Thursday, September 12, 2013

Parineeti Chopra

“I don’t know what works. The moment I give an unsuccessful film, people may not like me”

By Ankita R Kanabar

(This interview has been published in the August 31, 2013 issue of Super Cinema)

Here’s a disclaimer: Don’t ever call Parineeti Chopra ‘bubbly’. Okay? Or else, she may want to kill you. Well, jokes apart, she totally hates that word. Thank God I didn’t use that adjective for her. But, Parineeti’s positivity, her enthusiasm, and energy is contagious, and that’s probably what translates on-screen too. It amazes you how she manages to be such a live wire despite a gruelling day. She’s someone, who is uninhibited, and has no layer of pretence, and that just comes across. In just a little span, she’s managed to win hearts, make men go weak-kneed with her charm, and proved her mettle a performer. One also can’t help but notice her unconventional choice of films and characters. Looking as pretty as always, the young lady makes time for a little chat at the YRF office. So, here we have, the effervescent actress, in a tête-à-tête! 

Photo credit : Rohan Shrestha 

How has the journey on ‘Shuddh Desi Romance’ been?
Amazing! I was one of the first people to be cast, because obviously Adi (Aditya Chopra) and Maneesh (director) knew me well and they thought I could suit the character of Gayatri. And then, right from workshops to readings, I have spent so much time with Jaideep (writer) and Maneesh that now when it’s close to release, I actually feel like it’s my baby. I’m very excited, and very nervous also this time.

But, are you generally nervous before a film’s release?
This is very different from what I’ve done. I’m known for only for enthusiastic roles, very bubbly characters, and I so hate that word! Till now, in the promos you’ll see I’m very happy and all, but in the film I’m very different. And I hope people accept me like that also. I was so clueless during ‘Ladies vs Ricky Bahl’ and ‘Ishaqzaade’, so I was only excited that the films are releasing because I never wanted to be an actress, and they did well also, but this industry is very volatile you know, careers are very volatile. Every Friday something new happens. Films can go any way. So, it’s very scary.

How easily do you slip into a character?
I pretty easily, switch on, switch off. My debut, I was myself in the film, so there was no switch on-switch off. ‘Ishaqzaade’ was a very aggressive role for me to do, it wasn’t close to me at all. It took a lot out of me, physically. And ‘Shuddh Desi...’ right now for me is completely different. For that I have to go on set and switch on. I was not that person at all. I was completely in the hands of Maneesh. He used to take care of how I’m behaving, how I’m talking, how I’m sitting, standing on set. So, there was no challenge like that. Fortunately, out of three films so far, Maneesh has been the director for two, and Habib sir for one. So, I believe I shouldn’t even use my brains right now, because they’ve been here for years. I just let myself to them, trust my instinct and try to be spontaneous.

How do you choose your films?
Firstly, what counts is the story, film itself, because the script is the king, and then secondly, what matters is the director. If there’s an average script, and a great director, the film will be great. But even if the script is great, and the director is average, the film will not be good. So, the director is everything. The director is like the chef, who cooks the dish. The best ingredients he uses in the best way possible. If you give it in my hands, I will screw the dish. So, definitely I choose a film based on the script and director, and then I see what my role is in the film. Even if my role is not the title role or the lead role, it doesn’t matter. It just has to be a great role in a great film.

Do you still feel like a newcomer, or have you settled in?
It’s like coming back after a vacation, you don’t really settle in, also because, I took a long break post ‘Ishaqzaade’, and I didn’t sign anything at that time. Now I feel like, I know this is what I want to do in life, so it makes me very happy, but you can never get too used to it, because it’s not in your hand. See if it was in my hand, I would make every film of mine a big success, and just leave it to that. As an actor, you’re constantly on the edge, thinking if the audience will like you with each new film.

 But have you adapted to the various changes?
Adapting is not a problem. But what are the things that I’m asked to adapt to? These are things like dressing better, getting used to your personal life being public; you constantly have to worry about how you’re looking, your weight and all of that. These are the things that were never a part of my life, but I knew I was getting into them. As of now though, I’m still not a star, so this hasn’t really started to happen to me yet, but after a few years when I’m successful, they may happen. So, yes, there are many things to adapt to, and those will be life-changing, but I’m trying my best, slowly and steadily. I’m literally taking each day as it comes, and I can’t be bothered to think about the future because it’s not in my hands.

