Every time there is an interview with Parineeti Chopra before the release of a film, the venue — almost always the Yash Raj Films (YRF) office — serves as a reminder of her rise to stardom. Five years ago, working as a marketing intern for the production house, Chopra would do what their team of publicists do today, run up and down the corridors, helping coordinate interviews with stars.
Today, having switched sides, she sits in the comfortable confines of a conference room, talking to the media about her latest release, Daawat-e-Ishq, even as a mini-entourage fusses over her. However, her ex-colleagues say she has changed very little in spite of the success.
“Can you keep a knife next to me so that I can use it the next time a reporter calls me bubbly?” she asks one of her former colleagues. While this gives a glimpse of her spirited self, it also shows that her camaraderie with her earlier associates is unlike that of a star, “I am not the typical Bollywood actress,” she says, “You won’t see me at parties and screenings very much. If it’s 10 pm, I might be at home, asleep.”
The spontaneity one has come to associate with Chopra’s on-screen performances, she explains, stems from the fact that she doesn’t try too hard. The seductive world of glamour is irresistible, but she has a life outside the film industry, she says. Acting is a career just as her high-paying banking job earlier was. “In fact, I was more attached to banking,” says Chopra, who passed out from Manchester Business School, UK.
“I have a fairly disciplined life and don’t have a great attachment to this profession. I absolutely love performing in front of the camera, I think it’s the greatest high one can get if you love it, but the day it doesn’t work for me, I’ll do something else. I have my degrees and other passions to fall back on,” she says.
In her brief career, Chopra hasn’t taken a wrong step yet. Ever since she made her debut with a scene-stealing performance in Ladies Vs Ricky Bahl (2011), she emerged as an impressive new talent as well as a top contender for the part of a leading lady. At a time when being the hero’s arm candy in a mass entertainer warrants an entry into the Rs 100 crore club, she has stuck to her guns doing complex, solid woman characters. “I want to be the best actress,” she says, “Not heroine. I want every director and viewer to have the confidence that I’ll be able to pull off any role.” After Daawat-e-Ishq, Chopra has Shaad Ali’s Kill Dil in November and Dinesh Vijan’s film opposite Saif Ali Khan next year.
For an actor who says that she doesn’t watch too many films — studies took precedence and cinema was considered a waste of time in her formative years — it is interesting to find out the method behind her acting.
“I am spontaneous by preparation,” she says, “I try and become the character before I reach the sets. I pick up the body language, voice, expressions of the character; they are in my head but I don’t rehearse the scenes. Instead, I directly face the camera,” says the 26-year-old who was born and raised in Ambala, Haryana.
After a slew of intense portrayals, Chopra’s next is a romcom where she essays the role of a middle-class Hyderabadi shoe salesgirl in love with food. She says she signed up for Daawat-e-Ishq because unlike her earlier films — Ishaqzaade (2012) on honour killings, Shuddh Desi Romance (2013) based on the commitment phobia that today’s youth experience, and Hasee Toh Phasee (2014) where she plays a social misfit — this film gave her the chance to do a “breezy and happy” romance without any “issues”. The film releases next Friday.
About a month ago, at the promo launch of the film, in which she will be seen opposite Aditya Roy Kapoor, Chopra sang a couple of lines from one of the film’s songs. She sounded more in tune than many of her contemporaries’ recent attempts at singing. Given the fad of actors turning into singers to garner publicity for their films, Chopra hasn’t sung in her latest venture. Despite a degree in music, she is in no mood to join the bandwagon. “I’ll do it when the right time comes. I don’t think I’ll need autotune to do that,” she adds.