it was unmemorable. But she doesn’t lack options.
“I have two films in the pipeline, one again with Anubhav Sinha’s production house,” says Mannara. “I have also worked down south in a Telugu film called Prema Geema Jantha Nai (2014)”
Did her two cousins inspire her to act? The answer is no. “I can’t deny the fact that Priyanka has been a big inspiration, but I was very young when she became Miss India,” she says. “And I had never given any serious thought to showbiz.”
Mannara was born in Ambala, but grew up in Delhi. (Her mother is Priyanka’s bua.) She is a graduate of business administration. But she was always interested in fashion designing and dance and has trained in Kathak.
That is how she entered showbiz. “I was part of a dance troupe and did several events with them,” she says. “Three years ago, my dance troupe asked me to come to Mumbai to choreograph an event. Then I started getting offers for modelling – I have done almost 13 assignments till now.”
The modelling offers were only for commercials. And TV commercials, unlike ramp and print, need models to act.
“I loved living someone else’s life for brief occasions,” says Mannara. Remember the catchy TV jingle, Bajna chahiye gaana for Gaana.com? She was the girl in the ad. She has also done other ads with cousin Priyanka.
Luckily for her, this is a time when attitudes towards models turning actors have changed. Once derided for being wooden, models are now accepted better by the audiences and the industry.
“As a model for a TV commercial, you live the character for a few days, but as an actor for a film, you have to be in the character for six months. It takes hard work.” And so Mannara is not relying on talent (or the family name) alone – she took acting classes in Mumbai and has also done some theatre.
She would like to do all kinds of films, especially biopics and political films. And because she is now the third girl from the Chopra family in Bollywood, she’s willing to go along with a popular suggestion. “People say the three of us should do a Charlie’s Angels kind of film!”
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From HT Brunch, May 3
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