So, you don’t think you’re a star still?
People love me, and that’s amazing but I think stardom is something that comes after years. I call Salman Khan and Shah Rukh Khan a star, so we’re nowhere close to them.

You’re on your third film, do you see any change in you? As an actor, and as a person.
Not as a person for sure. I think I’m too thick to let things change me as a person. But as an actor, you become more aware of technicalities, the set, right from focus marks to lighting to being aware of the camera, you’re definitely, technologically more sound and knowledgeable, and if that affects your performance, then that’s great. For me, it helps me, it really helps me to know all these things, and then I give a particular shot in a particular way. I think you learn with time, and that really makes you grow as an actor, for sure.

What’s the best part of your job?
For me, it’s that one moment when action is called and you have to be someone else. You may have heard this from a lot of actors that they love being someone else, but that’s the truth. Just for those five seconds or five minutes, you have to be someone, who is not you. That feeling is unimaginable. When you’re making someone believe that you’re some other person, and make them emote with you, when you’re crying, they’re crying, when you’re laughing, they’re laughing. That feeling is not something you can compare to anything.

Would you also sing someday, professionally, considering you do like singing? 
I would love to! I hope I get a great offer like my sister Priyanka. The way she’s doing it, it’s so amazing, so if I get a chance like that, I would never let it go.

People think you’re different, in terms of how you look, and your choices of roles. Do you think that’s what works for you?
I hope so, because my mantra is, I want to be myself all the time, I don’t want to follow someone. I think when any actor comes into the industry, he/she is told a set of rules – that you must lose weight, this is how you’re supposed to look, this how you’re supposed to sit and talk, these are the people you should be meeting; there are these set rules. I was told those rules too, but I was also told to be myself. So, you have to choose one thing you know. And I chose to be myself. A lot of people also told me, ‘Oh you should be thinner. You should be doing these kind of films.’ But I’m taking decisions and I do things that totally come to my heart at that time, so, I don’t know if that’s what is working for me. I don’t know what works. The moment I give an unsuccessful film, people may not like me, so I’m anyway going to be myself. I’m never going to change myself as a person. I won’ allow it for myself. But if that’s what people like, they’re always going to get that. I want to use the cliché that I’m an open book. I really am. What’s really inside is outside. It’s there for everyone to see. Everybody knows me very well.

You come across as someone who’s very vibrant, full-of-life. Are you the same even while you’re going through a not-so-good phase?
I actually am very bad at dealing with it. I’m very emotional, very sensitive, and I cry a lot, I get very stressed, I lose my appetite, and losing my appetite is like a big sacrifice. I don’t want to give you a boring or a very beautifully sounding answer like, ‘Oh I’m very tough and I come out of it.’ No! I’m terrible. I’m terrible at dealing with stress; I’m terrible with dealing with failure. I get depressed at times like these, and I don’t even like speaking to people that time. I just want that phase to pass quickly.

While you're working on back-to-back films, how do you de-stress? 
I de-stress by sleeping. The moment I get time, I sleep, or I hear a lot of music. Music is like my life. And if I get more than 2-3 days, then I travel a lot, I go on holidays by myself.

There is an interesting line-up of films from you... 
Now, there’s ‘Shuddh Desi Romance’ which will release on September 6, then my next release will be ‘Hasee Toh Phasee’ with Siddharth Malhotra, then I start Habib Faisal’s film with Aditya Roy Kapoor, which starts now, after ‘Shuddh Desi...’ releases, and then I have ‘Kill Dill’ with Ranveer Singh, Ali Zafar and Govinda, that’s Shaad Ali’s film, and I’m very excited for that one.

Lastly, while on reel, you’re up to some ‘Shudd Desi Romance’, what’s on that front for real?

Romance is non-existent in my life and I don’t know why. I’m completely single, and I’m looking for a boy, but don’t seem to be coming across someone right. I’m romantic but I’m not like the cliché romantic. If someone comes to me with flowers, I’ll really hit him (Laughs). I just want someone who’s all cool. If he would just sit at home with me, eat food, watch TV, that’ll be all cool with me! 

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