Preity Zinta on Ness Wadia molestation case: Lines must be drawn for everyone
At India Today Conclave East 2018, Preity Zinta spoke at length on her Bollywood journey, her tryst with Mumbai underworld, her entry into IPL and #MeToo movement.
At a time when she was busy delivering hits after hits at the box office, Preity Zinta decided to give her up Bollywood career for trying her hand at a new sports venture – IPL (Indian Premier League). Since 2008, she has been busy playing the perfect role of an entrepreneur, and making a few cameos in films. But after a long sabbatical, Preity is returning to the big screen with Bhaiyyaji Superhit.
At India Today Conclave East 2018, Preity spoke at length on her Bollywood journey, her tryst with Mumbai underworld, her entry into IPL and #MeToo movement.
ON ENTERING CINEMA
I didn’t grow up wanting to be an actor. I was from the mountains, I didn’t even know acting could be a career. I actually wanted to be a criminal psychologist. I went to pick up my friend from an audition. We were so broke, we had to share a cab. Shekhar Kapur found me and signed me. That film was never made. He said I was the best find, but other people signed me.
ON KYA KEHNA
Kya Kehna was ahead of its time. I felt it was very relevant in a country with such a big population. A film on teenage pregnancy. Mr Kundan Shah (director of Kya Kehna) taught me a lot about cinema, but he also tortured me on the film sets (laughs). He made me work 20 hours on film sets.
ON WORKING WITH THREE KHANS
They are all great actors. With Aamir Khan, there is a lot of discussion before the film, little discussion on sets. He is fun.
Shah Rukh Khan is the most entertaining person to work with. He is the guy with whom we had cricket competitions on the sets. He is very entertaining. He always had a fun story.
Salman is also very cool. He is in his own zone. When I did films with him, he wasn’t Salman the superstar. I did films with him where I had very meaty parts. So it was fun working with him then. I don’t know how girls feel working with him now. Because the whole story is centred around him. But he is a lot of fun. There are no rehearsals with Salman. You just got to get it right. So you have to come there prepared.
ON KAL HO NA HO
It turned out better on film than it was on script. It had amazing characters. It was one of the wholesome entertainer.
ON MUMBAI UNDERWORLD
For the record, if I knew that everyone was going to back out, I also would have. It was a scary time in my life. I should have been protected. Whatever I said in court was on TV ten minutes later. I was fine till they were scaring me, but once they started abusing, I lost it. I learnt that if you get a call from +92, don’t pick up! Everything was being recorded. I can take stress but not people abusing me. I am glad whatever I did.
Everyone was irritated with me. They all said why did you have to be the one to do all this? It’s different with me. I didn’t have a family, I didn’t have children.
ON SALMAN AND SRK CHANGING THEIR STATEMENTS:
I don’t know what statements anyone gave. I don’t think there was anything happening on that set. But there was definitely fear going around. Because Rakesh (Roshan) ji had been shot. Everyone was paranoid. People would keep their phones switched off, worried that they will get a call. I initially refused police protection, but then cops in plain clothes were sent to me. Later, it fizzled out.
ON ENTERING CRICKET WITH IPL
2005. I almost died in the tsunami. I was in Phuket. That was a turning point for me. Most of my closest friends passed away in that. I came back thinking why did I survive? So I thought I should do what I really want to do with my life. Then I met Lalit Modi at Bravery Awards and we got talking. I told him that I want to do something in sports. I was my my dad and my dream to see India win more medals in Olympics. But I didn’t know that for this you need Rs 1000 crore. When IPL was being bid, Lalit said why don’t you do this. Somehow he convinced me. Whatever people might say about him, but I thank him for starting IPL.
ON NESS WADIA MOLESTATION CASE
It is sub judice, so I am not going to talk much. It was not an option, it happened in front of a lot of people. Lines should be drawn for everyone.
ON #METOO MOVEMENT
This is not only a problem in Bollywood but every industry. For you to solve a problem, you need to admit that there is a problem. Now the admission has started. There is abuse from men and women. If you cannot support Tanushree, then shut up.
I do feel bad for Tanushree. It is sad how people are. When something like this happens, you need to have a thick skin to deal with what will follow.
ON RETURNING TO FILMS WITH BHAIYAJI SUPERHIT
I had actually thought that I am done with films. In fact, I went to producers and directors telling them that it was great working with them, and now I would concentrate on my journey as an entrepreneur. Then one day Sunny [Deol], calls up and I told him I have stopped acting. He said do this film for me and I couldn’t say no. When I started my career, I worked with me. And when I returned to the film sets, I actually had fun. Now, I am doing two more projects.
ON WHAT SHE WANTS TO CHANGE IN BOLLYWOOD
Better insurance policies for light guys and crew and equipment. Because now I’m also working in the West and I have seen the way they work. We have no value for life! And the value for life doesn’t come from the producer. It’s the light guy. If you give him those socks and say, ‘Bhaiyya, yeh pehno aur upar jao’, he’ll say, ‘Mere ko aadat nahi hai.’ There are no insurance policies here. It’s okay if the star gets hurt or something. It’s very easy because we have the financial capability. Luckily, we have some really good actors. If someone gets injured on Shah Rukh Khan or Salman Khan’s set, they actually make sure that the guy is paid for. But I think there has to be some kind of group policy for these guys. In some ways, it should get evened out by the industry. Because they make very little money and they are the sole breadwinners. They are hanging upside down from the light and when it’s raining, it leaks and stuff like that. So insurance policies are needed.
ON DEALING WITH TROLLS
It actually depends on my mood. Sometimes it affects me. If I’m in a mad mood, I block and delete.