Working with newcomers is an uphill task, says Preity Zinta, who will be seen opposite debutant Rhehan Malliek in her maiden production venture Ishkq In Paris.
Recalling her debut film Dil Se in 1998, she doffs her hat to her first co-stars Shah Rukh Khan and Manisha Koirala for being patient with her.
"I was working with a new guy and it was very tough. I realised how Shah Rukh and Manisha made me feel comfortable in my first film 'Dil Se'. I thanked both of them," Preity said.
"Shah Rukh was so patient with me, he helped me a lot. I was not aware about anything - be it the camera angle, close up shot or body language. I learned a lot of things from Shah Rukh. It takes a big heart to do all those things. Hats off to these actors who work with new heroines. It is difficult," she added.
The film was originally planned with two newcomers, but director Prem Raj zeroed in on Preity for the lead role.
"We never wanted an established star for the film. As a producer I had first decided we will make it as a small budget film when we were developing our script; one day Prem told me I have to be part of it. I refused. Later, I thought about it and agreed," she explained.
After acting in about 35 films, Preity, 37, didn't want to be associated with a film which embarrassed her; so she ensured that the Ishkq In Paris script is strong.
"There is some experience that I have, considering the work that I have done. I just wanted to make sure that our script is amazing. I just wanted that if I put my name to a film, I should not be embarrassed. I want to be part of films that are entertaining and have a message," she told IANS in a group interaction.
Acting took a backseat when Preity turned a businesswoman and associated herself with her Indian Premier League (IPL) team King XI Punjab that she co-owns with Ness Wadia and Mohit Burman.
"When I started with IPL, everyone was asking how can you be the number one actress and leave everything, but I wanted to follow my heart. I was not getting excited about acting and films then," she said.
Production was not an easy task for her, but she enjoyed it.
"I used to think if I can handle IPL, then I can do anything. But producing a film was very tough," said the actress who has been part of hits like "Kal Ho Naa Ho", "Koi Mil Gaya", and "Salaam Namaste".
Last seen in the lead role in 2008 release "Heroes", Preity said that she would have come back before, "but was away because I wanted to sort out court cases, I wanted to clear the names."
She seems satisfied with the work she has done so far.
"When I entered the film industry, all I wanted to do was to keep doing good work, I never exposed, (didn't have any) affairs with anyone from here.
"I never got into films because my family was starving...It was all about being independent. With 'Dil Se' I became popular, then 'Soldier', 'Kya Kehna' became hit, 'Sangharsh' brought critical acclaim to me. I was happy that I was appreciated for my work. There were films that came my way so that part was easy, but I worked towards it," she said.
Writing seems to be next on her agenda. She is busy compiling a book where she has put in all false gossips of various celebrities printed by the media.
"I am writing a book, it is 50 percent complete. It started off as a joke, but then I am quite serious about it. Every article of mine and any other actor, which is absolutely wrong, I will get it printed in the book," she said.
(Anjuri Nayar can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)