Preity: Tired of sad roles!

Preity: Tired of sad roles!
13 Nov 2008, 0000 hrs IST, MARK MANUEL ,TNN
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Preity Zinta looked pensive.

She was discussing the next role she wants to play. “I’ve been so sad in my last couple of films,” she sighed, “maybe I ought to do a romance, because in those roles I look better and feel — ah, so happy! I could even do an action film, because that’s the only bracket left I’ve not ventured into.”

We were talking in her car over dahi batata puri at Bandra’s famous Elco Arcade chaat wallah. Me, marvelling at the astonishing amount of junk food the pretty actress was putting away without a thought about the calories, her waist and what the consequences of this binge would be. “I’m leaving for Dubai, I’m going to be away for a while shooting for Main Aur Mrs Khanna, so I feel like splurging,” she pouted, dismissing my concerns about her food and figure.

Coming back to films, I don’t know how sad she has really appeared in her last few roles, but that she’s been hugely successful in them there is no doubt. People are still talking about Preity’s performance as a poor village girl (“earthy, from the soil,” she insisted) in last month’s Heroes.

And this at a time when every Friday since its release has been a blockbuster Friday with new and exciting films and different stars competing for box office fame and critical acceptance. Then there was also overseas acclaim for her at the 44th International Chicago Film Festival where she got the Silver Hugo — the Best Actress Award for her performance in Deepa Mehta’s Heaven On Earth. But that, again, was a sad role; Preity plays a true life victim of domestic violence, a battered Punjabi immigrant housewife in Toronto.

I asked whether such a thought-provoking film, which had the intelligentsia at the Toronto and Chicago film festivals sitting up, would be accepted in Mumbai. Especially since Preity is, as a New York paper once said of her, more cheerleader, homecoming queen and fraternity sweetheart in Bollywood than, say, an actress known for playing, well, troubled characters in neo-realistic cinema.

“Yes,” she said confidently. “I gave my heart, my life, to do this role, and the satisfaction I got…” her voice trailed off. She wants every man, every woman, to see Heaven on Earth because everything in the film is so real, you can apparently feel the emotions of its players. “Some scenes broke my heart,” she said, “they bothered me, it’s not that there was much violence — but the shadow of the violence, it was eerie, and a time came when the fine line between what I was performing and what I was feeling got erased.”

We shall have to wait for Heaven on Earth to see whether the warm and sensitive actress’ fears are justified. Meanwhile, with her at that stage in her career when she’s eager to venture into different cinema, there’s hope that she might do an action role or, ahem, a heavy-duty romantic one soon. “I won’t sign a film or do a Daku Haseena kind of role just because of the action,” she clarified, “but give me an incredible story in which action is just one of the crutches.”

As for romance, as in her cross-border affair in Veer-Zaara, or maybe even more sexually explicit roles as in Salaam Namaste and Kabhi Alvida Na Kehna, where Preity scores one for the independent, modern Indian woman, the actress said, “Maybe I’m old-fashioned, but I like elegance in romance, not this easy come-easy go relationships of today, where there’s no depth, no sacrifice. It’s like, if it’s not you — then it’ll be somebody else. There’s no respect, no will to be in it, and marriages are breaking up in one, two years for silly reasons. Romance has become like fast food, nobody’s taking time to cook and relish a meal, you understand?”

Well, kind of. And, talking about fast food, the chaat wallah was knocking on her car window and asking, “Aur kya, madam?” And Preity Zinta looked pensive again. But not for long. “Dahi batata puri,” she ordered.

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