Preity Zinta: Women’s Empowerment

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Preity Zinta: Women’s Empowerment

Learn English with Preity Zinta. Jackie Aina interviewed Bollywood star Preity Zinta on her journey as an actress, entrepreneur, and feminist activist for the Social Good Master Class in 2016. Preity G Zinta is an Indian actress and entrepreneur best known for her work in Hindi films. Having earned degrees in English honours and criminal psychology, Zinta made her acting debut in Dil Se.. in 1998, followed by a role in Soldier the following year. In this speech, she also quotes: “I don’t think women and girls should limit themselves to anything. I think they should be brave enough to follow their dreams. It’s okay to make mistakes. It’s okay to fall. What’s important is not how hard you fall, but how you get up after you fall.” Watch with big English.


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Preity Zinta Quote:

Preity Zinta Quote

“The fastest way to make you dream come true is to wake up!” Preity Zinta

Preity Zinta – FULL TRANSCRIPT:

Preity:

Hi, good morning, everyone. It’s wonderful to be here. Thank you, Jackie. And we should get on with it.

Interviewer:

Yeah. We’re just going to have a pretty casual conversation about her work and a little bit about what her impact has been. So, I’ll go right into my first question. You’re a celebrated Bollywood actress and you’re also the owner of a cricket team. So, tell me what that transition has been like going from actress to businesswoman because they’re kind of two totally separate things. Tell me what that journey was like for you.

Preity:

Well, it wasn’t the easiest journey, to be honest. Because you see for a woman, cricket is a very macho sport. It’s a man’s world out there. It was easier to fit in the world of cinema as opposed to fitting in the world of sports. But I think I’d like to rewind and go when I was a little girl, my father, he always told me that Indian girls, when they’re little they’re dependent on their fathers when they are married, they’re dependent on their husbands. And when they are older, they’re dependent on their sons. So, I do not want you to be like that. I want you to be independent. I want you to have a mind of your own. And the only way you can do that is if you are financially independent, you can work.

So, I always had that mindset that I wanted to work. And it didn’t matter if, whatever your field is. Like I studied Criminal Psychology and I became an actor. So, life is very spontaneous. It’s not like you make plans and you say, okay, I want to do this, but you end up doing something else. So, I didn’t think when I was acting, I would ever get into the world of sport.

But one day I found an opportunity and I decided I wanted to do it. It was not the easiest, but it was a lot of fun. I worked 18 hour days. And eventually when I look back and think if it isn’t tough, if there isn’t a challenge for you in life, then it’s not that exciting. You know, when things just fall easily into your lap, I guess you don’t appreciate them. So, it’s been a bit of an uphill journey, but it’s been a fun journey.

Interviewer:

Well, since you mentioned spontaneity, I want us to rewind and I’d really like you to just briefly tell us how you got into acting because I think that was a really, really cool story.

Preity:

Okay. So, I was studying Criminal Psychology and my best friend’s boyfriend went to audition for a movie. We were both very poor at that time, so we decided we share a cab. Whoever finishes first would pick the other person up. So, my exam got over. I took my paper and I finished. So, I went to pick him up and there was a major audition happening out there. I of course was always hungry at that time. So, since I didn’t know what to do, I went to the corner and I started eating and I saw the director out there and he just looked at me and he was like, so what are you going to do for me today? And I was like, nothing. And he was like, all right. I said, no, I’m sorry. I haven’t come here to audition. I’ve just come here to pick up my friend.

And so, basically, he just grabbed my hand and took the mic. And he said, everyone, this is a classic case of cold feet. This is what should never happen to you. And he basically just put me in the spot and asked me to audition. And I was like, I don’t really know how to audition. And he was like, just do whatever you want to do. So, I just mumbled and jumbled, and I don’t even know what I did. But two weeks later he asked me to do the movie and I was on my way to Munich. And I thought, instead of me sharing a room with someone, if I do this film, I can have my own room when I study further.

So, it was as simple as that, I just signed on to that film. And I became an actor and the film never happened, but he did this big interview as to how I would be this big star and other people came to sign me on. And I just learned everything on set and I was extremely lucky. I worked with good directors. My first film did very well. My second film did exceptionally well. So, I just became an actor by accident.

Interviewer:

And once you went on to become an actor, you’ve really been kind of praised for it, changing the expectations of what a Hindi heroin can be in film. Can you tell us a little bit about how that process was for you and just, yeah, just give us some tips and inspiration on how that process was for you? Changing expectations of what women are like on film.

Preity:

Well, I think, I don’t think I would try to intellectualize anything and I thought about it so seriously. I was just doing things that suited me. I was never the hot chick. I was never the sex symbol. I was actually very tomboyish. And so, for me, I found it really difficult to be the damsel in distress all the time. I would rather be the person who fought the distress, right? So, instead of focusing on roles that, well I never really got those really pretty, pretty roles anyway. But I wanted to do roles that were more women of substance that, you know, no human being is one dimensional, no woman is one dimensional, but it’s very easy to cast a woman as the object of desire or somebody who’s like help me, please.

And Indian Cinema went through this whole the 50s, the 60s were very rich for roles for women. But then the 70s and the 80s became completely male-centered where the hero was saving the woman. And she was always, you know, she didn’t really have a brain to think for herself. She was always being rescued. So, it just started very simply as me not wanting to be rescued, A.

And I also wanted to do roles that showed what was happening in society at that point. And my first film was about a teenage pregnancy and unwed mother. And we are a country of now I think 1.25, or I don’t know, billion people, and yet it was difficult for us to discuss sex.

So, that film was a way of going out there and saying, okay, you know, there are so many issues, it was an issue-based film. So, there are so many things that you want to talk about and you can do it through a film medium as opposed to just being the glamor woman out there. So, it started off actually very simple. And then I was really lucky. I got some really good roles and of course, I had to work hard at them, but I was also lucky that I never really got the, just stand there and look pretty role. So, I was lucky.

Interviewer:

That’s awesome. And do you also feel like, because you were given those roles and because for the past couple of years, you know, you’ve been pretty vocal about like violence against women and gender biases? Can you tell me a little bit about what it was that kind of like gave you that voice and allowed you to be so vocal about issues like that, which are often shied away from?

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