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From beauty pageant to celluloid

Making her silver screen debut through a Tamil film, Priyanka Chopra, Miss World 2000, is confident that she will win people's hearts. S. R. ASHOK KUMAR writes.

"I like Tamil films" ... Priyanka Chopra with Vijay in "Thamizhan".

PRIYANKA CHOPRA, Miss World 2000, is the heroine of GV Films' ``Thamizhan." Her first film in Tamil, in which she is paired with Vijay. What does she think of Tamil films? Did the beauty pageant in any way help her to become a film star? These and many more questions are answered by Priyanka Chopra in this interview.

Can you give us your impression of ``Thamizhan?"

``Thamizhan'' is directed by Majeeth. The whole unit is brilliant and the story is refreshing.

Are you working on many films?

I am doing seven films in Hindi. Three are on the floors. ``Ambhi Kush Thumbi Kush'' by Sathish Kaushik with Anil Kapoor and Saif Ali Khan. The second, untitled starring Sunil Shetty and Bobby Deol directed by Mahesh Manjrekar. The other film is ``Asar-The Impact'' with Dilip Kumar and Ajay Devgan. It is directed by Kukoo Kohli. The fourth film, ``Gandhi," is with Sunny Deol.

What about the story?

I have been instructed not to reveal the story to the media but I can say that the hero derives inspiration from my character or can we say that I am the hero's strength. In the first half I play a bubbly person and in the second I become very serious, a mixture of emotions and feelings.

What made you accept the offer?

I heard that Mr. G.V. is one of the big producers who has given several box office hits. In this film also he has brought in big stars like Vijay and a young team that means business. To do a film with a good unit at the beginning will certainly help my career.

Do you think the Miss World title helped you enter the film world or would you have anyway chosen to act in movies?

Well... winning the pageant has certainly helped me. It got me recognition and fame. With that came films.

Have you observed any difference in the way Hindi and Tamil films are done?

My impression is that the Tamil film industry does the work faster and in a planned manner. A lot of planning goes into Hindi films too, but it takes time. Here it is fast and done perfectly also. .

Can we say that pageants actually involve acting skills?

Not really. It is more general knowledge and they ask questions about anything under the Sun. The only way to prepare for the pageant is to think of the questions which had been asked in the past 50 years. Acting is something else. Even in the Miss World contest as such, there is no acting. The only acting part is perhaps the camera and the people. But then the pageant has helped me face the people. I am not nervous in front of an audience any more. I have done theatre anyway... in Boston. I was studying in school there. I acted in ``Romeo and Juliet", ``Fiddler on the Roof,'' and others. I used to assist back stage also. I am trained in Western classical, chorus and choir singing. I also learnt a bit of Kathak.

How did you happen to enter the Miss India pageant?

My family sent my photograph to the contest and I was selected. The rest just happened.

Did you have training in acting?

I did a three-month course with Kishore Amit Kapoor in Mumbai. I feel one must always train in the chosen field. Dancing for instance. Raju Sundaram, the choreographer, is brilliant in his work. Amazing. He has been very helpful and understanding. In fact the whole unit is very nice.

Your family sure has played a big role in your progress... Certainly. My parents never forced me to do anything. My mother is a gynaecologist and has done her doctorate in Kathak. She is a versatile person and has been my sole inspiration. She accompanies me wherever I go. She is my best friend and the worst critic. My father is from Punjab. He is a doctor and worked as a surgeon in the army. My brother is 12 years old and is studying in Boston. I treat him more like a child.

What about your co-artiste Vijay?

Vijay is very helpful. Very sweet. I am really enjoying the schedule and having a good time.

Have you gathered any background on Tamil films?

The minute I knew that I was going to do a Tamil film I started seeing Tamil films. I also started watching Tamil channels to know more about Tamil films, particularly about Vijay. I also saw a few of his movies. I like Tamil films. I am keeping my eyes open and trying to pick up the Tamil accent. Tamil is beautiful but also very difficult. Learning it will take a long time.

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