where have you been late?
I’ve been around (smiles).
But it’s only on social media…
I made this rule about myself.
That I will come out only when I am doing some work.
Industry has not given you your right…
Correct. Even I think so. I have spoken to myself to analyze where I have failed. I could not make myself a part of this industry. I realized that people in this industry like to work with their friends or acquaintances. I have failed to crack that code.
Secondly, I am an introvert. I can’t aggressively put myself out there. I can’t plan on getting clicked by paparazzi at the airport or any other place for that matter.
Top most, Bollywood It is difficult. With so many new actors coming in from star families, I see they are doing 90 per cent good work that is available. I understand they have a clan and where are they coming from, so this is happening. But that leaves hardly 5-6 per cent with people like me. I can’t fight Star Kids. I have often auditioned for roles where I was better suited but they were given to people who knew about them (producers). I cannot make myself a part of any camp. The struggle never ends for an outsider like me, I guess.
But you could go back to the south where you started well…
I started in the South, went to America to complete my studies and then moved to the South. But I was never happy in the South. I was totally obsessed with languages and I couldn’t enjoy it. Then, I went to Delhi and got a job in a popular news outlet. But the acting bug never goes away (the acting bug is hard to get rid of). So I decided to go into Bollywood. But because of my history of being a part of commercial cinema in the South, I was offered only commercial cinema here. I was overconfident and said ‘no’ to many projects.
Did you get any bad vibes from producers and casting directors that made you wary and take a step back?
in Bollywood? No, not even once, and probably because I was coming to the South with a lot of experience and everyone knew what I belonged to Priyanka Chopra, Everyone was welcoming and I could easily schedule my meetings. If the wrong vibes get mile, I would have run away long ago. I’ve hung up, haven’t I?
You can’t get the wrong vibes in B-Town, but what about the South?
No, such things happen sometimes when you go and ask for work and powerplay comes. Down South, I was getting films sitting at home.
If you see a big filmmaker at a party, would you go up to him and say you want to work with him?
Now, I won’t.
But it is not necessary that the person present there gives you wrong vibes..,
Look, everyone in the industry today knows who I am.
But isn’t there such a thing as ‘recall value’?
There is, but I’ve never disappeared for directors and producers. Sometimes, yes, I do text them, I reach out to people—but to people who are my friends and not people I don’t know. I have a manager looking for work for me. To the media yes, I have disappeared.
I probably won’t get a film with a big hero now. But to be honest, I’m still in a happy place. Like, I did ‘section 375’. I remember that role was snatched from Kumar Mangat ji. He wanted to cast me for ‘Pagalpanti’ but I insisted for ‘Section 375’. He was not even interested in me auditioning for it. He said to me: ‘Are you mad that you are choosing a 10 crore film over a 100 crore film’? But I was very keen to play the Maharashtrian character of Anjali Dangal. Kumar Mangat ji said that I do not see a Marathi girl from slums – but still I insisted.
Which recent film do you think you should have done together?
‘Dear’; I am obsessed with that film.
Do you have a friend who has been the victim of physical abuse?
No, but I keep reading stories and hearing about such things. Women’s issues started affecting me, especially after I met prostitutes for the film ‘Kamathipura’ which I did for Disney Hotstar.
Talking about ‘Darlings’, it has so much drama and an issue that is relevant to the entire world. It ticks all the boxes correctly.
But you didn’t like ‘Lal Singh Chaddha’…
It is a remake of a film released 28 years ago. In those days people did not ask questions, but I could not understand why he was running for 4 years; It was not proper.
And again, I am a true patriot. Whatever he showed against the army was not good. The US PM then introduced a program to enlist 1 lakh mentally handicapped people for wars that he believed were not special enough to send his troops. Indian Army does not do this. Nothing like this happened in India. Everyone knows that elite soldiers were sent in the Kargil war.
And then he rescues a terrorist and he is roaming free in India; Then you are questioning our government. While I understand the aspect of creative freedom in a film, you are showing things that are fundamentally wrong.
The music was beautiful and so was ‘LSC’ as a film, but Kareena Kapoor and Mona Singh were good parts of the film. I have a problem with ‘lsc’ on fundamental issues.
Many people on Twitter disagree with you…
Yes, but as I said, I am a patriot. Talking about the army people, they are angry with the film. I come from an army family. Priyanka and Parineeti’s father have been in the army.
Do you get scared when people start disagreeing with you on social media?
who are they? I do not know them. Maybe they have been bought. Why talk to them?
Talking about today’s films, do you think there is something different from the content that is being created?
But 10 years ago, we were not exposed to world cinema. And today, we’re weeding out substandard products and actors. Imagine, we are casting people based on their number of Instagram followers. Once you do that, people know you’re coming with a substandard product. The audience is not a fool. A 50 year old boy cannot go to college and a 20 year old girl cannot romance.
Are you saying that senior actors in India need to reinvent themselves?
in what way? Like Amitabh Bachchan did in ‘Mohabbatein’?
That’s exactly what I’m saying.
You mean they shouldn’t play hero and villain?
But in Hollywood…
Who? Tom Cruise returns to ‘Top Gun: Maverick’. It is a cult film. And, didn’t he play the 55-year-old coach?
Are we getting obsessed with biopics and remakes here?
Remake, yes. This is because we are not giving due importance to our authors. I am planning to make a film. I was trying to remake. But I realized that no, I should not go for the remake. I am shifting towards OTT these days. I am a sucker for web shows.
Would you feel comfortable doing intimate scenes which are common in the web space?
I haven’t kissed on screen till now. I had turned down many such films in my early days.
Would you have played the role of Kubra Sait in ‘Sacred Games’?
Are you mad?
If the manufacturer was too big? Mandakini made Raj Kapoor’s ‘Ram Teri Ganga Maili’ …
I don’t mind. I’m not 20 anymore, I’m not at the age where I’d think something like this would take me somewhere. Did Mandakini do it again? I don’t know about his travels. It worked for Kubra though; He got a lot of work after that he got a Hollywood project- ‘Foundation’. but I will not. to each his own.
Is Meera Chopra Single?
No, I’m never single.
Who is the boy?
nobody’s business. it’s private. it’s private.
Do you believe in marriage?
Completely. I am trying to get married since last 5 years. I need to find the right man I want to settle down with (smiles).