Meerra Chopra: I'm the actress who does a role with real-life perspective, but 1920: LONDON didn't have scope for that
If Priyanka Chopra and Parineeti Chopra have made their mark in Bollywood, then Mannara and Meerra Chopra too have tried their luck here, but somehow they just couldn’t stand up to the mark. Meerra however is again seen on the big screen in 1920: LONDON with Sharman Joshi and Vishal Karwal. In an interview, the actress spoke about her journey, past experiences and more…
Here are some excerpts from the interview:
How's your experience been in Mumbai?
It's been 2 years now. Initially I hated it. Delhi is a livable place. It doesn't stink. But Mumbai is a good place to work. I would've loved to stay in town and find it real Mumbai.
How was your experience working on the film?
It's probably my first and last horror film.
Are you scared of horror films?
I'm not scared of it. In fact it's my favourite genre. Since my childhood, I have barged on every Hindi and English horror film. In fact, 3-4 years back I had gone to US (I make it a point to go there every year) and PARANORMAL ACTIVITY 1 released that time. It was about real incidents. I was staying with my cousin, whose basement was wooden and it had very narrow stairs to travel there. I wasn't sleepy and at 1 o clock in the night, we saw PARANORMAL ACTIVITY. When I got up in the morning the next day, my whole family was like are you mad? I don't get scared of, but thrilled with horror films. So when 1920 was offered to me, obviously horror wasn't the factor. It was the first Hindi movie I said yes to. It was a successful franchise and I even messaged Vikram Bhatt calling this his most well-written script. I had an extremely strong role to portray as well. I wasn't playing the ghost and was working with Sharman. I always looked up to him. I've been his fan in 3 IDIOTS, FERRARI KI SAWAARI and RANG DE BASANTI. So for me, there was no reason to say no to the story. In fact this was the kind of project I was waiting for. It was a win-win situation so I went ahead with it.
'Horror movies are very difficult for a girl to enact'
Do you think Bollywood would typecast you?
GANG OF GHOSTS was a comedy and I didn't need to do that movie because I was anyways coming as a solo lead in 1920: LONDON. I asked Vikram about GOG and he told me to go ahead. I did because I trust him blindly. Also, I was excited for it because as a newcomer, I was excited to work with so many people in one movie. I got to know almost everybody. It was a good experience because I was working with so many senior artists in that movie and now I'm friends with all of them. Not everybody gets the chance to work with so many people. It was one of it's own kind of experience.
Why is 1920 your last horror movie?
Because I have realized that horror movies are very difficult to do for a girl. My role was really difficult because it's very stressful. You don't behave like this in your real life. Your body language and everything changes and it's completely different from what you are in everyday life. When you do those things for 70-80 days, it becomes so stressful and heavy on your head that you almost give up. In the 40 days schedule in London, I was only crying or getting scared. There's not even one scene in 1920 where I'm laughing. I remember telling my director to include that scene, but it's not there because there's no scope for it. As an actor you don't feel free because you're limiting yourself to certain expressions only. But shooting for horror movie is funny because it's the genre where you completely have to act. So it's a very difficult genre to perform and I wouldn't want to do it again. When I took the narration, I didn't know it was going to be very difficult. I've always been a very over-confident actress. Coming after working from the South, I thought I can do any role very easily. I'm the kind of actress who thinks about a role with a real-life perspective, but one cannot behave like I do in 1920: LONDON. If the lights are off and you hear something, then you wouldn't go and check things only by yourself. So when I started working, I did wonder how would I do it. But Tinu, our director, helped a lot. He's by far the most talented director I've worked with. He knew exactly what he wanted from us in the movie. Probably we all weren't that prepared when going to London, but he was well-prepared. That is what helped give us guidance of our characters. Vikram gave us a brief about shooting for a love story and we shot only a love story for 40 days of shooting in London. Horror was added later on because we can't deviate from what the franchise demands. It's a beautiful love story, which is where I think it differentiates from the other 2 parts.
Having said that, do you think that if this movie had been your debut, it would've been a better one?
That's what I always wanted. I always say that 1920 is my debut movie because I was sitting jobless for 1 and a half years in Mumbai. I wasn't happy with the scripts I got in that period of time. I never jumped into something I wasn't convinced of. 1920 is the movie which will always be emotionally close for me because I waited for it. Vikram Bhatt will always be the special one in my life because he was the first one to give me my first break. It was because of circumstances that the movie didn't release earlier, because we had worked on this film earlier to GOG.
How was your experience working with Sharman Joshi?
Fabulous. He is a sweetheart, very good guy. During the movie shooting, Sharman and me became very thick friends. I can speak anything in front of him and not be judged for it. In this industry, anybody judges you for even the smallest things. Usually you have to think twice before saying something to people from the industry because you'll be easily judged, but he's not that kind of a guy. He's an immensely good actor. I still remember the first day of shooting in London. I have too many dialogues in the movie. Tinu asked me if I was prepared on the first day of shoot and I said I'll do it within a second. But then after Sharman started his dialogues, I forgot my lines. He's extremely good in his craft. When you work with him, you learn a lot. Hindi here is very different, especially I faced that after coming from the South.
And with Vishal?
We felt bad for Vishal because he spent 4 hours in the make-up room and then had to come and sleep on the bed (which he really did one day). In fact, when he came for the first day of shoot, nobody recognized him because he was looking so old. He was a little upset because of that. The whole set was fun and young in spite of the movie being a horror genre. It was a brilliant experience.
How different are the three industries?
At the end of the day, it's all the same. When you stand in front of the camera, you have to act and emote. There's no much difference in terms of emotions. The only difference I felt was that with the language because only my staff could understand what I speak amongst the 200 people present on movie sets. Bollywood feels more like home and I'm much happier here. In fact Bollywood has become more professional now with all the young passionate people. Many people say south is co-ordinate, but I don't think that's true. Now I want to stay here and not go anywhere.
Which genre do you want to experiment with now?
What after 1920?
There's a movie which I've already done with RGV called SECRET. I think it will come after VEERAPPAN. Probably in July/August. Apart from that, I was waiting for 1920's release because it is a very important movie for me. When you've done a good role as a solo, you expect the industry to notice you. I'm expecting better offers after this.
'Can speak anything in front of Sharman Joshi and not be judged for it'
Personally which is your favourite movie to watch?
As I said, my favourite genre is horror and love story. I'm a die-hard romantic and can watch love stories 10-15 times. I don't have favourites because I love so many.
What would you do when having a bad day?
What's your dream?
I don't dream, because if I keep a big goal and don't achieve it, then I'll be disappointed and the industry will also look down on me. I don't want to be in that zone.
If you weren't an actress, then who would you be?
I wanted to be a newsreader, which is what I was doing before taking up acting. I had even done my studies for that. I still feel that if I can't be a good actress or get married, then I'll be the newsreader.
So how did the shift come about?
I was actually working in NDTV and I was just offered a movie in the South. I was doing modelling side-by-side. Somebody offered me the big South Indian movie, which became a huge hit. It then kept going on from there. I'm happy though!