Miss Ishaqzaade

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  • Published 11.05.12

There is something about Parineeti Chopra that is instantly likeable. When t2 met her at the Yash Raj Films office just weeks before the release of her first solo heroine project Ishaqzaade, she was popping medicine between interviews. “I am on drugs,” she says with a laugh. Though she looks under the weather, all aches and pains are forgotten as soon as Parineeti starts talking about her lucky break, working with Arjun Kapoor and her famous cousin Priyanka Chopra.

You have swept away all the newcomer awards this year. Congratulations!

Thank you. Until about a year ago, I used to work at the Yash Raj office. In the last one year, I got signed as an actress, my first film (Ladies Vs Ricky Bahl) released, I have already received seven awards for it and my second film is releasing in a fortnight. It’s been unbelievable!

Your second film is up for release while you are still enjoying the success of the first one.

I know. It’s amazing. Even if I do 20 films after this, I don’t think I’ll get a character like Zoya (from Ishaqzaade). It’s diametrically opposite to Dimple (in Ladies Vs Ricky Bahl). I am not a 19-year-old, loud and rich brat. It’s a very aggressive love story. There is no rationale behind their (Zoya and Parma’s) hatred for each other. It is an outstanding script.

I believe you went through almost two months of screen-tests before director Habib Faisal signed you for the film.

Yes. When he first told me about the film, Habib Sir was very categorical that he wasn’t offering me the role — I had to prove that I was Zoya. It was the same for Arjun (Kapoor). From looking the part to the language and even our physical strength was tested. Arjun and I were then tested together before we finally got on board. This was followed by six months of preparation and then three months of shooting.

You have quite a few stunts in the film. Which was the toughest?

They were all equally tough but if I had to pick one, it would have to be all the shooting scenes. Even when I had the dummy gun in my hand, I was just petrified about killing someone (laughs). When we started, I didn’t even know how to hold a gun and the film demanded that it become an extension of me. There were two people on the sets to train Arjun and me on how to hold, load and unload different types of guns and manage the recoil. Even learning to drive a Yezdi was tough! It is a heavy bike. Physically, this has been a very demanding film.

Did you feel like a veteran of sorts compared to Arjun Kapoor?

(Laughs) He used to call me a ‘veteran actress’ on the sets. I had to fly back to Mumbai from Lucknow during the shoot because some work needed to be completed for Ricky Bahl. He used to pull my leg about how I was a jet-setting heroine. In reality, he definitely knew more about movie-making than me. Not only has he grown up in the industry, he has worked as an assistant director. He is so passionate and knowledgeable about films. On the sets, Arjun doesn’t behave like an actor and he just concentrates on his scenes. He looks at a film in totality and that’s something that I have learnt from him. I don’t think I will praise him on his face, so if he ever reads this, Arjun will be surprised (laughs).

Let’s rewind a little. You used to work at Yash Raj Films in the marketing department before you became an actress?

I did a triple honours degree in Finance, Business and Economics from Manchester Business School but by the time I finished my degree, the recession had hit and I couldn’t get a job in London. So, I moved to Mumbai in 2009 and I stayed with my (cousin) sister (Priyanka Chopra). I tagged along with her when she was shooting at YRF for Pyaar Impossible! I managed to get an internship in the marketing department. It seemed like the perfect job to me because I could use what I had learnt and still work in films. After a year, I decided that I wanted to become an actor.

What made you want to switch careers?

I had done theatre in school, so I always knew I could act but I never wanted to. I used to hate actors because I always thought they got all that money and fame for doing nothing and just looking pretty. Obviously, this was before I started working at YRF and I realised how much goes into being an actor. Once I understood more about filmmaking and acting, I fell in love with it and I wanted to act.

How did you get Ladies Vs Ricky Bahl? Considering you worked at YRF which produced the film, it must have been a cakewalk.

I got to know Maneesh (Sharma, director of Ladies Vs Ricky Bahl) while we were working on the promotions of Band Baaja Baaraat. After a point, he became a friend and I used to tell him that I wanted to become an actor. I got to know much later that way before I had told him, Maneesh had told Adi (Aditya Chopra) that he was going to cast me as Dimple in Ricky Bahl. Apparently, Maneesh used to keep telling Habib Sir (who wrote the film’s dialogues) things that I would say and he would write them into the script. So, Dimple was literally written for me. I signed a three-film deal with YRF just a few days after I resigned. I know not many can tell this story. I am blessed.

But you didn’t make a typical solo heroine launch...

During my first meeting with Adi, he told me ‘this is not an ideal launch because you are not a solo lead but if you do well, it will pay off’. And it did!

How has Ricky Bahl changed your life?

Everything has changed. I used to be a nerd who weighed 85kg. Today, I am a heroine! I never thought I would lead this life. From doing interviews to seeing myself on screen, seeing my photographs in the newspapers to facing the camera, it’s all new and very exciting for me. It’s so easy for any 23-year-old to get swept away and for me that is the scariest part of this fame. I don’t want to jinx anything.

What kind of advice does Priyanka give you?

She is a typical elder sister. Very scary! (Laughs) She scolds me when I do something wrong and is encouraging when she thinks I am on the right track. People keep asking me if there is competition, which I really find funny. How can I compete with my own sister and she has been around for over a decade? It’s beyond ridiculous. Priyanka is a phone call away for me and I call her at all hours, for all kinds of advice. She always used to say, ‘I know you can act because you are a complete nautanki (laughs), but off-camera be yourself at all times’.