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Priyanka Chopra: Shall I teach you how to do a thumka?

B-town’s fashion goddess actor-singer Priyanka Chopra discusses the Zanjeer remake, the fixation with her favourite actor Amitabh Bachchan’s remakes, why audiences should acknowledge her co-star Ram Charan Teja, her first international album Exotic, singing aspirations, preparing for her Mary Kom biopic, competing with sister Parineeti Chopra, controversies, Krrish 3 and much more…
“The film medium is not as glamorous as it looks,” Priyanka Chopra exclaims while cribbing about the annoying promotional city tours that have taken a toll on her health. And we could see that clearly! This is the thinnest Priyanka has been in a long time. Her cheeks have a noticeable hollowness. Dressed in a black top and flowered pants, PC walks into the room of a plush five-star hotel with her entourage for the interview.

If there’s anything distinctive about PC, apart from that bedroom voice and sexy drawl, it’s her innate quality of being forever grounded. Maybe it’s the arc-lights that blind one’s vision and the sense of perception of what’s real and what’s not, but the National Award winner is as real as any celebrity of her calibre can be. With highly anticipated films soon releasing – Zanjeer, Krrish 3, Gunday and the Mary Kom biopic – there’s indeed a lot to look forward to from our favourite style diva!

Though she’s suffering from viral fever, the actor-singer lit up the atmosphere with her charismatic aura and bubbly personality. “Mujhe aaj thoda bukhaar-vukhaar hai… maamla thoda sangeen hai,” smiles Chopra, who’s in an unrestrained and chatty mood nevertheless….

It seems you’re quite fond of Amitabh Bachchan films to the extent that you grab every remake offered to you – Don, Agneepath and now Zanjeer. What’s the fixation?

I don’t know, but I’m the biggest Amitabh Bachchan fan! I’m Amitabh Bachchan’s official remake queen! I saw Zanjeer on TV almost six years ago. I loved Amitji in Mohabbatein. I know there are several other iconic films of his, but I just loved him in the love story. He was just superlative. I do films for strange reasons. Sometimes I go with my instinct. Similarly, Zanjeer wasn’t planned, but I consider myself extremely fortunate to be a part of it. Since I can’t reprise Amitji’s characters, I thought I can at least do his remakes! Actually, it’s not a remake – it’s Apoorva Lakhia’s tribute to the original.

So which remake after Zanjeer?

Ab jo bhi remake hogi, meri hogi! (Laughs)

You reprise Jaya Bachchan’s character Mala from the original. To what extent has Apoorva altered it?

I’ll share a small secret with you. I don’t think anybody will notice this. I’ve tried to give Jayaji a tribute in Zanjeer. Since she played a chaku-churi wali street girl in the original, in my first scene in Zanjeer I too use a knife and threaten goondas who chase me. The new Mala is totally different. She’s a New York-based girl who comes to India to attend a wedding, but witnesses a murder and then meets ACP Vijay, played by Ram Charan.

The film has been shot simultaneously in Hindi and Telugu. Was it difficult to dub the Telugu lines?

Yes, it was really difficult, because Mala is a very talkative girl, so considering that, dubbing Hindi dialogues was still okay, but Telugu was tough and to recite long dialogues in Telugu was a task. Being a science student, mujhe ratne ki aadat thi, so I by-hearted all the dialogues. Ram has been very helpful.

The film is embroiled in a major controversy of copyright and royalty …

I think you should ask this to the producers. It’s been a very difficult journey for Zanjeer. It’s very unfortunate and upsetting when unnecessary things come up. But we are very grateful that we have Mr Bachchan’s blessings. In fact, on the mahurat day, Amitji was shooting at a nearby location and he visited us.

After Dhanush’s successful entry into Bollywood with Raanjhanaa, people are now banking heavily on Ram Charan Teja…

It’s not right to generalise, coz every actor has his own destiny. We can’t say that ek South actor chal gaya toh saare chalne chahiye. That’s not right. Ram is brilliant in Zanjeer and people should acknowledge him for his individuality.

