P R E T T Y P R E I T Y

PLEASE, Let’s hope the feisty ac­tress — who tied the knot re­cently — does not re­tire from the film fir­ma­ment any time soon

WKND - - Bollywood - By khalid mo­hamed

She con­tin­ues to make front- page news — and not al­ways for the right rea­sons. Al­though she doesn’t have a line- up of new projects on her plate, at age 41, Preity Zinta is still out­spo­ken and won’t take any sort of salvo fired against her by the me­dia. For in­stance, when i t was re­ported t hat Preity had lam­basted coach San­jay Ban­gar of her IPL cricket team Kings XI Pun­jab, she re­tal­i­ated on Twit­ter that the story amounted to defama­tion, and in­sisted on an apol­ogy. Ad­mit­tedly, she had lost her cool when her team lost by a sin­gle run to the Royal Chal­lengers Ban­ga­lore, but the in­ci­dent, she claimed, had been blown out of pro­por­tion.

Now, that’s quintessen­tial Preity for you, the girl from Shimla, who was dis­cov­ered by Shekhar Ka­pur at a tal­ent hunt con­test. A grad­u­ate in crim­i­nal psy­chol­ogy, here was an un­usu­ally qual­i­fied can­di­date for the movies.

She was to be in­tro­duced in the mu­si­cal Tara Rum Pum, but the project didn’t fruc­tify. The west­bound di­rec­tor rec­om­mended her to Mani Rat­nam for a sup­port­ing part in Dil Se.., which was fol­lowed by Ab­bas- Mus­tan’s Sol­dier and Kun­dan Shah’s Kya Kehna, and a star was estab­lished in the Bollywood fir­ma­ment.

The Preity Zinta I’ve known over the years can be as warm and en­dear­ing as she can be ar­gu­men­ta­tive and im­petu­ous. Per­haps it’s the tough film­mak­ing sys­tem which has made not only her, but a ma­jor­ity of hero­ines that way. It’s no se­cret that lead­ing ladies just don’t com­mand the same sta­tus and pay packet as their male coun­ter­parts do. Also, a woman is more vul­ner­a­ble to crit­i­cism and dis­par­age­ment.

Mer­ci­fully, Preity has man­aged to speak out loud and clear, be it in the course of le­gal cases in­volv­ing the un­der­world, or on be­ing sub­jected to ques­tion­able be­hav­iour by a for­mer boyfriend at Mum­bai’s Wankhede cricket sta­dium. That con­tro­versy fiz­zled out grad­u­ally. Clearly, the ac­tress has demon­strated that she wasn’t the sort to be sub­ju­gated.

The Preity Zinta I’ve known over the years can be as warm and en­dear­ing as she can be ar­gu­men­ta­tive and im­petu­ous...

Yet, I can’t help feel­ing that the need­less ob­sta­cles that she has had to clear in her pri­vate life did hin­der her pro­fes­sion­ally. She could have evolved into a ver­sa­tile artiste. Given her self- con­fi­dence and cam­era- friendly looks ( high­lighted by deep dim­ples), she could have ef­fort­lessly been the No 1 hero­ine. With­out a doubt, she was among the Alis­ters dur­ing the late 1990s and through most of the first decade of the new millennium.

Her most im­pres­sive, crowd- pleas­ing per­for­mances were ev­i­denced in Kal Ho Naa Ho, Koi… Mil Gaya, Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna, Dil Chahta Hai, Salaam Na­maste and Veer- Zaara. Plus, there was that one- off foray into art- house cin­ema with the Canada- an­chored di­rec­tor Deepa Me­hta’s Heaven on Earth. The por­trayal of an op­pressed house­wife fetched Preity the Sil­ver Hugo Award for Best Ac­tress at the Chicago Film Fes­ti­val.

Un­for­tu­nately, a sta­sis set in next. The feisty ac­tress ap­peared to have lost the vi­tal killer in­stinct, ex­plained to an ex­tent by her di­ver­sion into the field of sport en­trepreneur­ship and into the peril- fraught area of film pro­duc­tion. The Paris- lo­cated rom­com Ishq For­ever — dig­ni­fied with the pres­ence of the leg­endary French ac­tress Is­abelle Ad­jani — was an un­mit­i­gated dis­as­ter, re­jected by the masses as well as the man­darins.

Alas, Preity was no longer hap­pen­ing. If news sur­faced about her, it wasn’t ex­actly com­pli­men­tary — till she an­nounced her mar­riage in Fe­bru­ary to Gene Good­e­nough, vice- pres­i­dent of a re­newal en­ergy com­pany in Los An­ge­les. Al­lud­ing to his sur­name, she tweeted that now puns would pour in on his sur­name. Let them roll, the more the mer­rier.

And the re­cep­tion in Mum­bai ear­lier this month to in­tro­duce Mr Good­e­nough to her friends from show busi­ness was packed to the gills — the most prom­i­nent at­ten­dees be­ing Shah Rukh and Sal­man Khan.

Is Preity back in the fray then? Right now, she has only one long- de­layed project ti­tled Bhaiyyaji Su­per­hitt, toplin­ing Sunny Deol, in the pipe­line.

Some­thing tells me that that there’s an in­cal­cu­la­ble num­ber of Zinta fans all over the world, who’d celebrate her re­turn to the movies. Sooner the bet­ter. CROWD PLEASER: Preity made a string of hits in the noughties, in­clud­ing ( top to

Kal Ho Naa Ho..., Veer Zaara, Salaam Na­maste, Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna, Heaven on Earth ( far left)

The feisty ac­tress ap­peared to have lost the vi­tal killer in­stinct, ex­plained to an ex­tent by her di­ver­sion into the field of sport en­trepreneur­ship and film pro­duc­tion...

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