'You can't put a good man down,' or so goes the adage. Remove that sexist slant and that proverb applies superbly to Priyanka Chopra, whose recent appearance in GUNDAY has fetched her acclaim. There's no disputing that the actress has emerged as a pillar of strength over the years.
Priyanka Chopra: 'If GUNDAY does well,
it will be my hat-trick...'
Presenting a conversation with Priyanka Chopra, who isn't nervous but excited and extremely proud of her recently-released GUNDAY, co-starring Ranveer Singh and Arjun Kapoor. A few succinct excerpts:
Despite starring in PYAAR IMPOSSIBLE, you have stated that GUNDAY can be termed as your debut stint with YRF banner?
I think so, because PYAAR IMPOSSIBLE was an Uday Chopra production, it was not a Yash Raj film. So yes, GUNDAY is my first film with YRF indeed!
GUNDAY is being hailed as Ranveer Singh and Arjun Kapoor's film. Even in the initial promotions we saw the twosome hogging the major limelight. Weren't you apprehensive taking up a male-dominated film after proving your mettle in female-oriented subjects?
I wouldn't have done if it deterred me. The film is called GUNDAY and both Ranveer & Arjun are playing the title roles. And of course a film cannot be about just two boys. The story of the film begins with these GUNDAY, who are the best of friends and share brotherly relations until Nandita, my character, enters their life. Nandita's character is the reason why everything happens in the film and why everybody's lives become uthal puthal (messy). She is the driving force of the story. The boys fall in love, stand by her and that's where the entire conflict comes in. So, the audience has to pick which side they want to take. It is not a male-dominated film as you say.
GUNDAY is gaining eyeballs for Ranveer and Arjun's ceaseless, inexhaustible energy. How was it going in tandem with their energy levels?
I don't think I have issues in my energy. I am very energetic. Rather keeping up with my schedule was hard for them, because they always used to tell me that you work like a crazy person! It was amazing still. The best thing was that we all got along so well. Arjun and I have been friends for years now. We have known each other for quite a long time. We have had a common gang of friends. It was cool to work with him. With Ranveer, I got to know him through GUNDAY. Both of them are really great actors. The coolest thing was that all of us - whether it's Ali, me, Arjun or Ranveer- are humble in a way. So everybody was on the same page. Everybody's idea of fun was the same and we had a great time!
Talking about Arjun, he was an AD on some of your films. How was it working with him as a co-star?
That's the professional aspect of Arjun you are talking about. I knew him personally as well. We became friends while he was an AD. He used to come and call me for my shots. So being good friends, I used to always tell him buy me some five minutes.
CHECK OUT: GUNDAY Movie Review
Were you at the receiving end of Ranveer and Arjun's mischief? Did they bully you or pull your leg?
In fact, I am a big bully myself. I bullied both the boys a lot. We used to gang-up against each other. We used to pick on each other. But usually it was Arjun and me who used to plot against Ranveer and make fun of him. But there was never any moment like 'o mai akeli ladki phas gayi dono k beech meh'. No, nothing like that!
When you started out, it was only star-oriented films for you and you worked with some senior actors of Bollywood. But of late, you've shifted to working with young guns. Any specific reason?
(Barges in) I am not concentrating on anything. I am picking films which come to me. I don't celebralise my films. I don't sit and decide that now I have to work with this actor or this particular star. I pick and choose from the films I get, based on their story. I am very happy with the kind of films I am doing. I think you guys put too much pressure on this age thing of seniority and juniority. It's all rubbish! For e.g. see what RAM-LEELA has done. What is seniority? It's just the experience. But that has nothing to do with the success of the film. Hence, my focus hasn't changed. If the movie happens to have either Ranveer or it happens to have another actor, it doesn't matter. If a film works for me, I'll do it. There is no mathematics which I apply here that now I would work with this type of hero.
MUJHSE SHAADI KAROGE, DOSTANA and now GUNDAY, two-hero projects work well for you. Do you like driving men crazy
No, I mean so many actresses have done two-hero projects. You are saying probably I have done it the most. I don't know why that has happened, but I am happy it has. And if GUNDAY does well then it will be my hat-trick. I guess in a way I'm successful with two-hero films.
