window.dataLayer = window.dataLayer || []; function gtag(){dataLayer.push(arguments);} gtag('js', new Date()); gtag('config', 'UA-123786708-2'); Diana Penty: There is place in the industry for people who don’t come from a film background – TNT
Wed. Aug 22nd, 2018

Diana Penty: There is place in the industry for people who don’t come from a film background

Model-turned-actress Diana Penty, who debuted in Cocktail (2012) as the girl next door, waited for the right role for almost two years, to avoid getting stereotyped. That’s when Happy Bhag Jayegi (2016) came her way. The film was a success at the box office, and now the second instalment in the franchise, Happy Phirr Bhag Jayegi, is up for release. In a candid chat with BT, Diana talks about how even though the industry is perceived to be nepotistic, there is still place for outsiders, why she felt directionless after doing her first film and how she was body shamed while growing up. Excerpts…

You were the leading lady in Happy Bhag Jayegi. In the second instalment, Happy Phirr Bhag Jayegi, Sonakshi Sinha is headlining the cast. Is your role that of a parallel lead?

I have no qualms in saying that this is Sonakshi Sinha’s film. My character, along with the others, helps in taking the story forward. When I read the script, I liked the fact that it revolved around the idea of mistaken identity.

You delivered a hit with the first film in the franchise, so why isn’t Happy Phirr Bhag Jayegi revolving around your character?

The first part did well enough for the makers to consider making a second film and converting it into a franchise. That makes me feel proud and satisfied. This film is bigger and better. I would like to see it that way.

You’ve worked with Deepika Padukone in Cocktail and now, with Sonakshi Sinha. Deepika has risen to the top, despite being an outsider and Sonakshi, who comes from a film background, is also successful in her own right. Have you seen a difference between them that perhaps stayed with you?

I don’t think of it as a big deal when an actor’s child gets an opportunity easier than somebody else. What they do with that opportunity is what matters at the end of the day. Having said that, there is place in the industry for people who don’t come from a film background as well. Deepika, Anushka Sharma and Priyanka Chopra are successful actresses and they have made it on their own.

There was a four-year gap between the release of Cocktail and Happy Bhag Jayegi. What transpired in those four years?

Cocktail was the best thing that happened to me. It brought me into the world of films, which I didn’t know at that time I would enjoy a lot. Movies happened accidentally. Overall, I had a great time working in Cocktail andfigured that this, perhaps, is something that I could do long-term as well. My role in the film also led to me being slotted as an actor. After Cocktail, filmmakers couldn’t see me as anything else, but as the goody-two-shoes girl next door. I wanted to break out of that perception and that’s why, it took a while for me to do Happy Bhag Jayegi. Also, Bollywood was alien to me and I didn’t know how it worked. I was directionless and didn’t know what my next step should be. I wasn’t sure whose advice I should take into consideration because everybody was advising me! Yet, I didn’t have that one person who could mentor or guide me in Bollywood. I had to figure it out along the way. When I was offered Happy Bhag Jayegi, no one expected me to play the role of this loud, vivacious and no-holds-barred Punjabi girl. In fact, I didn’t see myself like that (laughs). I am very soft-spoken and for the film, I had to learn to talk loudly. It took a while for me to get into the skin of the character and I engaged in workshops to pull that off.Nonetheless, it was liberating.

Before Happy Bhag Jayegi (2016), director Mudassar Aziz’s film Dulha Mil Gaya (2010) wasn’t successful at the box office.Did you have any apprehensions about working with him because of that?

Everything in this industry is unpredictable and transient. That’s why you can’t judge somebody based on their success and failures. Everybody deserves a second chance. Sometimes, talent remains untapped. When Mudassar narrated the script to me, he seemed like a confident director. In fact, he told me not to watch his first film (laughs). The dialogues of Happy… were written by him and the film’s humour was in the writing. I have always gone with my gut and at that time, it felt right. Most of us associate comedy in Bollywood films with adult humour. This film broke away from that.

You started you career in showbiz as a model. Were you advised by people to join Bollywood because of your good looks?

Everybody told me that I should become a model because I was tall and skinny. But, it had the opposite effect on me, because being called skinny scarred me. I was a skinny girl, so people would come up to my mother and ask her if I was well-fed at home. It is so insensitive. You don’t go around telling somebody who is overweight that they are fat, likewise, being constantly commented upon for being skinny is also body shaming.

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