‘I am a Punjabi but not as aggressive’

True talent is never ignored in Bollywood just like true lack of talent is often harshly rubbished. And Parineeti Chopra has to be the best example to second this fact. Her short yet memorable supporting role in 'Ladies Vs Ricky Bahl' was enough to prove her might and her bubbly, naïve and selfish brat image ensured she shined above her co-actors and even the lead cast to make for a memorable debut. So it's no wonder that YRF has signed her up for a 3 movie-deal with her latest film being Ishaqzaade', directed by 'Do Dooni Char' director Habib Faisal. 'Ishaqzaade' promises to give her a strong foothold into the industry apart from establishing her as an actress of substance. Over a candid chat with Kunal Guha, the motor-mouth actress tells us about the joys of being the lead in a Yash Raj film and how fame and fortune haven't changed her one bit.

From a supporting role in 'Ladies Vs Ricky Bahl' to the lead in the latest Yash Raj film, have any myths about the industry broken for you?

The biggest myth that was broken was in my head because I never had any respect for the profession of acting. I used to hate acting. Even though I have a sister in Bollywood, I always told her that I don't understand what you do and I hate what you do and she used to get pissed off and say that if you ever become an actress, you will understand what I do. And when I started working with Yash Raj in the marketing department, I realized that what they do is what I want to do and I like this and maybe I can even do this well.

How did you convince your parents about a career change from marketing films to acting in them?
When I went back to Ambala to tell my parents that I am getting into acting and that I've already got an offer from Yash Raj for 3 films, they had no problems. Parents generally have a fear that 'baby industry mein ja rahi hain, I hope nothing wrong happens to her' but because I was working with YRF, they said you will be taken care off. Plus didi (Priyanka Chopra) is there. If anything wrong happens, didi is always there for me.

Since it's fair to say that you've recently tasted stardom, how has life changed? Also have you changed in anyway?
I've not changed.From a 22 year child; I have become a slightly mature version of myself. I am still a child on the outside. With this job, comes a little bit of responsibility. I still like to do the things that I've always liked to do and I will never change that. I think I was a very impulsive person and now I am a slightly less impulsive. How has life changed — I always have people around me to take care of everything. Be it- the clothes I wear or the things I do or the people I met. There's always someone to monitor everything. As an actor, you get a bit spoilt knowing that people will keep a check on things.

If there's always someone to do everything for you, can it make you empty or hollow, being led into a cushy life?
I am not a spoilt person and have always been an independent person. I know that I can manage without anyone around me. Sometimes I am even told off for being over involved as I love being involved in everything. So I can never be lazy. I am lazy when I am sitting at home and watching TV but that's the only time.

What excited you about 'Ishaqzaade' when the role was offered to you? Why did you think that you'd do a good job of it?

I don't think I got a chance to read the script and go home and think about whether I would want to do the role. This is because I was just working on 'Ricky Bahl' when Habib sir (Director Habib Faisal) told me that he was making a film and he wanted me to audition for it. And when I read the script, I immediately got into the audition process because I knew it was a film I didn't want to miss. And why I thought I would be good in the role is because Adi (Aditya Chopra) and Habib sir thought I would be good in it. That gave me so much confidence that I said, I am going to do it.

You play the character of a feisty small town brat called Zoya in this film. So did you identify with her and how were you different from her?

At no level do I identify with her and that was the challenge in playing the role because I am nothing like Zoya in real life. May be the energy is the same since she's a ferocious girl and I am a very energetic girl but the similarity ends there. I am exactly the opposite. She's from a small town and I am also from Ambala, was born and brought up there. But then she roams around with a gun and she talks very badly, 'hamesha gaali galoch' etc.

And you always refrain from verbally abusing anyone?
I mean I can abuse because I am Punjabi but I wouldn't abuse for the fun of it and it's not part of my language. She (her character in the film) is also very raw and aggressive and I am Punjabi but I am not as aggressive.

How would you define the film since the trailers hardly explain the genre too well?
It's not a romantic story, it's a love story and hence the title. 'Ishaqzaade' are people who can do or die in love, people who are absolutely and irrationally in love. The film is about this couple, Karma and Zoya who, from the day they're born, have been taught to hate each other. And their hatred is 'be intehaan nafrat' which is irrational hatred. But there's a moment that comes in their life when they realize they're just like each other and they fall in love. And since its set in a small-town, relationships there are way different from how they are in larger towns. So the film is about what happens when two people who hate each other a lot, fall in love.

How is a love story different from a romantic one?
Romance comes with all the clichés: boy and girl fall in love, get married, it's all beautiful and mush. But here you have two animals who don't love each other in the clichéd way. You might have seen in the trailer, there's a scene where he wants to touch my face and I tell him that "Main goli maar dungi!" Then there's a scene where he behaves very badly with her and flings her against the wall but then he says, "Mereko tere se ishaq ho gaya hain." And if I say 'I love you' to him and he doesn't say it back, I slap him. It's absolutely mad fiery love. It's not romance, like let's sing a song together.

What were the challenges in essaying your character in the film?
There were only challenges (laughs). The biggest challenge was to physically transform myself to become Zoya and by that I don't mean that I have to lose weight and look pretty. Habib sir didn't say that he wants to put me in a bikini and make me look hot. He wanted me to transform from the pudgy, overweight Dimple (her character in 'Ladies Vs Ricky Bahl') to this firebrand Zoya. He wanted me to be really strong and my core to be really strengthened. He wanted me to have the body language of a fit 22 year old. We went to Deepesh for crossfit. We did weight training and I did core strengthening workshops. Then we got into the creative aspect, where we would act out scenes together. Habib sir took us to Luknow to prepare for the role. He wanted us to see how people sit, walk and sleep and that really got us into the film.

Apart from the physical transformation, were you required to mentally or psychologically absorb Zoya into your being?
I don't think like Zoya. But it is imperative that I do and it was imperative that I approach a scene in a way that I was living her life. If she holds the gun in a certain way, I had to do it instinctively like that and not as an actor. I had to become her. Habib sir would explain everything, why were doing something in a certain way or speaking in a certain way and since he answered my million questions, it really got a lot of clarity about how I was supposed to be.

We've heard that you've learnt to fire a riffle in this film. What were the other interesting learnings from this film?
I learnt a lot in the film. I've not grown up with guns in our pockets. I learnt to drive a jeep (which is very different from driving a car) and a heavy bike like a Yezdi. Then I learnt how to climb a drain pipe then how to jump off jeeps and staircases etc.

Were there any calamities or unforeseen accidents during the shoots?
We used to get hurt everyday. I always had cuts and I was always bleeding. But nothing was drastic enough to delay or stop the shoots.

What are the perks of being a part of a Yash Raj film and what are the limitations?
There are no limitations and only perks. Everyone dreams of working in a YRF film and I think I've been very lucky to have got this chance.