Bollywood, (which I later got to know is a term that she doesn’t care much for, but more about this later) is fraught with several contradictions, most of which makes the Hindi film industry quite peculiarly distinguishable from the universal idea of cinema – the Bollywood hero’s moral dilemma, the heroine’s sexual dilemma, the Eastern European vamp, NRI nationalist nostalgia, villain’s ‘item’ chic, melodramatic mother, gyrating dances in Switzerland, scintillating backdrops in New Zealand (passed off as only a mile away from the hero’s village)…. To rise above this plethora of characters, to establish yourself amongst this cacophony that is Bollywood is indeed a tall task. Preity Zinta has famously carved herself a little niche. In an industry that is quite obviously now experiencing puberty, what with all its sexual innuendoes and ‘kissing-scene’ sensations; she is the Cute Girl Next Door who does not intimidate or titillate, she only entertains. She is the lollypop sweetheart of India. The girl you want to take to the movies and introduce to your mom.
So when we finally met, bang comes the question: Aren’t you tired of the Cutie image? You are 30 after all and isn’t it time to overhaul that image? “I think I’ve been stuck with the cute image because I have a dimple!” she giggles. Frivolous as she may sound, given what Cindy Crawford’s mole did to her super-sexy image I’m wont to believe there’s some truth to it.
“Combine that with my high-energy personality and I am stuck with ‘cute’!” she says more exasperated with her little epithet than she is willing to disclose. “The fact is, as I do different films, portray different characters, hopefully I will be able to dispel this image. I want to be perceived as alive and normal. Somehow when people say ‘cute’ they expect me to be cute from morning till night!”
So how ‘Bollywood’ are you, I ask, excited by the prospect of someone waxing eloquent about a film industry that thrills (and threatens) to superimpose its values on the very fabric of this country. “I don’t like the term ‘Bollywood’”, she says, not quite sure whether she should be annoyed at me for asking or at the inescapable nomenclature of her film industry. “It implies that Hollywood was there first and then came Bollywood.
Dil Hai Tumhara (2002)
Khullam Khulla Pyaar Karen (2004)
Dil Se (1998)
Mission Kashmir (2000)
Dil Chahta Hai (2001)