To play the beauty opposite Uday’s geek in Pyaar Impossible, YRF and director Jugal Hansraj went with the beauty of Bollywood and one of its best actresses Priyanka Chopra. In the film Priyanka plays Alisha, who is a rock chick, the popular girl who is the object of love for Uday’s character Abhay. According to Priyanka, it was the script, which she calls magic, that enticed her to do the role. In this interview Priyanka gives us the inside scoop on working with Jugal “acha” Hansraj, how much fun it was working with Uday and how he spoiled her and of course about her role in the film! Enjoy!
How did the movie happen?
That’s a really interesting question! I think Uday and Jugal met me at some point and gave me the script to read. But I think it took about 4 months to happen, because I usually take a little time to know whether it is something I need to do or not for sure. The one thing I knew about PI was that it was just magic as a script. I started reading it thinking I might fall asleep because I was shooting for Kaminey at that time, but when I started reading, I just could not put it down, and I was reading it till about 4am! That’s when I knew there was something about it. And I was finally on! It’s actually that simple!
Did Jugal read the script to you? If yes, how did he read it?
Jugal’s known for his animation movies. I did not know that. I think the most animated thing that he actually does is saying “acha“. And Jugal wasn’t the one who narrated the film to me, it was Uday. And it was probably best, since he had written the film. During the narration Jugal was sitting right there. I thought, “this Director doesn’t talk at all. How is he going to ever tell me what to do?!” But once I got to know him, it went way beyond just “acha“.
Would you like to share the story with us?
The story is about this guy called Abhay Sharma, and starts off in college. He absolutely loves this girl called Alisha Merchant. He is a little bit of geek. He loves his computer and academics whereas this girl is fun, spunky, spontaneous and the most popular girl in the college. They never speak; she doesn’t even know he exists. And how one day after she gets out of school, he is heartbroken and then how about 6 – 7 years later, they meet again. She doesn’t still know who he is, but this time they come back in each other’s life all over again and get to know each other. It’s a beautiful love story – so sensitively written yet so funny.
How is it working with Uday as a co star?
Uday brings out the madness in me. He is always feeding me. He calls for the best food, and I have a little bit of a weakness for food. He will call for all kinds of cuisines and then I overeat and keep becoming fatter. And he meanwhile will go to the gym and work out. But oh God!! We have had so many fun times on this film. Crazy things – like we never used to sleep. After pack up Jugal, Uday, Ahmed and me used to go to like 24 hour coffee shops, and stay awake till 6 in the morning and talk just about nothing and everything. We used to look at each other and just start laughing. Uday is the best Producer I have worked with. He spoils me silly. I told him, ‘I don’t think I will be able to work with anybody else’. He is lovely – as a Producer, as an actor and as a writer.
Tell us something about your character Alisha Merchant.
She is a girl who gets married when she was really young. She is a little bit of a mess in herself. When Abhay sees her, he sees her as a princess who is totally unachievable. She is always trying to please everyone – her friends, her boss, but with Abhay she doesn’t have to, she can be just be herself. That’s the most beautiful thing about their relationship.
Did you prepare for the role?
I just didn’t. I just went in there and I had to be me and that just kind of worked.
Did you have a lot of look tests pre-shoot?
Yes, we did a lot of readings and look tests, because I had to have short hair and I have never had short hair. I just wanted to do something dramatic with Alisha, as she is very stylish so we thought we go short. We had this look test for clothes but most with the hair. Also, for the clothes, Manish (Malhotra) wanted to make sure we got it right. She had to be all colors, and casual sheek.
Tell us something about your college look.
You know, you have this convention that while you are in college you have short hair and by the time you grow older you have long hair. But we just didn’t want to go with that convention. So, while I was in college I kept long hair and by the time Alisha gets older she just chops her hair. That’s how I thought she would do. The college look was a lot of fun but more spunkier. She is the kind of person who does what she wants. She loves water sports, roller-blading. She is a sporty, fun chick, but is girly at the same time.
