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Preity building home in Shimla

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Preity Zinta
Even while her home in Mumbai is being re-constructed, Preity Zinta had a dream and she's about to realize it. "I always wanted a family home in my home town Shimla. I'm now going to build a house there. The older one is in a locality that's so crowded I don't recognize it any more. Earlier it was just our house and lots of trees."

Preity has an ancestral land which she has been planning to use to build a dream house. "Now's the time to do it. Build a farmhouse where my kids and my brother's kids will grow up. It's a little away from Shimla near the golf course. A gloriously green patch. I want to make it completely eco-friendly. It's so difficult to acquire anything eco-friendly here in Mumbai. I'm trying to buy an eco-friendly car. But it's so difficult. But I am determined to buy an eco-friendly car. Look at the fumes in Mumbai. I'm more determined than ever to start building my home in Mumbai at the earliest." Preity is looking at entirely refurbishing her life. "Last year I badly hurt myself on my back and pelvis. I've been working on myself. We actors are constantly hurting ourselves and neglecting our health. Look at how much Shahrukh has gone through. And the other day when I dropped in to meet him on the set of Om Shanti Om I saw him with a 6-pack. I was like...wow! I've seen him so unwell when we were shooting Kal Ho Na Ho. He's very inspiring, and not just on screen."

She describes this year of hers in the movies as the "India Shining Year." "After so many years of shooting abroad I'm finally working in India. I just shot Samir Karnik's Mera Bharat Mahaan in Punjab. Came back with sunburn. Now I'm back to my normal self. I am in Mumbai for shooting after a long time. Apart from the crazy traffic and heavy rain I'm enjoying myself. But I wish Mumbai had places for recreation. Where does one go in Mumbai to relax? The other Sunday when I had a day off, I had no place to go! You go to either a restaurant or a movie. And it takes so long to get anywhere! It's very frustrating. You can't go anywhere. When I want to unwind, I go out of the country. We need more entertainment and sports centers in Mumbai. You can't have children and dogs in Mumbai. If I've children in Mumbai where do I stay with them? That's why I miss my home town Shimla."

Preity who was earlier looking at one assignment a year is now busy devouring scripts. "This is probably the best time for me. Look at Shahrukh Khan in Chak De. There were conventional trappings. There're no hard and fast rules about what I can do and can't do. Strangely, I started my career playing an unwed mother, a prostitute, and a CBI trainee. Then I started doing more commercial films. Now it's time for me to do a different kind of film. Working with Rituparno Ghosh and Jahnu Barua there was a lot to unlearn about acting. And it's not as if I look at Last Lear or Har Pall as small films." She's currently shooting for Jahnu Barua's second Hindi film Har Pall with Lilette Dubey and Shiney Ahuja." I want to do work that excites me. I'm not the same actress I used to be. I want to do at least one film every year that pushes the envelope. I did Rituparno Ghosh's Last Lear and now I'm doing Har Pal...It's a totally new experience. I get to play a role I haven't done before. All the co-stars, directors, cinematographer are all new. I'm having so much fun. We've already completed one schedule. The director Jahnu Barua has a great sense of humor. Though he's very quiet, he knows what he wants. Isha Koppikar is a pleasure to work with." Then there's Rituparno Ghosh. "I just love him. He's too cute. He made me feel so comfortable during The Last Lear. Working with Mr. Bachchan was a treat for me. Then I had Shefali Shah and Divya Dutta and Arjun Rampal."

One of her most ennobling moments was when Preity recently gave away the bravery awards. "To meet a woman who fought a leopard with her bare hands to save a child, or a child who jumped into the fire to save another child. Or to meet a group of young Mumbaites who've started a private ambulance service, or a Devdasi who had a child at the age of 12 who has run away from her wretched life... believe me, there's no experience to equal these. Because of people like these 'Mera Bharat Mahaan' is not just a slogan. I don't want to get up every morning and thank God for what He has given me. I'd also like to give back."

Preity feels for the girl child. "When I went to the Bravery awards I said I was grateful to be standing there because my parents didn't kill me when I was born. When I was shooting for Mera Bharat Mahaan in Chandigarh, I went to a school where there were fifty boys and just eight girls. That shocked me. What's going to happen ten years from now?"

And what about marriage to a certain Mr. Wadia? "Each time I'm asked this, I go...ummm aaah! I'm a grownup girl and I don't have to hide my marriage plans when it happens. Everything happens in its own time." Maybe the housewarming and wedding can be combined in Shimla? "Ha, what if the house takes five years to make? I can't wait that long to get married," comes the retort.

Preity Zinta's impact

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