Parineeti Chopra, Interview by DIVYA SOLGAMA
“MeriPyaariBindu is like AndazApnaApna”, says Parineeti Chopra.
The actress is seen opposite with Akshay Kumar in ‘Kesari’, and so in a recent conversation with her, she talks about the film, her character, real-life characters she want to play on-screen, her upcoming single as a singer, how does she cope up with her film’s failures, how does she balance between personal and professional life, her favorite shows coming in digital space, idea of getting married and what her family thinks about the same.
Your character is not much shown in the trailer, so kindly put some light on it
Yes, it is not been shown much because ultimately everyone knows the truth that the film is about the 21 Boys and the Battle of Saragarhi. However, the love song that features me and Akshay (Kumar) sir will give the audience an idea about my character. The story is actually about the battle, where there is nothing before this and nothing after. But Anurag (Singh) sir has very smartly added this love story into the war.I am playing a Punjabi character where it’s about a Sikh guy who meets a Sardarni. ‘Kesari’ is just about two days, one day of planning and second day of execution. But during those two days, whenever he (Akshay Kumar) is at his emotional point or decision making point then she comes into his life. I am playing his dead wife’s role in the film, and so he always remembers the conversations that they both used to have, our love story, and so on. Ultimately the story is about 21 Sikhs, and I just wanted to be a part of it. I didn’t care about my role length and screen time. I just heard the story and wanted to be a part of it.
Were you aware of this story which is based on HavildarIshar Singh and who participates in the Battle of Saragarhi?
Yes, in fact in North India you always talk about Battle of Saragarhi, Battle of Panipat, Battle of Kurukshetra, etc. However, my education about the battle has increased only after signing the film. Further during the shoot, I have wondered so many times and even questioned Anurag sir about the real incidents happened, because this is actually too good to be true. It’s a remarkable and unbelievable story of bravery that there were 21 young boys who used to laugh if somebody suggests them to run away from the battle.
How was your working experience with an ensemble cast in Kesari?
Actually, I think ‘Golmaal Again’ was my first and true experience of being in an ensemble cast. There were 19 principal actors, where in which we 6 (5 boys and me) were together for almost all the time. However in ‘Golmaal Again’, the story was focused on me. I was quite lucky that such a role was written for me because I was not 100% sure how it’s going to get shape. But in ‘Kesari’, I am just playing a very small chapter in Akshay sir’s life. And so, I have only scenes with him and not with the other boys in the film, because I am in his imagination. Still it was a good experience. Sometimes you do a film justbecause you wanted to be a part of it and so don’t think about your personal benefit from it. Some films you merely do to have it in your filmography, just like a memento in it.
But before signing any film, do you expect something or the other thing from it?
Yes, everybody thinks in that direction and expects something or the other thing. But nature of the business is such that the decision of some people works and some don’t. For instance, when I was shooting for Golmaal Again, I didn’t understood what actually was going on. But eventually it resonated so well with the audience that it was one of my biggest hit. On the other hand, expectations were completely different for ‘Namaste England’ and so it didn’t resonate with the audience and didn’t work. So as an actor you always have a hope, but something work in your favor and something don’t, because that’s the nature of game.
How do you cope up with the failure? For instance, ‘MeriPyaariBindu’ was a sweet film but didn’t work at the box-office.
Yes, we keep joking that MeriPyaariBindu is like AndazApnaApna, where the latter film didn’t work at the box-office but now everybody loves the film. ‘MeriPyaariBindu’ is exactly like that film. However, I am not comparing these two films and what I mean was theory wise. ‘MeriPyaariBindu’ is one my strongest satellite success film. Arjun (Kapoor) gave me this insight that some films don’t do well on the box-office, but actually it can do much more than you ever think. Akshay (Kumar) sir told me that today his film ‘JaaniDushman’ is running successfully in television. And so a film can give you so much more, because the love that audience has for the actor is not only box-office. Today, there are many actors who are seen only on digital and still have a fan-base. Actor’s job is to give you a content that we think will work, whether you consume the same on television, digital medium or on big-screen. I still remember, one day I was in a lift of a building and watchman of it was listening to my song from ‘MeriPyaariBindu’. At first I thought he is trying to impress me, but then I realize that he had no idea that I was in the lift. This real-life instance keeps confirming that though box-office is equally important for an actor, but your content can be consumed in many different ways. Another film of mine is ‘Daawat-e-Ishq’ which did very average business in box-office, but running successful in satellite. So if you are lucky than your film works at box-office, and if not than will work at satellite. However, if it’s a very terrible film than will not work at anywhere and you will learn from the experience.
What’s happening on your singing front-side?
Yes, I have recorded a song for my single. However, some issues came up with that song earlier and so we couldn’t release it when I wanted to. But now we are back on track and now I have done even better thing that just recording a single.
Do historical dramas attract you? And what real-life historical character you would like to play on-screen if given a chance?
