Pune is lucky to have a police commissioner like Rashmi Shukla: Preity Zinta

A difficult life experience got Preity to focus on the issue of women safety in the country and put her dream project together

regional movies Updated: Jul 13, 2017 14:13 IST
Anjali Shetty
Anjali Shetty
Hindustan Times, Pune
Preity Zinta,Kavach,Pune
MUMBAI, INDIA - SEPTEMBER 12, 2016 : Preity Zinta attended the special screening of movie Pink on Monday September 12, 2016 in Mumbai, India. (Freelance photo by Yogen Shah)(Yogen Shah)

In 2014, Preity Zinta had filed a complaint against her ex, Ness Wadia alleging that he molested her. Soon after, she found herself at the receiving end of unpleasant reactions. Looking back, she says, “If an actor of my stature and a public figure can go through finger-pointing and be accused of being a publicity hound, then I cannot even imagine what a common lady goes through on a daily basis.”

The incident left Preity shocked, forcing her to leave India. “I got angry and decided never to return. In the US, I checked how the systems work. I called 911, and hung up after they said ‘hello’. I was relieved to know it works. Within 10 minutes, I heard the doorbell ring and a cop was at my doorstep. After a thorough search of the entire home, he asked me why I called. He suspected a perpetrator was hiding and I was too scared to report. I want this kind of safety for women in India,” says the Soldier (1998) actor.

Her husband, Gene Goodenough, encouraged her to do something about it. She says, “He couldn’t understand how such a big star like me could go through name-calling. It took a while to have things in place because I wasn’t able to find the right people to associate with. While some wanted to be seen on TV, others wanted to start a bed sheet business instead. I went through phases of being dejected. Gene introduced me to Anthony Moorhouse, ex-Special Forces Australia, who has been working on security services extensively in 155 countries.”

In the city to kick off her pilot project — Kavach, a safety device — she seems relaxed. She is relieved that finally her dream is taking shape. Preity has been meeting police officials and politicians to discuss her project. She says, “I am so glad that Pune has a CP like Rashmi Shukla, who is so involved, approachable and welcoming. She was positive about the project and has promised to help us with whatever details required.”

“I am currently looking at 50,000 women from different streams for the pilot bed of the project, from which 5,000 will be for women in central reserve police force (CRPF), police, army, border security force (BSF) and others from similar services. Safety is not a privilege, it is our right and it is high time we exercise this right,” says Preity, who believes that crime can be stopped by creating a system, in which evidence is collected properly to raise the conviction rate.

She is currently in talks with IT companies, schools and colleges in Pune to tie up for subscriptions of Kavach. “I can easily get one big money bag to produce or sponsor the initiative. However, I want people to be consciously involved and associated with it. I don’t want it to be treated as a charity case.”

On a lighter note, she shares, “My film Bhaiyyaji Superhitt will hit the theatres this October. I am happy to be playing a desi character finally. I was always offered modern and western roles. People would tell me that, how Rishi Kapoor can never look poor, similarly we can never can you in a rural or desi character. Finally, I have managed to crack that mould.”

She is also looking forward to signing more films. “I had visited all my producers and requested them to not send scripts over when I got into the business of cricket. I also deliberately stayed away because I wasn’t get different roles. People has started typecasting me. Now, I am ready again.”

First Published: Jul 05, 2017 18:15 IST