On October 9, Preity Zinta, five-and-a-half kilos lighter, walked the ramp for Salman Khan’s Being Human charity. And was flooded with compliments following her announcement that after a three-year sabbatical, she was ready to return to the movies.
The following day, the Board of Control of Cricket in India (BCCI) terminated the license of two founder teams of the Indian Premier League (IPL) — the Rajasthan Royals and Kings XI Punjab — on grounds that the ownership structure of both had changed since they signed the bid document.
Zinta recalls a friend asking her how she was feeling. "How would you feel if your integrity was being questioned and your reputation was at stake?" she asks. Earlier, she’d sued a magazine for defamation. This time, along with co-owners Ness Wadia, Mohit Burman and Jaran Paul, she moved the High Court against BCCI. "I have faith in the judiciary and in my own destiny. I have not done anything to be ashamed of and while lies have speed, truth has stamina," says the actor, thanking the newly constituted Fans of Kings XI Punjab for their support.
It rankles that some still believe that she was merely the ‘face’ of the team. She argues that she was part of the primary teams that, after winning the bid in January 24, got the first season of the IPL rolling in two months and 20 days, and then moved the League to South Africa the next year. Pointing out that she invested her own money, Zinta says, "No one has ever paid for anything I’ve bought, even if it’s the diamond ring I wear. My father instilled in me a sense of my own identity and independence. May be his words wouldn’t have struck so deep had he still been alive," she muses.
It was her father’s dream to open a sports school in North India to offer opportunities to under-privileged children. Through the IPL, she was living that dream even though she knew little about cricket apart from Sachin Tendulkar. She reasons that the Kings Cup gave breaks to young players from Jammu & Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Punjab and Haryana.
Unfortunately, her boys failed to live up to the hype through three seasons. Buzz was that Yuvraj Singh, upset at being replaced by Kumar Sangakkara in season three, was ready to move to Mumbai Indians. “He never told me he was unhappy,” she retorts. “Yuvi is a talented player and only needs a couple of good performance to get back into the team.”
On her part, even if Kings XI Punjab get back into the IPL fold, Zinta’s ready to hand over the day-to-day functioning to professional managers and focus on her movie career again. There was talk that she had been approached for Yash Chopra’s next, opposite Shah Rukh Khan. “There was also talk that I was doing Mere Brother Ke Dulhan. But I didn’t conform or make any annoucements. I’m talking to people, reading scripts. These things take time.”
The recent controversy has set her back by a month. “But,” she laughs, “I’ll be back in the theatres in 2011 even if I have to stand in front of the screen with a torch shining on my face and shout, ‘Mujhe dekho, main yahaan hoon!’(look at me, I’m here.)”