More than historical, I really like that real-life element. Whenever it’s a real-life story running somewhere, I genuinely watch it because I am keen to know how the makers have dramatized that person’s life that you might not have actually seen. So that’s a little nerdy aspect but I am very much curious about that. And a character that I would love to play on-screen would be of like Kalpana Chawla or somebody like Mother Teresa or even someone like Miss India. This is actually something I have thought now, but will think about it precisely later on. But I would love to do real-life characters if given a chance.
As the digital medium is growing rapidly, so have you planned to get featured in this space? Or have you been offered with anything related to that?
I was offered with 3-4 shows, which were good and attracted me, but a good film comes to me whenever I was about to confirm it. So it keeps getting derailed, but I have many things right now in front me which I have not confirmed yet. However, my first priority is films right now because a lot of exciting films are being made in the industry. And thankfully good films are coming to me, despite my last film didn’t do well.
Talking about digital medium, kindly share some of your favourite shows from that?
I actually watch a lot of American shows and very few Indian shows. I am a varied person and so it depends on my mood basically. Sometime I watch episodes of Friends, and sometime I watch Mind Hunter. Sometimes I watch a Spanish show and sometime I watch Narcos. However, sometime I also watch a silly show like 13 Reasons. It depends on my mood, but rest assured I watch everything. I am binge-watcher actually, and also a person who waits for a show to complete first and then move on to next. I recently watched a Spanish film, Invisible Guest, which I loved it to the core. Further, I am also a crime-thriller person and have likes of ‘How To Get Away With Murder’ and ‘Ozark’.
Your next film coming up is SandeepAur Pinky Faraar, so how was your working experience with Arjun Kapoor again and also with director Dibakar Banerjee?
Sandeep Aur Pinky Faraar was very intense on us both, me and Arjun (Kapoor). Though Namaste London was fun to shoot, but this one was like Ishaqzaade. During the shoot, every day I was bruised and hurt. Dibakar sir is a method director and so he wanted us to feel that real pain that we were feeling on-screen for our characters. Though it was a hardcore one, but eventually I come out with a very satisfaction feeling with such films. However, my next three films which I am going to soon announce will have more prep-work in it. I am really scared with that, but let’s hope for the best.
Apart from shooting films, what you do in your free time?
I travel a lot and like to be out of the city almost all the time. I am in Mumbai whenever I need to be, and the moment I don’t need to be here, I am for sure out of the city. Also I have kept a bucket-list in my head where I need to visit and explore at least five new countries every year.
Any favourite holiday spots that you would like to share?
A person who likes to travel a lot can never choose a favorite, because it’s like something choosing your favorite song, book, or movie. However, I love all islands but I scuba-dive a lot.
How do you balance your professional and personal life?
It’s actually one of the things that I have learnt from my film’s failures. And the learning is that the bigger understanding of the kind of life that I want to live, which is a great balance personal and professional. Everybody says it, but nobody does it. Everybody chooses one, either personal life or professional life, but decided to choose both, and I actively give importance to both. My manager get frustrate sometime and tells me that I can’t take holiday now because I took one just 3-montsh back. But still I decide to go for a 2-day holiday and it’s non-negotiable. And so I will go with my family, will take care of my love life, and will equally take care of my professional life. It is one life and one person, and so wanted to do all these three things. I will make time for my family, love-life, myself and everything. I don’t want to blame my career for a sub-standard life. There can’t be any regrets in my life, and that’s the key to happiness. I have to do everything as and when I feel it.
Apart from acting and singing, do you want to explore other areas also like writing or directing a movie?
I don’t think so, as acting and singing are only field I am passionate about today and can explore much more into that. Anything apart from these two is like a too difficult job for me. Actually it has to be done by the people who are passionate about it. However, 5-years from now if I actually learn so much about films that I can produce or direct, then I will do it.
Your sister Priyanka Chopra got married recently, so when’s your turn next?
Not anytime soon, and it will only happen when I am ready for it. Further, Mimi Didi (Priyanka Chopra) got married in the age of her 36-year-old and I am quite young with respect to that. Our family or Chopras is a very cool one, where it’s all about achievers andeverybody in our family love their work. However, even my eldest cousin is not married and in fact Mimi Didi was the first girl in our eldest sister’s group to get married. I have 14 cousins, and only 2 are married now, and all of us are above 30+ in age. Also, our own parents tell us that marriage is not that most important thing, but finding the correct person is the one. Do whatever you want like travel with them or live with them, but find the correct person first. Later on if you want to get married then do it, but just be happy with the guy you want to spend your entire life with. And that’s the more important thing that our family teaches our children. Don’t come under pressure that you have to get married now. Find the right person who is not going to cheat on you, going to be loyal with you, and going to keep you happy. If at 50 you feel that now you want to get married then do it, otherwise don’t get married. Just have the right person beside you, because a lot of people are married and not happy with their respective partners. So how does a marriage decide happiness? Our family wants us to be happy and successful, and marriage doesn’t fit anywhere in these two things. But one day if I find the right person, then I will be first person to take that decision of getting married, because I love the idea of marriage rituals.