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Preity, with your next film Heroes coming up. Are you nervous or excited?
Frankly speaking, I am very excited. I was nervous when I was shooting for the film. It was a very difficult role for me, because it was not in my comfort zone as an actor. This role was something that I have not attempted before. For instance, when someone offers me a role of an NRI, I can play that role with ease because it's in my comfort zone. But my role in Heroes has got a very rural flavor to it. It's a role of a simple girl from a village, who speaks Punjabi and is a woman of the soil. She works on a tractor and makes rotis in a village house. In that sense, it's a very different kind of role.
What is the name of your character in the film and can you oblige us by giving a sneak peak into the lives of Heroes?
The name of my character is Kuljeet Kaur, who is an Indian by every inch. And as far as the 'sneak peak' into the film is concerned, all I can say is that the film is about the two boys played by Vatsal Seth and Sohail Khan. They belong to the proverbial 'Generation Next' and also someone who have everything that anyone can ever want. They have the money to splurge, they have all the vices, and they have the time, and yes the luxury to waste time too, which is pretty much the current breed of the upper level generation. Heroes is about their journey of meeting people from various backgrounds of life. It is their interaction with people from various backgrounds of life. Moreover, how they get inspired from them. It is then, that these normal people become 'heroes'. The bottom line of the story is that one need not do anything extraordinary to become a hero. You can simply do the ordinary things and become a hero. But what matters the most is the 'way' you do them. As Mariah Carey says in her famous song… 'That a Hero lies in you'. This film is also something that acts as a bridge that connects the modern India with the real India.
So, Kuljeet Kaur is a woman of today, despite being a village belle...
Yes. Just a couple of days back, I was telling my friends about Kuljeet. I said that if we were to play the game of 'Word Association' with Kuljeet Kaur along with Riya (Sen) and Amrita (Arora), if the word is 'rain', then, Riya and Amrita would say, "Ooohh...rains …its very utterance sounds so romantic", whereas Kuljeet will say 'Rains are my livelihood as it is a source of water to my fields". If the word is 'Fashion', then, Riya and Amrita would associate it to Louis Vuitton dresses, jeans, trendy tees etc…, whereas Kuljeet will say 'Fashion to me only means covering my head and salwar kameezs' . What is so amazing is the fact that all of them (Kuljeet, Riya and Amrita) are the same women from the same country but the gap between them is immensely big. In that way, one can easily say that Heroes is an attempt to bridge this gap in its own way. The only time that we associate ourselves with people like Kuljeet is when we see a documentary or when we read something that's written about them. Heroes is also about a sneak peak into the lives of various people. It really makes me feel very happy to be a part of today's Bollywood, which is offering space for the films that are highly commercial but yet, deal with the slice of life. Look at Taare Zameen Par, which was indeed a commercial movie. Bit the slice of life factor in it was the way the parents and teacher dealt with a dyslexic son and student. The same goes for films like Chak De India, Munnabhai MBBS to name a few. And Heroes is another film which falls in the same category.
How much of your character in Heroes do you identify with?
Absolutely…despite the fact that I am extremely urban! But as Shahrukh says, 'Phir bhi dil hai Hinduatani'! I come from an army family (with my father and brother both serving the nation), I am extremely patriotic towards my country. I would request each and every family to at least send one of their children to the army. That way, it would not be states and communities anymore…it will be about INDIA! People in the army give their lives for people they don't even know. The only time when we remember them is when there is a war happening. At the end of the day, we land up with a 'Oh! How sad' kind of feeling, which is something that I feel will never cease to be the flavor of the season. Heroes is a look into lot of such things, without any kind of theory and lecture-baazi! It's more of a practical presentation which, in other words, can also be termed as the mirror of the society! It's not just me, but the whole nation will instantly identify with Kuljeet Kaur! As an actor, Heroes is a very new space for me and I am simply proud to be a part of it!
Rumors also have it that you have not used make up in the entire film. How much of it is true?
Yes, I have not used make-up, but only in some portions of the film, whereas in others, I have. But the one film in which I have just not done any make up is my next film Heaven On Earth! To me, Heaven On Earth and Heroes are the two faces of the same coin.
How was it working with Salman Khan?
Till date, never ever in my career, have I ever looked at my hero while working with him, stopped at the sets and said, "Oh! You look so good!" But, I did that with Salman Khan when he came dressed up as a Sardar. I just looked at him and said, "Oh My God! Salman…you look so good!" Salman, on his part, simply looked at me so endearingly and asked, "Preity…what are you talking about!" With his beard and turban, he looked like a real Jat Sikh! Trust me; he looks so very awesomely good in the film. As a matter of fact, I happened to go to London where a group of people came up to me and said, "Assi tho zaroor dekhaangey jee Heroes, Salman Khan tho badda sona lagada hain jee." (Dear, we will surely watch Heroes without fail. Salman looks so good in it!). And I was like, 'Hey! What about me?' (Laughs) To which, they replied, "Aap bhi achhe lag rahe ho, par Salman kya lag raha hai…gabru'. (You too are looking good, but Salman looks so macho!).
