Even while her home in Mumbai is being rebuilt, Preity Zinta's dream to build a house in her hometown Shimla is about to be realised.
"I always wanted a family home in my hometown Shimla. I'm now going to build a house there. The older one is in a locality that's so crowded I don't recognise it any more. Earlier, it was just our house and lots of trees," said Preity.
The actress has an ancestral plot that she has been planning to use to build the house.
"Now's the time to do it. Build a farmhouse where my kids and my brother's kids will grow up. It's a little away from Shimla, near the golf course. A gloriously green patch! I want to make it completely eco-friendly.
"It's so difficult to acquire anything eco-friendly here in Mumbai. I'm trying to buy an eco-friendly car, but it's so difficult. But I am determined to buy an eco-friendly car. Look at the fumes in Mumbai. I'm more determined than ever to start building my home in Mumbai at the earliest."
Preity is looking at refurbishing her life entirely.
"Last year I badly hurt myself on my back and pelvis. I've been working on myself. We actors are constantly hurting ourselves and neglecting our health. Look at how much Shah Rukh Khan has gone through."
She describes this year of hers in the movies as the "India Shining Year".
"After so many years of shooting abroad, I'm finally working in India. I just shot Samir Karnik's Mera Bharat Mahaan in Punjab. Came back all sun burnt. But now I'm back to my normal self. Now I'm in Mumbai for shooting after a long time... Apart from the crazy traffic and heavy rain, I'm enjoying myself."
However, she hopes that there are more recreation places in Mumbai.
"Where does one go in Mumbai to relax? The other Sunday, when I had a day off I had no place to go! Either you go to a restaurant or a movie. And it takes so long to get anywhere! It's very frustrating. You can't go anywhere. When I want to unwind, I go out of the country. We need more entertainment and sports centres in Mumbai. You can't have children and dogs in Mumbai. If I've children in Mumbai where do I stay with them? That's why I miss my home town Shimla."
Preity, who was earlier looking at one assignment a year, is now busy devouring scripts. Her last commercial release was Jhoom Barabar Jhoom.
"This is probably the best time for me. Look at Shah Rukh Khan in Chak De! India. There were conventional trappings. There're no hard and fast rules about what I can do and can't do. Strangely, I started my career playing an unwed mother, a prostitute and a CBI (Central Bureau of Investigation) trainee. Then I started doing much more commercial films.
"Now it's time for me to do a different kind of film. Working with Rituparno Ghosh and Jahnu Barua there was a lot to unlearn about acting. And it's not as if I look at The Last Lear or Har Pal as small films."
She's currently shooting for Barua's second Hindi film Har Pal with Lilette Dubey and Shiney Ahuja.
"I want to do the work that excites me. I'm not the same actress I used to be. I want to do at least one film every year that pushes the envelope. I did Rituparno Ghosh's Last Lear and now I'm doing Har Pal. It's a totally new experience. I get to play a role I haven't done before.
"All the co-stars, directors, cameraman are new. I'm having so much fun. We've already completed one schedule. Jahnu Barua has a great sense of humour. Though he's very quiet, he knows what he wants. Isha is a pleasure to work with."
Then there's Rituparno Ghosh.
"I just love him. He's too cute. He made feel so comfortable during Last Lear. Working with Mr. Bachchan was a treat for me. Then I had Shefali Shah and Divya Dutta and Arjun Rampal."
One of her most ennobling moments was when Preity recently gave away the bravery awards.
"To meet a woman who fought a leopard with her bare hands to save a child, or a child who jumped into the fire to save another child, or to meet a group of young Mumbayites who've started a private ambulance service, or a Devdasi who had a child at the age of 12, who has run away from her wretched life.
"Believe me, there's no experience to equal these. With people like these Mera Bharat Mahaan is not just a slogan. I don't want to get up every morning and thank god for what he has given me. I'd also like to give back."
Preity feels for the girl child.
"When I went to the Bravery awards, I said I was grateful to be standing there because my parents didn't kill me when I was born. When I was shooting for Mera Bharat Mahaan in Chandigarh, I went to this school where there were 50 boys and just eight girls. That shocked me. What's going to happen 10 years from now?"
And what about marriage?
"Each time I'm asked this, I go...ummm! I'm a grownup girl and I don't have to hide my marriage plans, when it happens. Everything happens in its own time."
Maybe the housewarming and wedding can be combined in Shimla?
"Ha, what if the house takes five years to make? I can't wait that long to get married," comes the retort.