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    Mar 2008

    Arrow 'I'm not the burning bra chick'

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    'I'm not the burning bra chick'
    Preity Zinta is known for speaking her mind. In the Capital recently to announce the arrival of The Golden Ovary Awards in India, she spoke as the ambassador of the Godfrey Phillips Bravery awards.

    Preity is an interesting mix of glamour tantrums and an aware intellect. She?s unafraid to discuss women?s issues over tabloid rumours.

    ?I am not the burning bra kind of feminist chick. But I have the strength to stand behind what I believe in,? she says.

    Having won the Godfrey Phillips National Bravery Award for speaking out in court in the Bharat Shah case, she is now lending support to The Golden Ovary Awards, which she believes will help recognise ?the unsung but not lost women who have lived and worked with the courage of their convictions.?

    Believing that celebrities make a difference, she has previously also supported different campaigns, be it against female foeticide or the spread of HIV.

    She explains, ?When I came into the industry nine years ago, HIV was perceived as the greatest threat. But through different campaigns the prevalence is now said to have dropped.?

    Preity?s first English movie ?The Last Lear,? directed by Rituparno Ghosh, premiered recently at the Toronto International Film Festival. Besides ?The Last Lear,? she will also be seen soon in Jahnu Barua?s forthcoming ?Har Pal? and Deepa Mehta?s ?Heaven on Earth.?

    In ?The Last Lear,? she plays a modern and successful actor struggling in a claustrophobic relationship. While the movie delves into the ethical issues of art, it also explores the currents and cross-currents of three women who happen to come together one night.

    It is not a feminist lecture, yet it strongly explores women?s issues. Preity is positive about the roles that are opening up for women on screen. She sees a change from the typical ?damsel in distress? scenario.

    She asserts, ?Cinema makers have started experimenting more. The characters are getting more real.?

    Preity has been known to take on different if not revolutionary roles in Bollywood. Back in 2000 she played a single mother in ?Kya Kehna.? More recently in 2005, she was seen in ?Salaam Namastey? which dealt with a couple in a live-in relationship.

    While her roles have often explored new territory, movies are never women-centric in Bollywood today.

    Side-stepping the issue, Preity retorts, ?There can?t be a hit movie without a female actor. Try having a man in a sari running around a tree. It wouldn?t work!?

    She puts a positive twist to the dearth of women-centric cinema by saying that the risk for female actors is less. ?If a male actor has five flops, he is dead. If a female actor has five flops, she is in a coma.?

    Bollywood is known for running on its male actors. While it is speculated that the lead actors earn as much as Rs. 10 crores per movie, lead female actors seldom get more than 3 crores.

    The inequality seems glaring, yet Preity doesn?t feel wronged, ?Yes, it?s true that the male stars do get paid more. The female actors are paid less, but they get paid a lot.? She continues, ?But look at the modelling world, the female models are paid much more than the male.?

    Recently, she has been more in the news for reasons other than cinema. Caught by the cameras recently bidding for the Indian Premiere League, it?s clear that her ambitions now sweep beyond celluloid.

    She is currently still riding high after capturing star cricketers such as Harbhajan Singh for her Mohali team. Adjusting her hair, she says jokingly that she?s excited about IPL because ?now people can watch some healthy sport and not those television serials that caricature women!?

    Buying a cricket team is an unusual venture for a female actor, to say the least. But she makes clear that she now wants to learn the business of doing business.

    While emphasising on economic empowerment for women, she adds, ?The point is not to be a man.? With typical candour she adds, ?I was a boy till I was 17! While I like to be strong and tough, I never want to be a man.?

    Having played basketball and participated in athletics in school, Preity hopes to open a sports school in Himachal Pradesh. Will she consider bidding for a women?s cricket team? ?If the bidding opens,? she answers immediately!



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