Heroes was previously titled as 'Mera Bhaarat Mahaan'. Without sounding diplomatic or politically correct, can you please tell us as to which name do you prefer more and why?
I think both the titles work for me because the idea being both the titles suits the film so very accurately. That reminds me of an incident, which happened to me a few days back when I saw a signboard which said 'Mera Bhaarat Mahaan'. But when I came closer to the board, there were these small letters below it which said 'Banana padega'. (Laughs) If I were to think of Heroes from a different context, I think that Mera Bharat Mahaan sounds like a name with a little bit of cynicism in it, while Heroes sounds more positive. That way, I would stick with Heroes!
Preity, everybody knows that you hail from an army background. So, shooting for Heroes must have been nostalgic, since the film has got its share of army moments too.
Of course, the film is so close to my heart, since it has an association with the army. There was so much in the film with which I could connect with. The world today is so fast paced that we don't have time to look into a soldiers' lives who die for an ideology called 'India'! It's also very sad to know that we today have lost all the ideologies. Forget about being state proud or country proud, we are not even city proud or street proud, which is what makes my heart bleed. The only pride that we achieve is in being 'home proud'. The reason why Heroes works for me is that it's been made without bashing any other country. I am glad that maturity is being exhibited now in our cinema and the so-called 'jhingo-ism' is totally gone.
Heroes has been extensively shot in places like Pangong Tso, Manali and Punjab. Are there any memorable moments of the shoot that you would like to share with us?
Shooting for the film was total fun. And you know what; I even rode a tractor for one of the scenes! Riding a tractor was so much fun in itself. Everyone joked about me riding the tractor and said that I cannot ride it since I was nervous. I knew for a fact, that a tractor is not a jet or a car, that it will go zip, zap, zoom. The tractor picks up its speed slowly and goes 'dhuck-dhuck-dhuck'. Moreover, it was further more exciting to stone all those raw mangoes that were dangling from the zillion trees.
Vatsal Seth…the literal blue-eyed boy of Bollywood, who started off his Bollywood career with a dud like Tarzan-The Wonder Car is again knocking the doors of tinsel town with Heroes. Do you foresee a bright future for him post Heroes?
I am sure that he indeed has a bright future ahead of him. And when he actually starts looking like a man (post his chocolate hero image), he would have gained so much experience in this industry, that its going to be only raining awards for him!
Tell us something about the music of the film and your favourite track.
The music of the film is simply exceptional. Every track of the film has got its own charm. If I were to choose my favourite track from the album, it will definitely be 'Mannata'. I love this track immensely, so much so that even the instrumental version of the song brings tears to my eyes. Today's love knows no sacrifice. It's like fast food, easy come, and easy go. In times like today, where people have zero tolerance levels, 'Mannata' is the way to go! Its will simply touch every human's heart!
What made you sign this film, despite the fact that Samir Karnik's earlier films (Kyon? Ho Gaya Na and Nanhe Jaisalmer) didn't quite shine at the Box-Office.
For me, the script of Heroes preceded everything. I also thought from the angle that it was better to work with a filmmaker who has failed in the past rather than the one who has had a huge hit. Because, the one with a huge hit will not listen to that much logic and will be like 'Arrey! I did my last film in this way and that way, and it worked. So, this film will also work', which is unlikely of the former. I strongly believe that failures teach you more than what success teaches you. When I was successful, I partied more, had been surrounded by many fake friends and I took one-step forward. And when I had my failure, I became very grounded and got to know who my true friends are. After that, I came back stronger and have taken five leaps ahead! That's why I always believe that 'Never underestimate the power of your failure. If you respect your failure and also respect somebody else's failure, you can always do magic together!' And even if Samir had made a hundred flops before Heroes, I would have still done this film!
India winning at the Oscars is every Indian's dream. So, do you feel that Taare Zameen Par will make every Indian's dream come true?
I really hope it wins! It's a great movie. After watching the film, I told Aamir that, 'TZP made me cry. And it wasn't even a love story.' I am already sitting with my fingers and toes crossed with a little prayer of my lips!
Can you cite three reasons for the common man to watch Heroes?
Firstly, it's a fantastic film. Secondly, I am in it. And lastly, it's going to be worth every minute of it.