Perhaps, it had something to do with her 'freshly scrubbed looks', or an innocence that sweetened the whole idea behind eating and selling chocolate. For viewers, she was the free-spirited, cute-girl-next-door that everyone wanted in their lives — virtues they aspired for themselves, but almost always fell short of. And while her dazzling smile, that sunk deep into the corners of her mouth propelled her to instant stardom, she was quick to realise that the longevity of her fame was dependent on how well she treaded the Indian film industry.
And while she did make her share of mistakes, she remained smart enough to never repeat them — she exercised care when she chose her directors, and caution, when it came to her co-stars. It was a strategy that worked for her, even when some of her films didn't. It also helped her gain entry into a 'coterie' that is at the moment, considered the most powerful in Bollywood. It has worked for her tremendously in recent times, starting with the urbane-chic, Dil Chahta Hai, to the sci-fi Koi Mil Gaya which raked in a fortune at the box-office. Then came the saccharine-topped, romantic tearjerker, Kal Ho Na Ho, a movie that has also became one of the biggest catch phrases of all times. And if that was not enough, Veer-Zaara, her latest release, a saga of cross-border romance has elicited a huge response from cine-goers, both in India and abroad. This must truly be the golden phase in her career, and she knows it because she's not sitting on her laurels, instead, she is strapping the globe, as an integral character of a world tour. Now in Dubai, the actress took some time off to make a special appearance at Plaza Cinema. City Times was at hand to ask her a few questions.
Your character in Veer-Zaara is so removed from the type of roles that you have essayed in the recent past? How difficult was the entire experience of playing a girl from Pakistan, considering that you have always lived on the other side of the border?
It's good to do something different and I think it is a great honour to work with Yash Chopra. It's fabulous to see this film crossing boundaries. The film is giving us the opportunity to bridge the boundaries between India and Pakistan and it's really nice. The film speaks about the thought of today — about taking a step. It is a film that is entertaining and progressive.
Every film that you have done in the recent past has worked wonders at the box office? As an actress have you discovered the pulse of the audience?
I have just been very lucky you know and God has been very kind. I have got to work with good filmmakers, good co-stars and fantastic scripts.
After the recent bomb attack at your show in Sri Lanka, are you even slightly apprehensive about performing in front of huge crowds? How has the entire incident affected you pyschologically?
Well, we got a very warm reception in Colombo from the people and I believe people blend better than governments, so I don't blame anyone for it. But yes, I mean I was standing in left wing of the stage when the bomb went off. I think, I may have been about five metres away and I didn't think I would be standing here today. So, yes I got a little scared. There is a saying in Hindi, 'Marne wale se, Bachane wala bada hota' (Greater than the killer is the saviour). So I guess when your time comes it just comes.
In the Indian film industry while the heroes come with an extended expiry date, heroines, no matter their popularity, seem to fade into oblivion sooner or later? As a professional where do you see youself in say the next ten years?
My future is very bright and the sun is shining very brightly. I am not the kind of person who thinks 20 years in advance. As of now, things are great and I am happy with the way things are.
Of date which has been the most challenging role that you have played?
Veer-Zaara has been my most challenging role to date.
At one point of time Preity Zinta's personal life used to be fodder for the tabloids. Not anymore?
Thank God! I am tired of wrong news coming out and I've gone out of my way to keep an extremely low profile. So I am very happy if you don't see me in the tabloids. Mission accomplished!
Aren't you tired of all the travelling that you've done recently?
No, I will never be tired of it. This has been one of my best world tours and I don't think I've had more fun on any other tour. I don't think any other actor has had the privilege of working with such amazing co-stars — Arjun, Saif, Priyanka, Rani and Shah Rukh, of course, whose absolutely brilliant. I think all of us are a great mix together and we've had a great time and we have worked hard and partied harder.
Could you tell us about the projects that you are working on right now?
Future projects include a film with Karan Johar and stars Shah Rukh, Rani, Abhishek and me. And there's a film with Yash Raj Films. It has a new director called Siddhanth and it has Saif Ali Khan co-starring with me.
What is Dubai besides the world tour and the promotion?
Dubai is a wonderful place and I love coming here. I have been here once or twice before. We did a show here last time and it was wonderful. The people were warm and the hotel we stayed in was great. So was the shopping. It feels nice to be here.
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