While Arjun-Ranveer are being tagged as the new-age 'Jai-Veeru' jodi, how would you want to be addressed?
'Madhuri Dixit was the ultimate item girl'
Oh God! that means you have to call GUNDAY as SHOLAY and I don't think you should. It's not fair to say. Our story is very different. It's been compared because the film is based in the '70s. Hence, everybody is saying that the film appears like SHOLAY or KALA PATTHAR or DEEWAR, which is great for us because we want the film to look like that. In that era, all the heroes...the youth was very anti-establishment, etc, which is what these boys are also. I think the elements like two boys who happen to be good friends, train and koyla (coal) is reminding one of that era and films. Nobody can compare any film with SHOLAY
Since Helen was an iconic cabaret dancer in most of her earlier films, did you model your character Nandita along those lines?
Technically, GUNDAY is my first period film. I was very excited about the cabaret bit. I love and enjoy dancing very much. I was very excited about playing a cabaret dancer, especially because cabaret is so glamorous. It's about women being larger-than-life, it's beautiful. It's a dance form that was so big in the '70s and '80s. When Ali and I had a discussion, we didn't want to go down the road of Helen because there can't be any comparison. I'll be crushed for even trying. So we didn't do that. We went European. Helenji's was an Indian thumka cabaret, but we did a French sort of cabaret. French dancers were called in. The choreography was done like the pole dancing and stuff. It's a different form. Helen ma'am has a stamp on cabaret that we were too scared to do it along those lines. So we decided we'll go with the stockings and corsets and make it very medieval. Ali calls it Engliss Cabaret
You seem quite fascinated in doing 'item numbers' these days. If we take a look at the last year, you made headlines for your item numbers only. Did you aim to be an 'Item Queen'?
Answer me, was Madhuri Dixit an 'item girl'? Even she had hot saucy songs in every film. Why wasn't she termed as an 'Item Queen'? She was the ultimate item girl then. Being Hindi film heroines, every A-list actress used to have special dancing numbers earlier. You should then be calling MD, Sridevi and all the other heroines of the past as item girls too. It's now that the media has started terming it as an item, started making it derogatory which doesn't make it bad. Yes, I agree that I did special numbers in RAM-LEELA and SHOOTOUT AT WADALA, but when it comes to ZANJEER and doing a cabaret in GUNDAY, these were films where I was the main lead. My songs in these two films can't be tagged as 'item numbers'.
It's extremely stupid when people try to bring down a heroine just because it's easy to do. Just because you guys get a lot more space and readership it's easy bringing down an icon. The fact that today's actresses - whether Katrina, Kareena, Deepika, or me, do special songs is because our culture is about singing and dancing. It's been there for eons right from Vyjayanthimala period. Our films are mostly known for that and they are musicals. When you have a heroine doing a song, which is all about her, it looks so wonderful! It's just like boys have action scenes to do in a film, item songs are for us.
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Looking at your filmography, what makes you juggle between commercial masala flicks and performance-driven ventures at the same time?
I don't follow the rules or a given path. I am a wild child. I like making it on my own. I am an achiever. I am not from the film business so I don't know what typically a Hindi film heroine's career graph should be. I have done whatever I felt instinctively. Like I told you for me my career's never been mathematics chalo I have to do one song now or I have to do a commercial film which will get 300 crores or 200 crores. No, I haven't done that. I have done films I enjoy. For me movies are feeling...it's art, it's like having an empty canvas and putting paint on it, that's what movies are to me. I don't celebralise them too much. I do them out of instinct. So it's not a strategy. When somebody narrates a film to me, I decide to do it or not. I don't think beyond that.
You've worked with Ranbir Kapoor and now, with Ranveer Singh too, both actors having similar sounding names...
Yeah, the names do sound similar but they are way different from each other. Ranbir is a buddy, while I have just known Ranveer. Both are supercool to work with. Both are doing good!
- By Rachana Sheth, Glamsham Editorial