All heads turn when she enters the room, marching to the beat of her own. No points for guessing that I am talking about Bollywood’s dusky diva – Priyanka Chopra. Though the actress is currently a tad busy promoting her upcoming film Mary Kom, we managed to pin her down for a quick tête-à-tête. Excerpts:
Team MissMalini (Team MM): What kind of response are you expecting for Mary Kom?
Priyanka Chopra (PC): Frankly, I am not expecting anything. I never expect anything from any of my movies. They say that man proposes and God disposes. I believe in destiny. I also believe in hard work. So I do the best I can, then wait for things to pan out the way they are supposed to. Of course, I want people to love my work and enjoy the film. This movie was extremely inspiring to me personally. I hope that’s what happens to the audience too when they watch it.
Team MM: You are going all out to promote the film…
PC: Yes, because I am the only known face in the movie. The poster features just me! If I don’t promote the film wholeheartedly then how will people come to know about it? I am really scared. I am not confident at all. I hope my presence is enough for people to watch this movie. I promote all my films regardless of whether they do well or not. When I sign a project, I give my heart and soul to each of them. None of them get more or less from me. I also enjoy talking about the entire process that went behind the scenes while doing the movie. So I always promote my films.
Team MM: Weren’t you slightly reluctant about doing this movie considering it’s helmed by debutant director Umang Kumar?
PC: Oh, not at all! I’ve worked with several first time directors like Nikhil Advani, Tarun Mansukhani and many others in the past too. Having said that, it won’t be fair to Umang if we say that this movie is solely riding on his shoulders. This project wouldn’t have happened without our writer. Our country gives very little respect and salary to writers. Our writer (Saiwyn Quadras) approached Umang with this beautiful story. And I decided to do this movie based on its script. Plus, it’s produced by Sanjay Leela Bhansali and I am a huge fan of his. So I agreed to do the film (smiles). I am glad I did because Mary herself cried after watching it and that means a lot to me.
Team MM: You’ve always been a fit actress. But how strenuous was it to up your fitness quotient to an altogether different level and look like Mary, who’s an athlete?
PC: As an actress, I should work out regularly but I don’t. I am very lazy. I look fit and athletic because I am genetically like that. But I had to hit he gym everyday for this movie. Fitness is totally different from the lifestyle of an athlete. It’s a religion! The break their bodies at the gym for three hours everyday. For me, getting into this zone was almost a spiritual experience. I was playing something in front of the camera that I will never be in real life. So I was cherishing the feeling. But at the same time, I hated going to the gym and I wanted to kill my trainer! And talking about my on-screen look, I wanted to kill the make-up artist too who had tried to make me look like Mary by giving me prosthetics. I hated it! So we decided to do away from it.
Team MM: You also had to learn boxing. So did you manage to become a pro at it?
PC: Well, I don’t know if I will be able to hit my opponent and score but if you put me into a boxing ring, I will play the sport. I know the rules, the postures and the right footwork. I didn’t have to act like a boxer. I had to become one. I had to shoot with real boxers as my opponents and I ended up getting badly injured many times.
Team MM: It’s not often that we see an actress playing the title role in a Bollywood film and a non-established actor cast opposite her. It’s usually the opposite. What’s your take on that?
PC: We live in world which is dominated by males. It’s not just about our country or industry. Hero-worshipping happens in Hollywood too. Thankfully, things are changing. After the days of Madhuri Dixit and Sridevi, now finally actresses are also getting roles which are more than or equal to their male counterparts. You might love Ranbir Kapoor in Barfi! but you cannot ignore Ileana (D’Cruz) and me in the movie! It is my film too. What Katrina (Kaif) did in Rajneeti, what Deepika (Padukone) did in Chennai Express and Alia (Bhatt) did in 2 States, it cannot be overlooked! But at the same time, I can’t take any credit for my role in Krrish 3, I was a supporting actor in the movie. So just like us actresses have supported our heroes in big budget films, gradually there are also movies being made where the actress is playing the lead and a guy is supporting her. More movies like Queen, Mardaani and Kahaani need to be made and you guys need to stop addressing our films as woman-centric. Do we ever call a film male-centric? No, na? But to be able to do a Mary Kom as an actress I also have to keep doing films like Krrish 3 because I need to make myself commercially viable.
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