The actor discusses her current and future projects, her workout scehule, how her relationship with her body has evolved over time and what keeps her motivated. Below are excerpts from the interview.
Cosmo: What was your experience, working on The Girl On the Train?
Parineeti Chopra: “Honestly, it was life-changing. I have never used these words for a film before...because I have not had such a transformative journey owing to my work. I am much more clear about the direction I want to take in life.”
C: In what ways has this film changed you?
PC: “Before this film, I didn’t know what it meant to ‘find yourself’. I felt like there was this person inside me, and I really wanted to be that person. But I was bogged down by the pressures of doing what other people wanted me to—the stylists, directors, and producers—and I would blindly follow them. However, the people that I worked with on this project pushed me to go after what I really wanted...and suddenly, I felt liberated. I was like, ‘Okay, this is me, and this is the kind of work that I want to do. This is how I would like to dress, and this is where I want to be.’ Everything became so clear to me. So The Girl On the Train is not just another film for me...those two months of shooting showed me who I really am, and I am finally happy to be myself. I found myself as a person and an actor while working on it.
Although, that doesn’t mean that whatever I do now will be right. In the past, I have followed other people’s advice and I wasn’t entirely convinced. But now, I want to go by my conviction and do what I believe is right. Then, if I make a mistake, it is okay, because it is my mistake.
I have always been academically-inclined. I like to do the homework and put in that extra effort...it comes naturally to me because I have been an achiever all my life. When I came to the industry, I didn’t know anything. I was going by what other people thought was right. But now, I have found that process again—of being a student, and retuning to the set prepared. I want to be present in the moment. I may have lost my way in the past three to four years, because I was not being true to myself.”
C: So what other exciting projects are in the pipeline?
PC: “Next, I am looking forward to Saina Nehwal’s biopic. Again, it was not a role that people might expect to see me in, that’s why I wanted to do it. After that, I am working on a film called Animal with Ranbir Kapoor, which is a commercial crime-drama. I am challenging myself to do things that I have not done before and surprise the audience.”
C: What is the secret to your confidence, Parineeti?
PC: “I believe it has roots in a secure childhood. I have not grown up with any f*ck-ups in my mind. I grew up in a small town, Ambala, and I would visit my grandparents in Kenya over my summer holidays. And by the time I was 15 or 16, I had travelled a lot...probably seen half the world. I had friends all over the world, and I was surrounded by good people. I am glad that I was brought up in this way. My parents are very cool and my family is amazing...so I don’t have a lot of hang ups. I don’t think about my body in a negative way. And I want people to not overthink. I train for hours every day, but that comes from a place of wanting to be fit. It is not because I’m insecure. There are a lot of people who get insecure and sad about how they look, and I wish that would change.”
C: How has your relationship with your body evolved over the years?
PC: “I have abused my body with unhealthy eating habits for so many years! I would eat whatever I wanted to and my body would be fine. And I took advantage of that. But, with age, you start to appreciate your body and realise that it is, after all, a machine, and you need to give it the right nutrition. Therefore, I am way more confident now because I take care of my body much more than I did when I was younger.
A lot of people, including journalists, tell me ‘You’ve always been unapologetic about your body,’ I want to clarify that that is the exact opposite of what I want to say. I’ve never been unapologetic. I’ve never said ‘Oh, I was okay being unfit’. I have discovered that being fit is the best thing you can do for yourself. I believe in the philosophy of working out, eating right, and sleeping well.”
Photographs: Taras Taraporevala;
Styling: Zunaili Malik;
Location Courtesy: The Dome at The Intercontinental Hotel, Mumbai;
Production: P. Productions;
Hair and Make-Up: Elton Fernandez;
Fashion Assistant: Humaira Lakdawala and Manveen Guliani;
Fashion Interns: Aarushi Garg and Ananya Banerjee;
Photographer, and Hair and Make-Up Artists’ Agency: Inega Model Management.