(Images via Google Images)
Anyone who has spent time with Parineeti Chopra would vouch for the fact that she has a totally different vibe. There are no airs, she is friendly, never runs out of charge and comes across like she knows the game quite well. Well, why wouldn’t she, given that she has been on the other side, too. Having started her career in Bollywood, this banker-turned-actor used to work in Yash Raj Film’s marketing department. And, she has put all of it to good use; her choices of films are testimony to that. Just five films old and it seems like she has been here forever. She has worked with the big banners and always made sure that she got the meatier parts in her films. Racing through the fast lane and soaking in all the love and glory that is coming her way, Parineeti, who will be seen next in Shaad Ali’s Kill Dill, agrees that she is a changed person now. There is a new set of dreams, a brand new bucket list and an exciting line-up of work. THE MAN listens in…
You have said that you used to look down upon actors earlier. When, then, did you realise that this is what you want to do?
It was during my time in Yash Raj. That was when I spent a lot of time with actors and that really did it. That is when I realised that they work so hard that I started defending them whenever anyone used to say, ‘oh! what do these stars have to do?” Then one day I was like, yaar, I don’t mind acting, let me also try. Then I left the company and before I could join an acting school, I got my first offer in Ladies Vs Ricky Bahl.
But the journey from the geeky good student to an acting diva wasn’t as easy as you thought it would be right, especially with all the criticism over your clothes and weight that came your way initially?
It was really bad. I was completely unprepared. I had no idea about hair, make-up or styling. I used to think anybody from a salon can blow dry my hair and I would look good. I didn’t know what shoes would go with which outfit, what colour lipstick matches my dress… I was clueless. I had also not lost any weight and I was so big, so nothing used to fit me also. So I was bashed by the critics. Everyone appreciated my acting but said I didn’t look good and didn’t know how to carry myself. I got so much of negativity. And, the best thing was there were not wrong, they were absolutely right. I didn’t know what to do. Now I am figuring out all of it. Now nobody talks about the way I dress.
But did this sudden barrage of criticism upset you?
See, I understand that I was the one fully at fault. I can’t blame the media, because they were assessing me like they were doing for all actors. All actors are well-dressed, then why should they be partial to me just because I can act? It is their right and they were right. Today, I am making an effort, I have lost weight and I know that I dress much better. So now you can’t say anything.
But does it matter Parineeti then that Bollywood is not just about acting? That apart from your acting, you will be constantly judged on everything you do?
You are right, if I were to be a banker, I would only be judged by my work. But I have chosen an industry which is about external appearances and performances. So why would I not expect them to judge me on my looks? My problem is only when they overstep the line. I feel that you must judge me on how I look, what I am wearing, how glamourous I am and even to an extent my personal life. You are definitely allowed to know. I would like to know when Brad Pitt got married, so same thing goes for all of us. But the only thing is if you click my pictures when I am out for a film or a date in the middle of the night, then you can’t blame me for not wearing make-up. That is not allowed. That is my personal space and I cant live my life worrying how I would look in a picture.
You have always played characters that have as much or even more importance than the male leads. By accident or design?
I have chosen out of what I have been offered, so I think my choices have been designed by the people who have offered me these strong roles. Out of them I have chosen what is best for me.
How do you approach a character? Is there a lot of preparation that goes into every character?
Not for every character. Life, for instance, take Hasee Toh Phasee. We had no reference for that character. She was on that thin line between insane and genius. So I had to work hard to get her mannerisms right. I prepared for almost a month. But for a film like Daawat–E–Ishq, took only 10-15 days because I just had to learn the language. It depends film to film. But I try not to make a performance stale. So I do workshops to understand the character, to be in her shoes, so that I can react spontaneously when it comes to the real take.
Most of your characters are the fast-talking, smart and energetic girls from small towns. When will you play a really sober, quiet girl?
Thank god, you didn’t say “bubbly”. I hate it. I think I am lucky that I got the characters I played till now, because they were all strong characters. And, coming to small town, in my first film Ricky Bahl, I was the richest girl in the film. I played a spoilt brat from Delhi, and there was nothing small town about that. Again in Hasee Toh Phasee, I played a very rich Gujarati girl from Mumbai. But its because of these roles that I got noticed. If I were to play the same demure girl, I would be lost in the crowd. I think only because of my characters I stood out and I got noticed.
Are you happy with all your performances till now?
Overall I am happy, but in every film there are a few scenes which I feel that I can do much better now. With time, every character grows on you and now if you were to shoot Hasee Toh Phasee again, I know I can do it better, because I know what I exactly have to do. But I am happy that no one has ever said I was bad in a film.
Now that you are earning a lot of money….
(Interrupts) Nooooo…. I don’t make enough money. I want more money.
Of course, all of us want more money. So what is that one thing you are saving up your money for?
I think travel is first on the list. I travel a lot. Every two months, I pick a place and I take off alone. But the one thing I am really saving up for is to buy a house in Mumbai. The houses here are so expensive and the kind I am looking for is about Rs 25-30 crore. Now, that is a lot of money. So my dream right now is to buy a house in Mumbai.
Are you scared that a time will come when you have to give up on all the glamour and the big bucks?
I don’t think I won’t wait till the time when people write me off. I am the kind of person who might not even do this for long. I will do it till this interests me and till I know that people enjoy watching me. Otherwise I am pretty well qualified and I am sure that I can go back to working in a bank anytime.