Bollywood and a star is born
By Khalid Mohamed
Friday, June 08, 2012

Parineeti Chopra has made everyone sit up and take note with her powerhouse performances in Ladies vs Vicky Bahl and Ishaqzaade: this girl’s in it for the long run

Just yesterday, she was chasing journos in her capacity as a publicist in the public relations department of Yash Raj Films. Today, in a reversal 
of fortunes, journos are chasing her for interviews, TV bytes and photo sessions. And when she attended Karan Johar’s splashy birthday do on May 25 with the Yash Raj scion Uday Chopra, the 23-year-old actress enticed tongues to wag instantaneously.

Are Uday and Parineeti Chopra dating? Are they into a ‘serious relationship’? Or was it just another photo-op for the paparazzi? Never mind the rumours actually. Because here’s a truly gifted girl who grabbed all the Best Newcomer awards with her performance in Ladies vs Ricky Bahl last year, and is sure to figure during the next award season in the nominations for the Best Actress category for her excellent portrayal in Ishaqzaade, opposite debutant Arjun Kapoor.

She was absolutely convincing as an independent-minded Muslim girl, Zoya Qureshi, who succumbs to the cunning tactics of a boy from a rival feuding family. There were shades of Romeo and Juliet in the screenplay. A natural-born artiste, Parineeti Chopra could alternately convey the vulnerability as well as the steely resolve of a young woman pressured by her orthodox family. It’s the kind of refreshing performance which reminds me of the impact made by Kajol and Karisma Kapoor in their debuts in Bekhudi and Prem Qaidi respectively.

Am I over-praising Parineeti Chopra? After all, she isn’t exactly in the drop-dead gorgeous league of her real-life cousin Priyanka Chopra. Neither is she likely to reaffirm her acting calibre in a range of varied performances since she is constrained by her three-film contract with Yash Raj. That prevents her from taking on roles from other production companies at this key juncture of her career. In fact, currently on her plate there’s only an untitled project being produced by Yash Raj directed by Pradeep Sarkar.

After the successful Parineeta, the director’s track record is marred by duds Laaga Chunari Mein Daag and Lafangey Parindey — which were setbacks for their heroines Rani Mukherjee and Deepika Padukone.

Parineeti’s other film in the works, Ek Vanilla Do Paraathe, isn’t exactly an appetising title. Little is heard about its progress. In the event, the actress’ future does appear to be a bit cloudy. But hang on, if her mentor Aditya Chopra can make an A-lister out of his earlier discovery Anushka Sharma, why not Parineeti, who certainly seems to be a superior actress?

Moreover, there’s a chronic shortage of actresses who are more than camera-friendly glamorous faces. At the outset of the year, Vidya Balan was rated as the sole actress of substance. She has serious competition now from the Ishaqzaade girl, who’s younger than The Dirty Picture heroine by 11 years. And like it or not, Bollywood has always voted for the youth quotient.

Showbiz trade is hesitant to feature married actresses in big-budget productions, convinced that their fan following dips drastically. Konkona Sen Sharma has hardly been seen after her marriage to Ranvir Sheorey. Kareena Kapoor is scheduled to marry Saif Ali Khan. And Vidya Balan’s yearlong liaison with the UTV film corporation honcho Siddharth Roy Kapoor could end her singleton status. Result: Katrina Kaif, Deepika Padukone, Priyanka Chopra and now Parineeti are the preferred options.

For sure, the Ishaqzaade heroine is aware that to hold on to success is akin to making the right moves on a chessboard. Fame can be attained overnight. Ditto failure.

Her film career has been a story of luck by chance. After a management degree from Manchester Business School, the Ambala-born girl returned to India, since she couldn’t land a job in recession-ravaged in Europe. She thought she would try to be a singer since she is a pretty competent singer. Not easy. The PR job was a start.

Next: during the casting of Ladies 
vs Ricky Bahl, she auditioned for a lark. And that was it.

Both Priyanka and Parineeti Chopra have made politically correct remarks about how they adore each other. “Priyanka has encouraged at me every step,” goes the diplomatic mantra. Clearly, the newcomer has to make the right statement at the right place and at the right time.

Yet something tells me the brand-new heroine on the block won’t have to do that for long. She has the killer instinct, which she camouflages by saying, “If I am thrown out of the film industry, I can become a singer.” Come on now, quit the modesty. Parineeti’s native intelligence should tell her she is in the Bollywood elite club to stay.

(The writer has been reviewing Bollywood for decades, has scripted three films and directed three others.)









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