Do you think that in doing a hero-oriented film the pressure is not entirely on you and it becomes easier?

You’re right! I never thought of it that way. But I guess at times you have to share some responsibilities with heroes. I have done all kind of films – Don, Agneepath, Krrish… all male-dominated films – and female-oriented films too, such as Barfi!, Saat Khoon Maaf,What’s Your Rashee and the Mary Kom biopic. In one of his interviews Amitji said that it’s not about your character’s screen time, it’s about the impact. For example in Kaminey I had only six to eight scenes, but the impact was huge.

You have collaborated with Hollywood legends and Pitbull for your international album Exotic, which was well received by your fans and music lovers. What can we expect from you next?

Exotic was an amazing experience. You know, when I promoted the album at night clubs abroad people asked me how to do a thumka! I found that really amazing. I taught them that!

So who do we see you collaborate with next?

Hmmm… You’ll know that soon! (Grins) I can’t say anything about it.

When will we see you singing for your own films?

I hope soon. My first song was for a Tamil film called Tamilian. After that I didn’t sing, because I got busy with acting offers and didn’t pursue it seriously. I sang one song for Vishal Shekhar in Bluff Master which was considered to be a part of the album, but I didn’t like it and asked them to remove it. I’m trying to broaden my horizons as a creative person. My dad always wanted me to sing, but I was very shy. He pushed me a lot for Exotic.

We heard you had performed with your dad on stage?

Yes, when I was three years old.

If film remakes were not enough, music composers have started recreating old songs like Tayyab Ali and Bachna ae haseeno. Being a singer, what would you say about this trend? Is it a form of tribute or tampering with the original?

I don’t know why we have become so judgemental about films and songs. So what if Tayyab Ali was recreated, or any song for that matter? Creativity shouldn’t be restricted by any judgement. We are a democratic country and have freedom of speech and opinion. If you don’t like a song, it’s okay. Some turn out to be good, some bad. I wouldn’t say it’s a lack of creativity.

During Bhaag Milkha Bhaag Farhan Akhtar said he would take his character home, though he was prepared. Did that happen with you with the Mary Kom biopic?

Mary Kom is going to be my most different and difficult film, coz to learn a new sport (boxing) and look pro at it onscreen is not easy. I had to do two months of training. I had to look like Mary. I’ve tried method acting earlier in my career, but I get bored very easily. I’m very spontaneous. Is it good or bad? I don’t know.

Shuddhi Desi Romance and Zanjeer are releasing on the same day – September 6. Do we see a Chopra sisters war at the box office?

It’s going to be a Chopra weekend, not a war! It warms my heart to see my family doing well and I have other cousins also besides Parineeti Chopra working in movies. When I entered Bollywood, I had no one. I didn’t know anybody and was very lonely. Now they have me as their protector.

Almost every female actor in B-town has been embroiled in some controversy or the other and either they or their publicity managers react to it. You don’t….

I don’t feel the need to. I’m a very private person. I do really believe that by giving statements I’m giving importance to them and you’ll write two more articles about it and somebody else will comment and then two more articles will come up. It’s like hawa de rahe ho aap aag ko. If it’s something that really matters to me and I feel the need to talk about it, then I’ll say it. I get very hurt and affected by it. I’m a family girl, so it affects my family. So I rather just keep quiet.

The Krrish 3 trailer has got a humongous response. Will we see you doing stunts and flying alongside the original superhero, Hrithik Roshan?

No, when you have Krrish, why do I have to do the hard work? (Laughs) I’m going to look very pretty in the film. I’m a TV journalist. It got me newfound respect for TV journos.

There was talk that you’re doing Ekta Kapoor’s Milan Talkies with Shahid Kapoor…

I don’t know what’s happening with that film. I haven’t spoken to Ekta Kapoor yet. I was supposed to do the film with Tigmanshu Dhulia and we had discussed it two and a half years ago. After that I don’t know what happened.

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