Bollywood's dusky diva Priyanka Chopra is 'nervous' as hell & 'injured' beyond imagination, but that hasn't deterred the actress a bit from promoting her upcoming film MARY KOM. Dressed in a black tee, printed skirt and black stilettos, PeeCee was quite enthusiastic to interact with the journalists. In a quick chat, Priyanka spoke about how she slogged hard for MARY KOM, her Bollywood singing debut and much more. Read on…
What kind of response are you expecting for MARY KOM?
Frankly, I am not expecting anything. I never expect anything from any of my movies. They say that man proposes and God disposes. So I believe in destiny tremendously. And I believe destiny and hard-work go hand in hand. So I do the best I can, then wait for things to happen the way they are supposed to. Then whatever happens is the destiny of the film. Of course, I want people to love my work and enjoy the film. This movie was extremely inspiring to me personally. I hope that's what happens to the audience too when they watch it.
You are quite confident and are going all out to promote the film…
Says who? I'm not confident. I am promoting the movie because I am the only known face in the movie. The poster features just me! If I don't promote the film wholeheartedly then how will people come to know about it? I am really scared. I hope my presence is enough for people to watch this movie. I promote all my films regardless of whether they do well or not. When I sign a project, I give my heart and soul to each of them. Every film of mine is my MUGHAL-E-AZAM. None of them gets more or less from me. I am the first person to promote the film. I also enjoy talking about the entire process that went behind the scenes while doing the movie. So I always promote my films.
How strenuous was it to up your fitness quotient and look like Mary, who's a sportsperson?
As an actress, I should work out regularly but I don't. I am very lazy. I look fit and athletic because I am genetically like that. But I had to hit the gym every day for this movie. Fitness is totally different from the lifestyle of an athlete. It's a religion! They break their bodies at the gym for three hours every day. For me, getting into that zone was almost a spiritual experience. I was playing something in front of the camera that I will never be in real life. So I was cherishing the feeling. But at the same time, I hated going to the gym and I wanted to kill my trainer!
How difficult was it to look and sound like Mary Kom?
I couldn't sound like Mary Kom anyways because if that happened then you wouldn't understand the film. We didn't want to imitate her. See people need to understand that the film was being made in Hindi and it required a pan-India reach. I am speaking lot more Hindi than what Mary does. I knew my face would never look like her – we tried some prosthetics, we tried VFX but nothing worked out. But then Sanjay sir eventually said that to him the film had to be about the spirit of Mary Kom and we shouldn't take the gimmicky road. The film is Mary's zubani and she told that half the scenes are exactly what she faced. And the fact that Mary cried for four or five times, for me that is the affirmation. I have given my blood and soul to represent Mary's personality in the film to the best of my capabilities.
Now that you have learnt boxing, have you succeeded to become a pro at it?
Well, I don't know if I will be able to hit my opponent and score but if you put me into a boxing ring, I will play the sport. I know the game, the rules, the postures and the right footwork. I didn't have to act like a boxer. I had to become one.
During the shoot you got injured quite a few times. How did you manage?
All my opponents were real boxers because either Sunil Thapa & I could learn boxing or we would have to teach all of them boxing. It would have been little difficult teaching 100 people boxing. So we decided to take real boxers. But it didn't strike us that we would be shooting fight sequences and that the real boxers won't be able to do fake fighting, the way stuntmen do. When they tried doing fake boxing, they were really stressed. So finally we decided to allow them do it naturally and let them hit me. In the process, I got injured a bunch of times.
Any one such incident if you could share with us…
In one of the scenes, there was fight sequence, where I had to lose so I was beaten up badly. My opponent, Pavitra from Haryana, hit me really hard on my head where I had suffered an abscess and while the take was on I started bleeding. So Omung immediately stopped the shot. When we checked, the abscess had busted and eventually my mother, who is a surgeon, was called to treat me. However, we continued to shoot as we had to complete it because the boxers had to leave the next day. So there was no chance that we could skip shooting.
What made you choose 'Chaoro' to make your Bollywood playback singing with?
Shashi had come to me with the songs and because it was his debut film, he wanted my opinion to it as well. I loved 'Chaoro' and decided to croon it. But I must admit, 'Chaoro' was totally Shashi's vision. I have just added my emotion as an actor otherwise it was entirely him.
You are an international singing sensation. How was it singing for Bollywood?
I didn't think of it as a Bollywood song. For me it was an expression of acting. So I didn't see it like I am singing in a Bollywood movie, but saw it as an actor. And the experience was amazing. Omung and Sanjay sir were really kind to have included me in the music sessions. They asked my opinion for the songs and music.
Generally, when we see an actress playing a title role, the lead actor opposite her is a new comer or a non-established actor. What is your take on that?
We live in a world which is dominated by males. It's not just about our country or industry. Hero-worshipping happens in Hollywood too. Thankfully, things are changing now. But as a society we are male-dominating. After the days of Madhuri Dixit and Sridevi, now finally actresses are also getting roles which are more than or equal to their male counterparts. You might love Ranbir Kapoor in BARFI! but you cannot ignore Ileana D'Cruz and me in the movie. It is my film too! What Katrina Kaif did in RAJNEETI or what Deepika Padukone did in CHENNAI EXPRESS and Alia Bhatt did in 2 STATES cannot be overlooked! But at the same time, I can't take any credit for my role in KRRISH 3 because I was a supporting actor in the movie. So just the way actresses have supported our heroes in big budget films, gradually there would also be movies made where the actress will be playing the lead and a guy would be supporting her. But again, to be able to do a MARY KOM as an actress I also have to keep doing films like KRRISH 3 because I need to make myself commercially viable.
So you want more women-centric films to be made?
Of course! We need more of QUEEN, MARDAANI and KAHAANI. And let me tell you, I get irritated when people address films as woman-centric. Do we ever call a film male-centric? No, na?
On a concluding note, please tell us how ziddi is Priyanka Chopra?
I am very ziddi and I am a rebel without a cause. For anyone to be successful in any field one has to be ziddi. If you are not ziddi, you will not be as successful as you want be! And also I am a Cancerian.. Once decided, I don't leave things easily!
(By Urvi Parikh)