The effervescent and talented Parineeti Chopra confesses to being a bundle of nerves as her fourth film Hasee Toh Phasee hits the marquee
There’s something about Parineeti Chopra that made cinegoers and the film industry take to her instantly. At first glance, she doesn’t seem to fit into the quintessential Hindi film heroine mould, but her effervescent personality has comfortably placed her among the top leading ladies of Hindi cinema. And she is only three films old. It’s sheer talent that has prevented Parineeti from being eclipsed by her more glamourous cousin, Priyanka Chopra. Film stalwarts, too, single her out for being a naturale in front of the camera. With her fourth venture Hasee Toh Phasee, a co-production of Phantom Films, and Dharma Productions, hitting the theatres, the actress admits to being in a happy place, and yet wracked with fears of her surviving in the industry. Amidst a day of hectic promotional activities, she grabs a few moments of peace by settling down by the window, resting a cushion on her lap and enjoying the view of the Bandra-Worli Sea Link. Dressed in a casual pink top and blue denims, Chopra talks about her latest film, among other things in a freewheeling chat with Screen. Excerpts:
Karan Johar stated that Hasee Toh Phasee shouldn’t be slotted as a rom-com. Do you feel the same?
It’s a love story, but not the usual romantic comedy. It’s literally a story of two characters. If I had to interpret the film, I would do so based on the flavour of the film more than its genre. The flavour of the film is really fun and sweet. It’s a crazy film, totally living up to the tagline — ‘Love goes cucking frazy’, more so because the girl (Meeta) is really crazy, and the guy (Nikhil), a loser. We should not limit the film by putting it into one particular genre, because it doesn’t fit into any.
The character that you play in the film is rather quirky. Did you have any reference point to get into that mode?
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I’m an enthusiastic person in life, but I don’t think I have quirks, and so I had to work on that aspect. We have mentally challenged people and we have people who are stricken by some kind of illness, but that’s not the case with Meeta. She just doesn’t talk like normal people. So, one can never really have a reference point for someone as crazy as the character that I play in the film. We had to find those quirks. For instance, we incorporated things like — Meeta will always look wide-eyed, never blink and have her tongue sticking out of her mouth. She’ll always keep tapping on something or the other. The thing is when you see Meeta, you instantly realise that something is wrong with her!
As an actor, how important is it for you to go through workshops before a film?
Workshops are important for me to become that character, otherwise it’s my personality that will leak into every character. Workshops also help you to gel with your co-actor, your director and your team. For example, for Hasee…, Sid (Sidharth Malhotra) and I didn’t know each other very well initially. If you want the romance to be successful on screen, it’s important to get the comfort level right as you have to hug each other and sometimes get physically intimate. Even if I am doing a scene, where I need to slap someone, I should be able to do it with ease. Having said that, I’m quite a switch-on switch-off kind of actress — my characters stay with me till I’m on the set.
What else do you look out for when giving the nod to a film?
Talent aside, I can’t work with people who I don’t feel comfortable with. The kind of person I am, I need to be happy. I need to bond with people and joke around. I’m a friendly person, so when I don’t get along with someone, I find it hard to work with them. I’d be constantly bothered about it. I also need to work with a director, who loves me, who I know will treat me with care, and thinks I’m important to the film, as an actor, and as a person.
Has your confidence level gone up as an actor with each film?
In my case, I feel that with each film, I get a little nervous. When it’s just your first or second film, there’s no scope for repetition because there’s so much less work you’ve done. There’s no image or fans to pander to. Now, all that is at stake. I have a lot to lose. Every time I work now, I hope I don’t lose out on the audience that appreciates my work or lose out on good reviews or at the box-office.
Is the pressure of expectations from you as an actor getting to you?
There’s no pressure as such, but there’s just a constant expectation which I have from my own self to do good work. I have a greed for appreciation for anything I do. It could be performance, looks, anything. I constantly ask people and seek appreciation. So, if I’ve got it in such a big way and in such a little time, then I don’t want to lose it. I hope people say that she’s very good to every performance of mine. I hope I never get a bad review. I know it’s going to happen, one day or the other, and I will be bad in some film, but just the thought of it happening makes me cry.
What else has changed for since your first film?
Technically, I know things have got better. I understand shot-taking, camera movements, I understand lighting a little better, so I can use them in my performance to reduce the number of takes. I’ve found a way to be slightly more efficient, by understanding various technical aspects of a film. But there are times, when I also feel that I’m just an actor, so may be I should only concentrate on my performance.
Contrary to the fear of losing what you’ve got, you exude an air of confidence.
I am a very secure person in my head, and people close to me really appreciate that about me. Things that other people do don’t really affect me, I don’t care. I just care about my work, my team and the people I meet. I carry that in my work too.
Have you always been influenced by Hindi cinema in your growing up years?
I never used to watch too many films. I was very studious as a student and boring. I didn’t participate in extra-curricular activities too. But I did watch a few films that made an impression on me. I used to only watch those typical films of the ’90s, like say Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge. Till today, I enjoy watching that genre of romance in films — in English and Hindi as well. However, my first three films were hardly rom-coms. It was a professional decision as I thought I didn’t want to limit myself to only quintessential rom-coms. I knew that the films I did were right for me. I enjoyed reading them on paper, and I enjoyed doing them. Whatever I am today is because of those films. Hasee Toh Phasee is, in fact, my first easy-to-the-eye, simple film.
So, what kind of films do you want to be a part of in the future?
I don’t think like that. I’m literally living every day as it comes. I live for the moment. I don’t think about the films I want to do.
The year looks interesting for you as you have films like Daawat-E-Ishq and Kill Dil coming up. Tell us something about them.
I’m not allowed to talk much on those two films. But I play a Hyderabadi girl in Daawat-E-Ishq, the shooting of which is almost coming to an end now. It’s shot in Lucknow and is a cool film with a cool title. I haven’t yet started shooting for Kill Dil, but the boys (Govinda, Ranveer Singh and Ali Zafar) are already at work on it. They are waiting for me to finish Daawat… so that I can join them. I can’t wait to begin shooting for it!