It’s delightful to watch her speak. Words flow out of her mouth in a clear and precise manner. Novel expressions cut through her face and capture the nuances, which may have been lost in plain speech. Changing moods flow out naturally through her uninhibited body language. Clearly, Preity Zinta relishes the task of talking and how.
You’re always talking about how your friends are from outside the industry, how you’re the “outsider.” What are the advantages and disadvantages of that position?
One big advantage is there is no camp system for me. I work with people on an individual level. A bond forms when I work with them but that’s about it. I don’t fall within the trappings of the industry norms.
Among the disadvantages, the biggest is that I don’t know 99 percent of the old Hindi films. Like I haven’t seen the classics and Karan (Johar) keeps telling me, “Preity, man, you should be ashamed of yourself.” And I am like, “Oh sorry.”
Ninety percent of today’s actors are from film families. They’ve all grown up seeing this actor, this director, and this producer so they’re on “uncle” terms with them. The only person I call Uncle is Yash Johar because I cannot call him Mr Johar. Since Karan is my contemporary, I call him Yash uncle out of respect. Also, I find “Yashji” a bit fake.
I only get to know producers or directors if I’m approached for a film. I’ve kept away from things like call this director, lap him up, say that I’d love to work with you, you know, do that whole number. I don’t have that familiarity.
Is it tough maintaining close friendships in the industry?
I think the scope, magnitude, and canvas of friendship is huge. From being sensitive to each other to being there for every major decision, that’s friendship. I don’t expect my directors and co-stars to be with me through thick and thin because that’s the job of my best friend. We have a very cordial relationship; we share the normal intricacies of life. I am sensitive sometimes when I know that somebody is going through a low phase. We are good friends, we’ll hang around, go out together, have a meal, do stuff, but I won’t say we’re best friends. That would be lying.
What insecurities do you have?
My insecurities are very small. Like, “Oh God, I am doing a song and I’ve got this big pimple on my nose and it will show in the close ups! Or, I have put on weight, and now this dress is going to be tight, what do I do!” Beyond that, I don’t even venture in that area. I’m not that kind of person who thinks ke aisa kyun hai. I think, the fact I’ve managed to get where I have, with no film backing, gives me immense confidence. If I could make it this far, I don’t think I need to worry.
Tabu once said that the industry is unfair to actresses—that they’re not paid as well as the heroes. Would you agree?
It’s a male-dominated industry and a male-dominated world. Women all over the world complain that men are given more rights. But it’s something I just accept though I think women work harder. An eight-hour shift is a 10-hour or 11-hour shift for us heroines because we have to come two hours earlier to do our make-up and get dressed. Heroes come, brush their hair, aur pahunch jaate hain set pe. We come, wig lagao, look karo, sari pehno, wear a ghagra with 330 kilos of jewelry and then die in the heat.
But I love every aspect of being a woman. So I don’t complain. I’ve grown up as a tomboy, you know. Earlier on, I used to hate dressing up. But now, I’m enjoying myself. It’s different. Haan, if my accessories hurt or irritate me, I hate it.
Also, one should look at things positively. Look, a hero is supposed to look after his family; he has a wife, kids, and parents. So that money is being divided between three or four people. I don’t have anybody and if I get married to a man and he says, take care of me and my children, I will give him one tight slap. So, technically, I’m being paid more than the guy because there’s only one of me to look after. That’s as positive as I can get. Hey, that’s very good logic. Nobody would have given you this one. Ha ha!
How important is it to be vain in this profession?
It is good to be vain but your whole existence can’t be starting with a “v” and ending with a “y”. Life cannot be led between the lines of vanity but at the same time, this is a profession where if you don’t look good and aren’t vain, the critics and audience will say, “She’s so ugly, look at her hair, clothes, nails, she’s so fat.” If you take care of it all and are vain, then they’ll say, “Oh, she is so vain.” So it’s a Catch-22 situation.
I am vain to some extent. And then I’m not. When I am acting, yes, if I have a big pimple on my face, the only thing I’ll be thinking is, “Why has it come, why has it come?” But, when I am not acting, I don’t care. I’ll hang around without make-up. I don’t need to dress to death and come out all dolled up and say, “Honeyyy, I’ve arrived!”
Still, I have my own vanity. Like every woman and every man has. An ugly person will have some vanity and the most gorgeous person will have some vanity. The most amazing person will have humbleness and the most terrible person will have some humbleness. So there’s a ratio of everything in everybody’s personality. I would be lying if I said I am not vain. Everybody is.
Is perfection boring?
Yes, sometimes perfection kills you. I’d get bored if everything was perfect in my life. And I get bored very fast. I need instant stimulation, new challenges, new avenues, a new beginning every time. If I get on one path and reach the door to success, I need another door to open for me. I can’t sit there and say, “Oh, I’ve done it, I’ve done it. Wow, I’m the rock star, the superstar. I’m it.” Even if I have to boast, I would be sick of boasting, you know.
On the other hand, I might start gritting my teeth and ask myself, “Why is it not happening? Why is it not cracking? I am going to make it happen. There is nothing in this world that I cannot do if I put my mind to it.” I will go nuts over it and then suddenly things will go right and it will happen. Then I’ll say, “Oh that’s all it took. Now what?”
If I want to get that one thing, I’ll cross the seven seas to obtain it. I’ll apply myself genuinely with heart and soul and if it doesn’t happen, I’ll have the sensibility to move on and say this wasn’t my destiny. At the same time, I won’t give up before trying and say it was my destiny. I am a go-getter. For me, the fun is in the chase. I love the chase.