Diana Penty with Deepika Padukone & Saif Ali Khan in Cocktail
Who’s that girl?’ was the question on everyone’s lips when the first promo of Cocktail went on air. Bumming around on the beach, sharing a laugh with co-stars Saif Ali Khan and Deepika Padukone or grooving to the superhit Tumhi ho bandhu move, Diana Penty is the one everyone is looking at. A t2 chat with the model-turned-actress.
Cocktail releases on Friday. How are the butterflies in the stomach doing?
I am very nervous… super nervous. Huge butterflies flying around in the stomach! But am excited though. Can’t believe the time is here when my first film will be out there for all to see. I have been on this project for a year-and-a-half and to finally be just days away (from release) is such an amazing feeling.
Does having such a huge film as your debut add to the nervousness or ease it to an extent?
It adds to the excitement for sure. Ever since the promos were made public, we have been getting great feedback. The music has been well appreciated, especially Tumhi ho bandhu. That, of course, always helps. I am kind of looking forward to it (laughs).
What’s the best feedback that you have got for the promos?
The feedback that I am getting is mostly for the music, which is great because I love the music of Cocktail as well. The kind of reception that Tumhi ho bandhu has got is phenomenal. It’s my first ever Bollywood song and therefore extremely special. It’s playing everywhere. A lot of young people are also loving the promos because they feel it’s a very fresh-looking film, something they can relate to. It feels good that people are looking forward to seeing the film so much.
How did Cocktail happen?
Well, honestly, I got the offer one fine day and I never even got time to think! It literally happened overnight where I met Homi (Adajania, the director) and Dinesh (Vijan, the co-producer) and they asked me to audition. I auditioned the next day and they had a little meeting and straight after, I was told that I was on! I was like: ‘Yes, of course!’ It took a while to sink in… there was zero time to think. It’s a great first film for any newcomer.
What about your character Meera hooked you?
When Homi read me the script, I felt for Meera a lot. I understood where she was coming from and what she was thinking and why she would do the things she would do. I relate to Meera a lot in terms of nature and attitude. I sometimes feel that Meera is an extension of Diana. It was kind of exciting playing someone who is so similar to me.
But you did have to de-glam quite a bit to play the girl-next-door…
Honestly, it was just a bit of a mind shift. The general perception of a first film is that the girl will be made to look quite glamorous… look like a million bucks. But then Meera has a certain individuality and it was imperative that she come across looking a certain way and wearing a certain kind of clothes. For me, the story and the film is always bigger than an individual. And though she dresses down, Meera has her own distinct sense of style which I think is very cool (laughs).
Having done quite a few films together, Saif Ali Khan and Deepika Padukone obviously share a rapport, on screen and off it. How did you fit in?
They actually went out of their way to make me feel comfortable! I really have no complaints… I couldn’t ask for more. Not once was I made to feel that this was my first film and that they had worked with each other before. They were both such rockstars. I never felt alienated. The whole team has been so good to me. In fact, Saif puts it really well. He says: ‘It’s the first time the three of us (Saif, Deepika and Diana) are working together and so it is a new experience for everyone.’
Is Saif a hands-on producer?
To be honest, I would see him more as an actor, at least on this project. He was always the fun co-actor on sets while Dinesh was more the producer.
This is a film about frienship. How important is friendship for you in life?
It’s extremely important for me because I feel that friendship should be the basis of every relationship. It’s a very strong way to begin any kind of relationship. I am not someone who has a hundred friends, but I have a few people I am close to and they mean a lot to me.
What are the kind of films that you are looking at?
Well, I am thinking of Cocktail and nothing else right now! (Laughs.) I really hope that people appreciate what I have done in it. Yes, of course, for future films, the script has to be something that I can relate to. That would be the criteria.
Finally, why should we watch Cocktail this weekend?
Well, it’s my first film so please come and watch me! (Laughs.) On a serious note, I would like to say that it’s a beautiful story and it’s been told in a lovely manner. Yes, it’s a commercial love story but the fact that Homi has directed it, has given it an edge. He has a very different and a very strong visual sense that you will get to see in Cocktail. I think people will find that interesting. Also, it’s a very young film and most in the audience will relate to that. It’s a good-looking film and the music is just fabulous. So, it’s really quite a good mix and that would be its USP.
Date of birth: November 2, 1985.
Vital statistics: 34-24-35
Has modelled for: Maybelline, Virgin Mobile and Garnier Fructis.
Was the original choice for: Nargis Fakhri’s role in Rockstar.
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