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Preity Zinta takes on a different beat

Suddenly, she’s into absolutely new areas. IPL, arty movies and then there’s a dream to start a women sports school. Preity Zinta in a pep talk with Hiren Kotwani.
By Hiren Kotwani | Hindustan Times, Mumbai
UPDATED ON FEB 15, 2008 03:36 PM IST

She's changing her act for sure. Suddenly, she’s into absolutely new areas.. Indian Professional League cricket.. a clutch of movies which require her to be much more than a cool cutesy.. and there’s the dream of starting a sports school for women. Meanwhile all goes steady on the Ness Wadia front. So here’s Preity Zinta in a pep talk with Hiren Kotwani

All right, you have been discussing your IPL non-stop. But there’s a buzz that you got into IPL to squash the rumour that you had split with Ness Wadia.
What! Do you think I’d invest half of my life’s money just for that? If someone wants to start rumours, I don’t care. Why would I get others into IPL? I’d tell people to keep on gossiping if they want, but also to please see my cricketmatches.

There is also the rumour that you'll be getting married to Ness Wadia later this year or early next year.
That's too personal. If and when it happens, everyone will know about it. Like it's not cool to ask Aishwarya if she's pregnant. We're honourable people, leading an open life. I want to tell everyone not to come to me with this question. It's irritating to answer it for two-and-a-half years.

See Aishwarya again. First, she was hounded about marriage and now about having a child. Then it will be another child, then a scooter for the kid! Usko toh lynch kar diya hai! I don't want to be the lynched victim. If I don't give an answer, then there will be a story about a break-up. I've worked very hard for all the good things, so I don'twant anyone to undermine them.

Your association with the Indian Professional League cricket team came as a surprise.
It wasn't a surprise for me because we had been working on it. Since it was my first venture into another area, I wanted to be quiet about it in the beginning. What if nothing happened later? So, I waited till the bids opened. I also want to build a sports school. Now, this opportunity has come my way. I hope it opens more doors for women since cricket is a male-dominated sport.

The BCCI has the vision, this is just the beginning. Forgotten heroes and others will get more employment in sports again. I'm privileged and excited to be in the company of Mr Ambani, Mr Vijay Mallya and Shah Rukh Khan.. I'm the youngest.. a bit nervous too. I'm not that rich.. I've put in a lot of my money.. I hope it works. I need more support than I ever did in my life.

How much more of a cricket enthusiast have you become?
I don't know all that much about cricket, I'm learning everyday. (Laughs) I know about boundaries and sixers and that is very important in a Twenty20 match, everything else doesn't matter. (laughs) Yesterday, I learnt the difference between a yorker and a bouncer.

I didn't learn acting before I came into films, I picked it up along the way. I only wish Sachin Tendulkar was in my team.. but at the end of the day, we're all Team India.

Does the talk of politics and manipulations in the BCCI worry you?
Please don't say politics or any negative things. I don't want any disadvantages.. of course, I don't mind the advantages. IPL is very well planned and structured. There's a transparency. Only a certain amount of money can be spent, no overspending. A rich team can't buy out another team.

You'll also be competing with Shah Rukh Khan?


I started my career with Shah Rukh in

Dil Se

. Now I'm starting my cricket career with him in Mohali. If SRK was playing, then it would have meant competition.. we wish each other well. His team is the one I'll cheer for, after mine. (Laughs) We won't tear each other apart when our teams are playing on opposite sides.

How much is Ness Wadia's involvement in this venture?


I have three very strong partners. Ness is my strong support in every endeavour I undertake. Karan Paul of APJ group is a very intelligent and highly accomplished businessman. And there's Mohit Burman from the Dabur group. They are the finance guys and take care of that aspect, I take care of the creative. And of course, there's the coach and the manager.

Okay. On the movie front, Deepa Mehta's Heaven on Earth seems similar to Provoked.
They are two absolutely different subjects. Please don't come in with any preconceived notion. HeavenonEarth offers several perspectives. The most important one is immigration.. our people go to a foreign country, thinking it will be heaven, but it doesn't turn out that way. Being away from your home, the long hours, the loneliness...


Was working with Deepa Mehta a different experience from working with Rituparno Ghosh for

The Last Lear

, which is also in English?

I love Ritu

da.

It was absolutely fun though I worked for only 12 days. With Deepa, it's been a great journey for three months. I've never been on that path cinematically. The media reported nonsense, that I was distraught. If I get my hands on the person, I'll really beat him or her up. I'll always remember Deepa as the director who took me where I have never been to before.

In The Last Lear, we speak English as we normally do. But in Heaven on Earth, there's English and Punjabi, but not with the confidence level that I usually speak these languages. The hardest I've ever worked on any film is this.

The Last Lear, Jahnu Barua's HarPal, Heaven on Earth ..why mainly offbeat cinema suddenly?
This year, the audience will see me in a new avatar, a new personality with a new attitude. And why not offbeat?

Kya Kehna was off beat, DilSe, in which I played the second lead, was absolutely offbeat too. I had become too comfortable as an actress, I had stopped taking chances. I needed to push myself in a different direction and I feel like a newcomer all over again.

What's your agenda like in the next few weeks and months?
I'm hearing scripts.. I will finalise some more films soon. Right now, my four films up for release are important. Then the IPL.We'll be going this Sunday to pick our team.. then the IPL matches from April to end of May.

No plans of turning film producer?
I don't know. There's too much on my plate already. Some get into production and talk about Rs 20 crore projects. I have a Rs 300-plus crore project, it would be foolish to get into other things.

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