All sorts of bizarre reasons are being put forward for Preity Zinta's sudden disappearance after the release of Kabhi Alvidaa Na Kehna.
"But I'm very much around, in London shooting for Shaad Ali's Jhoom Baraabar Jhoom," Preity's voice tinkles across the seven seas in reassuring waves. "You see I'm a bit of an idiot. I never take that crucial pause after a release to savor its success. I'm told KANK has raised quite a storm in India. Well, good that's what movies should do. I don't understand why some people feel Karan Johar has gone too far. Arrey! People say, make something different. And when a filmmaker actually takes the plunge into a deeper end , people accuse him of going too far. Personally I feel proud to be in a film that pushes the envelope in mainstream cinema. I want to hug Karan for making KANK. In fact I'll get my chance to do so in the next twenty-four hours because Karan is coming to London."
Crib about the limited space provided for Preity in KANK and she retorts, "Abhishek and I are like the anchors in the plot. I was never more scared of a role. A little bit this or that way , and my character could've toppled over. Thank God Rhea doesn't come across as a bitch. I constantly kept looking at Karan for reassurance. I never had to be directed so closely before. 'I don't want Preity Zinta . I want Rhea Saran,' Karan kept saying...As for the footage, hey... we don't really live in those times any more when actors measured the length of each other's roles with measuring tapes, do we? Cinema has grown up. So have actors. KANK is proof of it."
All of Bollywood seems to have descended on London. Last month it was the combined units of Priyadarshan's Bhagam Bhag and Vipul Shah's Namastey London turning London into a mini-Bollywood. Now it's Nikhil Advani's Salaam-e-Ishq and Shaad Ali's Jhoom Baraabar Jhoom creating a dhoom in the city.
Preity agrees. "Indeed, you can't step out on the street here without bumping into one or the other of your colleague. I've been shooting with Shaad for two weeks. We call him Fidel on the sets. Why? Because with his beard he looks like the young Fidel Castro. Ha ha. Abhishek has just arrived. And Bobby (Deol) was here. It was good to catch up with him after so long. We had a great time during Soldier. Bobby remains the same. Quiet and wise."
Jhoom Baraabar Jhoom is Preity's first film with Shaad. "He's so quiet and yet so much in-charge on the sets. I've never had so much fun on location...But then come to think of it, I always make sure I've fun."
Preity has always been part of progressive cinema. Her first film Kya Kehna was about unwed motherhood. Now KANK is about the cult of crumbling matrimony. "Yeah, I like being part of cinema that goes beyond stereotypes. Even my next release Jaan-e-Mann isn't quite the normal film."
How does she intend to stop the bizarre rumors about her so-called disappearance? "Just because I'm so much out of the country, people feel free to say and write what they like. I wish I was at home so I could see what was going on. But then I'm just a paid slave. No time to savor the fruits of my job," she sighs dramatically.
And then the Preity Zinta chuckle.