|Priyanka Chopra with Dane Cook (who voices Dusty) and Teri Hatcher (Dottie’s voice) at the Los Angeles premiere of Planes|
If Ishani was entering a Miss Universe or Miss World pageant for Top Plane, where would she place?
I think Ishani would win. She has an amazing propeller (laughs).
See, you can take your pick. That’s the beauty of it. That she works off whichever side you want her to be. It’s my favourite line in the movie when Dusty (voiced by Dane Cook) looks at her and goes, ‘Wow, look at your propeller,’ and yeah, so I think Ishani would definitely place well.
So working to come up with her voice, what sort of nuances did you want to throw in there to get that old sexy plane thing?
Klay (Hall, the director) actually just told me to be me. I think he just said that I needed to keep the voice pretty much like mine, but the only thing that I really want to do because she was an Indian plane, I didn’t want to give her an exaggerated Indian accent which ends up happening in a lot of stereotyped Indian characters that I see. I wanted her to be the way we speak, you know, which is the way I speak. And he was totally cool with that. But I did add a few Indian words here and there — Hindi words and expressions and stuff because I wanted her to be very unique to the culture that we come from.
We’re all very impressed by how big a franchise Cars has become. Do you remember when you first realised what a massive franchise it was?
Yeah, but I never really thought or noticed it. Like you go and watch a movie and then you’re like, ‘Oh my god, Cars was so much fun’, and that’s it. But I didn’t think of it from the prospect of, ‘Oh, there’d be a spinoff of Planes and I’d be in it.’ So I’m happy about that. I’m glad I liked Cars when I watched it (laughs).
How shocking or thrilling was it when you found out you were doing the voice of Ishani in a Disney animated film?
Well, you know, Disney came to me with this about three years ago. I love all Disney movies. In my head, I’m Tinker Bell (from Peter Pan)... I’m a fairy and if I could be anybody, I’d be Tinker Bell with magic dust. The closest I could come to being a Disney princess, I think, was Ishani. So it was fun.
How was it being a newbie at voicing an animation character?
You know, we do a lot of dubbing in Hindi films and we have live sound, but we do dub whatever we’ve shot sometimes in the booth. So I was familiar with the process of it. But for me, creating a completely new character from scratch was a new experience. Going into the studio and actually thinking how Ishani as a character would say this line or what I could add to it. And thankfully, Klay let me improvise as much as I wanted to. The booth was my own. I could do whatever I wanted and we just had a good time. I don’t even know how quickly I finished it because, you know, we were just laughing and I was blooper queen — it was just so much fun.
For me, the most intriguing thing was to see Ishani make the faces that I do. And I’m really animated when I talk. So, my eyes become big and I could see her do all of that which was really cool because they videotaped me while I was doing my lines!
Didn’t that freak you out when you saw that on the big screen?
First it did. When I first heard my voice on Ishani, I was freaked out a little bit. I was like, ‘Uh, this will take a little getting used to’. But I was very excited about it. I thought that... I mean it was difficult for me to differentiate for a while that this is my voice and this is a character that I have to watch, but after I got used to it, it was fun.
What was your first impression of Ishani when you saw her — just visually?
Well, initially the plane looked really different. And then I went in and we dubbed and then there was a lot of back and forth that we kept doing till she came out the way she was. My contribution to what Ishani looks like were her eyes. I wanted her to have kohl eyes because I wear a lot of kohl on my eyes. It made her a little feminine which I was happy about. And she had all these bright colours. You know, she’s gentle and feminine and yet she’s a tough girl.
One of the most eloquent sequences in the film is Ishani and Dusty circling the Taj Mahal...
Well, I’ve been to the Taj Mahal many times but that’s because I’ve shot there. It was the perfect place I think to have a romantic escapade like Ishani and Dusty had in the movie. And I love the Indian music in the background. It’s the A.R. Rahman song (Tere bina) from Guru. It’s a beautiful, beautiful song.
Who in your family is going to be most impressed to hear you on screen?
Most of my friends’ kids... they’re planning on having these big screenings and birthday parties which are like Planes birthday parties and stuff. So they’re all really excited about it. For my birthday a month ago (July 18), I had so many fans from all over the world sending me all these Ishani planes from all the Disney stores.
What did you learn about yourself through the making of this film?
That I had a great propeller! (Laughs) And voice (laughs). I’m the glam coach in the movie and that’s what I’ve been told. But I did learn about me because I put in a lot of myself into Ishani. She’s this tough girl in the world of boys. I think she’s a really tough chick, you know. She’s easy on the eye and at the same time she’s tough and she’s a champion and, you know, I think that’s what I wanna be. A champion.