Parineeti Chopra, 25, is often compared to Kajol possibly due to her friendly, enthusiastic persona and her uninhibited style of acting. She is emotional and sensitive and cries easily, but is primarily happy as a person. She considers herself loyal, but a poor judge of people. Ahead of her upcoming romantic film Hasee Toh Phasee, she talks about her strict father, the caring Aditya Chopra and why Maneesh Sharma will always hold a special place in her life. Excerpts:
How did you come into films?
I was born and brought up in Ambala. My dad is this typical orthodox, narrow-minded Punjabi man, in front of whom you can’t even utter the word called boyfriend. He expects you to get up at seven in the morning and go for a jog. We had little money and would go on a cycle to school. But my nana lived in Africa and was very affluent, as he owned a big insurance company and so every summer vacation we would fly first class for our holidays there and from there to a new country. My mom had come to Delhi for a one-year course and her relatives wanted to marry her off. She went to see this boy at a singing performance where the Chopra brothers, Priyanka’s father and my father, were performing (they did shows for their passion) and my mother fell in love with my father and married him. I have always been a big city girl, so post college in Ambala, I went to Manchester and did a triple honours degree in Business, Finance and Economics, but in 2009, when I graduated, recession had hit hard and there were no jobs for bankers. So I had no choice but to come back to India. My dad was a supplier to the army and was not a very well-off person. I had gone on a big student loan to study there with some help from my nana. I would do part-time jobs to sustain my life and study there. I worked with Manchester United and used to do a catering job. I would meet the entire team, including David Beckham, everyday. I knew he was a star and my friends would get envious as I got to see the matches for free, but I was not a football fan at all. For me, it was just a well-paying job. I also took orientation classes for new students at the university and worked at a departmental store. Coming back to India was a big jolt, as it was a waste of degree and money. Due to recession, there were no jobs in banking even in India. So I had once come with my sister Priyanka to YRF, while she was shooting for a film. I used to judge films and actors and feel they were useless and would often tell my sister, ‘You have such an easy job. You just have to wear good clothes and travel the world and make money.’ She would get very disturbed and say, ‘You don’t know what acting is.’ But all that was theory for me. So I applied and got a job as a marketing intern with YRF and started enjoying films and then got myself a permanent job. After a year, I thought of giving acting a shot. I had only done school plays for annual days before that. The good thing was I did not struggle and got my first film, Ladies vs Ricky Bahl, easily. I had worked on the marketing of Band Baaja Baaraat and Maneesh Sharma would often see me and say, ‘Why don’t you become an actress?’ That got me thinking, but I did not tell him till one day he sent me to the casting director to give my audition. After a few months, I resigned from my job as I had decided to go and take an acting course. But the very next day, I got a call from Maneesh saying they wanted to sign a three-film deal with me. I went to meet Adi and just cried and hugged him.
What is Adi Chopra like?
He is the coolest man ever. He will sit and discuss a film with you and is fine with you even saying no to a film, even though he is the one who has made you. He is chilled out and will eat and discuss food with you. You feel so important that Adi is having a meal with you. He can remember scripts and characters like no one can. He is such a lovely person to learn from and is a perfect producer. The only one who comes close to him is Karan Johar.
How different are Adi and Karan?
Karan is a very media-savvy person and he likes to talk about his films and shows, and is as big a superstar as any other in the industry. Adi is a very shy person and likes to be the person behind the curtain, but I don’t think he wants to come out. We must respect that even though he is an extremely powerful man and wants to do a lot in his life, he does not want to add the fame and stardom to it.
Does Adi express his emotions?
On a Friday, when your film releases, he will send a personal message to you. I know that he must be really nervous about what is going to happen to the film and, yet during the first show, he will make you feel better saying, ‘Whatever happens, we have made a special film and you have done well.’ Luckily in my case, all three films did well, but his message really helps as I know he cares. I think he is doing a great job as a leader as he is telling his team, ‘Don’t worry, whatever happens to the film, I am proud of you.’ You feel great and it releases your pressure and you feel so much more loyal and connected to him, apart from the fact that you feel good that Aditya Chopra has your number and is texting you. I have cried reading his message each time.
People you really want to work with?
I really want to work with Karan Johar and Imtiaz Ali as directors. I find Saif very intelligent and would like to work with him.
Are you close to your sister Priyanka Chopra?
Priyanka’s dad and my father are real brothers. We have never lived together, but Ambala was the central Chopra house and she would come there during her summer vacations or New Years or Diwali and we would all be together.
Priyanka and you seem to be quite different as people?
She is shamelessly hardworking, more than anybody I know. She will not stop, not eat, but will keep working and is incessant. I don’t have the physical stamina to do what she does. The one thing I want to take from her is that, when I have done as many films like she has, she still works as if it is her first film and wants to prove to everybody. I feel I could get bored in a few years. Apart from that, she is a big family person. If she is in Mumbai, she will make it a point to go back and have dinner with her family. I am so lazy that I will tell my parents, ‘I am not coming to Ambala, you guys come here.’ I am not a huggy, touchy kind of person with my parents like she can be. You won’t believe it, but I have never seen my parents hug, so I often tell them that the three of us have been produced by magic as there is no romance between the two of you and they laugh. They wish each other on birthdays by shaking hands, but you know that my dad would kill someone for my mom. There is no good night and good morning. So I land up hugging people around me all the time. Also, unlike my sis, who is very well-versed with the world and knows how to deal with people and situations and knows what to say, I don’t think so much before saying things and I’m more spontaneous.
How does your dad deal with your kissing in films?
He accepted the fact that I am in films because my sister had done well and working with Yash Raj, he assumed I was in safe hands. But it’s still very uncomfortable for him many times, for instance, when he saw the love-making scene in Ishaqzaade, he did not talk to me for a day. He was not angry, but just uncomfortable. He saw Shuddh Desi Romance alone with my mother, but did not say anything to me. I can’t tell him about my relationships till I am getting married to the person. My mom knows about everything. But I also know that over time he will understand it and is happy that I am doing well.
Who are your emotional anchors?
My younger brother Sahaj who is now living with me in Mumbai and is assisting on a film before he goes back to doing business. While he is four years younger, he is like the eldest in the family.
Are you dating Maneesh Sharma?
I love Maneesh and he has changed my life, but am not in a relationship with him. After Sahaj, he is my go-to person. I can wake up Maneesh in the middle of the night if I have a problem. I get along with people older to me as they talk more sense. Maneesh is 33 and one of the most wonderful people I have met. He is perfectly understanding of people and tries to understand why the person may be doing something and I have learnt that from him. He has taught me to be patient with people. He is very intelligent and has the gift of the gab. I enjoy people who talk intelligently. I love him, I love him a lot and he is the greatest person I have met. I consider him my best friend. My parents too really like him and everytime I buy something like a car or house, my mother will send him a text saying, ‘Thank you again and it’s because of you, she is here.’ He is the angel in my life. He will see you for what you are and will fight for you and give you another chance. Everytime I see him, I feel like touching his feet and saying thank you.
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