Arguably the only heroine in the world with just one dimple, she’s been on the showbiz scene for nearly a decade. Known for her frank and forthright views, the graduate in psychology has also become a champion of social causes in recent times. One of the most glamorous, well turned-out heroines, she is
much more than arm candy to the business scion Ness Wadia.
The actress of substance, Preity Zinta in conversation with Vajir Singh
What is at the top of your mind?
Right now? I’m very low because (sighs) I went through a huge emotional roller-coaster. I lost my doggy. Since Junior was sick, I had to avoid lot of work but now I’m back.
This year is going to be an exciting, in a week or two there should be an announcement about one of my forthcoming projects. I believe film producers should make the announcement, not me I strongly feel that my whole one big circle is over and a new one is starting this year.
Talk is that you’ve signed three films. And also that you’ve resolved not to do more than two films a year from now on.
Not really. I’m not sure.. it all depends on the project of course. If it grabs me, I’d go for it. I hope to go by my instinct.. (laughs) and wisdom. I don’t need to prove anything to anyone. I’ve completed one circle of my career, the second one’s taking off now.
The last two years of my life have been a bit difficult. I survived the tsunami while I was in Phuket..it’s taken me a while to come out of the trauma. I didn’t do many films. If I was doing two films a year, I reduced it to one. Now I’m in a different state of mind. That’s life, it keeps changing. One phase follows the other.
<b1>Are you contemplating serious cinema?
How serious do you expect me to get after Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna? Look at my performance in any film and compare it with KANK. I had to do 16 retakes for my first shot.. Karan (Johar) was like— “Don’t move your head.. don’t do this.. don’t do that.”
He would expect me to just talk and focus on my eyes. After so many retakes, I thought I’ve forgotten acting but he said I only want you to move when you have a “fight” scene. Otherwise you have too much in your mind to move around.
You were criticised for your look in the movie. Weren’t you?
I wasn’t in India when the film was released. I got great reviews abroad. As long as people go and buy the ticket to watch my film, criticism is welcome.
As for my looks in the film, it suited the character. After I did my introduction scene in KANK, Karan asked me to do it again. He wanted my make-up to be more dramatic.
He said, “I’m not looking for a cute girl-next-door. I want a look which can tell Shah Rukh Khan, “Hey, like it or not but I’m the man of the house.” He thought that crucial scene would fall apart if I kept a sweet little face.
There was a phase in the shooting when I thought what’s happening? But after the movie, I was sure he was right. Filmmakers know, especially Karan.
Were you disappointed by the Jaane-mann flop?
I’m proud of the film and will be proud of it even ten years from now. Everyone has the right to like or dislike it. (Producer) Sajid Nadiadwala is a friend,working with him is a pleasure. And (director) Shirish Kunder tried to use the film’s medium in a different way .
These days you’re majorly into social causes. How come?
Look at the state of the city Every time you come from abroad you realise it has deteriorated. If I want to change the conditions, I can’t do anything from my drawing room, can I? As an actor, I have a certain platform. I don’t want to use it only to ask the audience to go and see my film.
Also I’m 32. When I was much younger.. 17.. I would do anything in the world to go to a night club… anything — jump out of the window.. lie to my parents.. beg my elder brother for money Today I have . , money, there’s a nightclub right outside my house..but I don’t feel like going there. My priorities have changed. With age, one’s gray matter gets prominent.
Even if two people listen to Preity Zinta, my job is done. I don’t get paid to do it. After the rain problem last year in Mumbai, I wasn’t keeping well. My doctor told me it’s not just me but a whole lot of people. Then we went for the let’s clean Mumbai campaign.
I’ve been doing charity for the last seven years. I even worked for HIV awareness and women issues. Please come and see how people sleep on the road outside my house. Every day I drive back to my house my driver and I are so nervous. The minute someone gets hurt, the entire media will be there.
Why can’t the authorities work towards giving the Mumbaikar basic amenities? Forget the streets, so many homeless have no choice but to sleep right in the middle of traffic junctions.
How corrupt can our government get? Our state receives the second highest budget in our country and look at our condition. Look at Delhi, it rocks. Delhi feels like a foreign country. Have you ever been to Delhi?
Two years ago.
Go now. You’ll say what has happened to Delhi.. how they’ve planned it. Mumbai has cooler people..so much more cosmopolitan. But nothing happens here.
<b3>It looks as if you’re going away from the glamorous world?
I haven’t stopped doing movies and never will. But just to prove that I’m a heroine.. I don’t have to be a bimbo. I can be a heroine and I can be socially aware.
Do you know how terrible I feel when I go abroad and my friend says, “Oh you’re from Mumbai. It stinks.” I start explaining that it’s the smell of fish. I don’t feel happy about this.
What’s the latest on your case against a tabloid paper?
It’s going on. The next hearing is on the 21st this month. If you still read nasty news about me in this paper, it’s always a day before the hearing in court.
Okay, tell me.. don’t you ever worry about the short shelf life of a heroine?
Perceptions are altering. With the boom in the multiplex market, it’s the best time for an actress. Earlier, actresses used to get their best roles between the age of 17 and 25. Today the best roles aren’t going to 17 or 22-year-olds. A couple of years ago, no big heroine would play a mature role. Today they are.
<b5>If you ask me, the ’50s were the golden era for actresses. What superb roles, what superb actresses — Madhubala, Meena Kumari, Nutan, Geeta Bali, Waheeda Rehman.
What about the intense conjecture that you could marry Ness Wadia any day.
Is it a rumour?
Yes. Everybody has the right to say what they want to. Nobody can say that with as much authenticity as I can. I know what I’m doing. I’m not getting married this year. If I was then I would have said so. So guys, leave me alone.. marriage is nowhere on the cards. It’s been two years since I’m being asked about my marriage.
Don’t you see yourself as woman who has settled down..with a husband and kids?
I don’t know. There is a right time and place for such life-altering decisions. What’s the hurry? Right now, I’m fine the way I am.. thank you.
Something about Zinta
Born in Shimla, Himachal Pradesh, her father Durganand Zinta was an officer in the Indian Army.
She has two brothers—elder one is Deepankar and the younger one is Manish. Deepankar is a commissioned officer in the Indian Army. Manish is settled in Los Angeles.
She was meant to make her acting debut with Shekhar Kapur's Tara Rum Pum Pum. But the project never took off.
Technically, her first film was Kundan Shah’s Kya Kehna, which was delayed till 2000. Soldier met with the same fate. And that’s how she debuted in Dil Se (1998). Her first shot was with Bobby Deol.