Preity Zhangiani had a great start to her acting career with hits down south and of course, her Hindi debut Mohabbatein was a blockbuster. Preeti, who has acted in several films over the years, is currently playing a different role – that of a businessman. Preity and her husband and fellow actor Parveen Dabas currently run a sports league. The actor couple recently sat down with Hindustan Times to talk about their careers, the changing world of cinema and their work in sports. Also read: Preeti Jangiani says audience will see me soon in OTT
Parveen and Preeti are the promoters of the Pro Panja League, an arm-wrestling promotion based out of India. Talking about how he got involved in this unusual sport, Parveen says, “Indians are averse to blood sports. But for the masses, I thought Panja was understandable and simple for people. And we are emotionally connected to sports. It has an Indian name and part of our history. Now, we are all set to take off in a big way this year.
“Initially the core idea was Parveen’s, now it’s our baby,” says Preeti. In fact, he reveals that he was always involved in sports before he ventured into acting. “I was really into sports in school and college. I was the captain of my baseball team, which is not something we really play in India. I played a lot of throwball and I participated in swimming competitions at school level. And now, I’m really in the palm of my hand as a viewer,” he adds with a laugh.
Over the past few years, several actors have entered the world of sports. Be it Shah Rukh Khan or Preity Zinta buying IPL teams or Abhishek Bachchan buying a Kabaddi team. One might assume that actors’ popularity would make it easy for them, but Parvin says, often the opposite is true. He argues, “It opens some doors but initially it can be counterproductive. People think they have an idea but are unable to implement it. That’s why we started on our own, without consulting anyone. It can go against us.”
After the success of Mohabbatein, Preity starred in several films including Pagal Deewana (2002), On (2004), and Victoria No 203 (2007), working with everyone from Shah Rukh Khan to Akshay Kumar. But he has taken a break of sorts over the past few years. Ask her if she’s ready to go back and she immediately replies, “I wouldn’t say ‘again’ acting. I’ve never felt out of it or out of touch. But yes, in terms of the actual role, definitely.” However, she adds a proviso. She says, “The thought of having an interesting role, it excites me and warrants my time from the Pro Panja League. It needs a lot of our attention but once an actor, always an actor. You can’t take the actor out of me.
In Mohabbatein, Preity played the role of a simple, traditional girl and the actor feels that she was molded by the filmmakers and the audience after the film’s success. He says, “Initially, for sure, the audience had a certain image of me and I didn’t want to come out. I would say very early on, there was a lot of typecasting, as they say. However, he feels that enough time has passed now and different generations of filmmakers and cinematographers now think differently. “But times have completely changed now, so I don’t think it’s a problem now. In every young generation, there are new directors, new stories, new ideas. People’s mindset has changed a lot since my first film released many years ago,” he says.
Parveen Dabas has appeared in some memorable films like Monsoon Wedding, Khosla Ka Ghosla, and My Name Is Khan. And he was recently seen in the Zee5 movie State of Siege and filming for Amazon Prime Video’s Made in Heaven 2. “You have to be flexible. You can’t think about how things should be. You have to think about how things are. For a film I shot in the US (Room), I had to quarantine myself outside India for two weeks. Its By the end, it starts to tell on your mental abilities. But you have to do it. And even on a set like Made in Heaven, they had a really elaborate process, which is good. It’s to keep everybody safe.”