‘I am in the best phase of my life’

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‘I am in the best phase of my life’

By Manjusha Radhakrishnan, Staff Reporter
Published: December 14, 2008, 23:18

Preity Zinta lights up the screen with her energy and irresistible charm. But no more just a bubbly girl next door — she wants to reveal her introspective side.

Under normal circumstances Bollywood actress and entrepreneur Preity Zinta, a constant fixture on the best-dressed list of many Indian designers, would never be spotted wearing the same outfit twice in a row.

So it is a tad surprising, when the Salaam Namaste star is found lounging around the terrace at a plush hotel on a Saturday afternoon in a jacket that bore an uncanny resemblance to the one she wore the night before to amfAR Aids auction. But the ever-so-chirpy actress is quick to allay our fears about her fast-depleting wardrobe.

No sooner, has she taken her seat after posing patiently for pictures, then she tugs at the lapels of her full-sleeved John Galliano jacket cinched at the waist to reveal the mystery behind the fashion faux pas.

“I have developed a very bad skin allergy. I have rashes all over my skin, which is making me really paranoid. I am even scared to step out of my room. Can you see them?

“And the sad part is that the night before I was planning on wearing a beautiful gown for the Aids benefit. But I had to settle for this full-sleeved jacket which covered the breakout,” she says, all the while arching her neck to reveal the extent of her skin inflammation.

Incredible feeling

But it is evident that the actress, who has scored many Bollywood hits over the years, would never allow a measly reaction to break her bubble. Sitting pretty after winning the prestigious Best Actress Award (Silver Hugo) at the Chicago International Film Festival for her stellar performance as a battered Punjabi housewife in Deepa Mehta’s Heaven On Earth, Zinta is determined to look at the bigger picture.

“When Deepa called me on Diwali [the Indian festival of lights] to tell me about the award, I did not believe her and kept asking her whether she had of written proof. It was an incredible feeling. And working with Deepa has been such a pleasure. She has elevated my cinematic experience to a new level. I have learnt so much from her,” says Zinta.

Her vote of thanks continued full throttle as Zinta believes that the acclaimed Toronto-based director had given her career a new lease of life. Her role in the movie, which is included in Dubai International Film Festival line-up, featured Zinta in a de-glamourised role and spelt a clear departure from her usual cloyingly chirpy roles.

“There came a point when I was tired of playing the rich NRI [Non-Resident Indian] girl. I remember joking to my friends that if I were to play another role of an NRI, who had to just look pretty alongside a dashing hero, then I would either have to stab the hero or I would have to plunge a knife into myself,” says Zinta, who had won several popular awards such as the Filmfare Award (Best Actress) for her role as a cherubic NRI based in New York in the hit film Kal Ho Na Ho.

Businesswoman

“I was that perennially bubbly, bubbly girl. I was so bubbly that I think I had bubbles coming out of my ears and nose,” says the actress weaving her trademark throaty laugh into her quip.

“You know, I am not always chirpy 24×7. There is a serious and introspective side to me. When I am 80 years old, I know that I want to look back and be remembered for the roles. There has to be some variety there,” she adds.

Surprisingly, the determination and ruthlessness does not extend to Zinta, the businesswoman. Touted as the first woman to own a cricket team, Zinta confesses that she is a walking disaster when it comes to money matters.

“‘Do not allow Preity into the finance department’ is one of our insider jokes. I am very poor at handling accounts. I tend to be overly generous and in business it is all about negotiations, especially in the current economic situation,” says the joint owner of the Kings XI cricket team.

But what she lacks in financial acumen, she sure makes up for her unbridled enthusiasm.

“I am very passionate about this business venture and I am enjoying every bit of being a businesswoman,” says the actress, who is an ace at boosting her players’ morale and is often seen cheering vociferously from the sidelines during a match.

Not ruling out the option of entering politics, which is often considered a natural progression for many Bollywood actors, Zinta says she is at a space where she is most content.

“I am in the best phase of my life. Now I have the confidence to try and experiment with roles. I am not stressed about where I an going in life. And I don’t have to prove myself to anyone anymore.”

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