How is Jugal Hansraj as a Director?
I think this ‘overacting meter’ is fitted somewhere inside of him. He is very particular about “I think yeh thoda sa jyada ho gaya” (I think that was a bit too much). He is very clear about ‘how much or how less’. He does it with so much grace and he is so chilled out! You never feel you are working and there is no pressure of “let’s hurry up and all.” I never felt like I was working on a film.
The Director of Photography (DoP), Santosh Thundiyil, has worked in Pyaar Impossible. It looks like a light-hearted film, what do you want to say about it?
Well, I enjoy working with Santosh Sir. We have a great working relationship with each other. I have worked with him before on a few earlier films. He just shows his diversity as a DoP in Pyaar Impossible. This film looks completely different from the ones we did together. It’s got a freshness to it. The colors are enhanced. Everyone looks great. I think he could do it because is he always in a good mood. We were always making fun of him because of his accent and he was always making fun of ours. It was just done in great spirit.
What about your choreographer, Ahmed Khan?
Well, I have known Ahmed for a long time now. He has outdone himself in this film. He is very intelligent. He never lets go of the story. He never lets go of the emotional crux of the moment for the sake of style. He has kept his choreography simple because it’s a simple story.
What are your thoughts on the title of the film, Pyaar Impossible?
I just love the title, I think it is funny! It sums up the film in its entirety. That’s what the movie is about. Abhay thinks that there is no way this pyaar can be possible. When you see these two people in a frame, you just say “ok, there is no way this can happen because they are such different people!” I think the title is apt for the film.
Music plays a key role in your screenplay. What are your thoughts on the music directors – Salim & Suleiman?
I think they are hugely talented. I have worked with them before. Pyaar Impossible is a feel good movie, so every song makes you feel good. Every song makes you feel for the character. And primarily, that’s what you want the music to do. The first time I heard the songs, I was trying to sing the song ‘Alisha’, but Anushka has sung the song so much better than me. The songs are amazing and so correct with the characters.
Tell us about ‘Alisha’ – the song?
The song ‘Alisha’ is about a girl in college and Abhay’s point of view of her. You know, both of them are singing “main kahan tu kahan”. They are both singing the same line but both are doing it from their own perspective. It’s an amazing song! It was raining when we were on the beach and we used pray for the rain to stop. Inevitably it would rain between the shots, we never had to wait for the rain to go away. I think when we were shooting Alisha, we shot it in beaches, university, but more than anything it was actually the fact that we were enjoying what we were doing. There was not much choreography, it was just grooving to the music because the groove of ‘Alisha’ is very interesting.
What is “Rockmantics”?
Rockmantics is the name of my band in college. I have never played the guitar, but realized that I have to play one on the day of the shoot! Thankfully Ahmed knows how to play one, so he showed me how to hold it correctly and also taught me a few chords. I think it eventually turned out great so I am happy!
How about the title track, ‘Pyaar Impossible’?
‘Pyaar Impossible’ is a song about how Abhay tells Alisha that it’s not easy being a geek because you don’t get attention from people. But she insists that people can’t be so shallow that they talk to you only if you are beautiful, there has to be something beyond it. So Abhay offers to dress Alisha as a geek and tells her, that if she can get one telephone number from any guy, he’ll believe that the world is not as bad as he thinks it is. That’s what the song is about – she is saying its possible and Abhay is saying it’s impossible. You’ll see in the song that none of the guys even look at her so she feels dejected and that’s one thing Abhay can’t stand, so he sings “no it’s possible”. I think the song is so cute; there are some really nice moments in it.
How was it shooting in Clark Quay?
It was really nice. We shot there late at night, there were Singaporeans looking at us and dancing in the middle of the song! I was acting like a lunatic and dressed as a geek .We used to eat rubbish – different foods from Lebanese to Mexican. Our entire schedule was based on what are we going to eat, shooting was just incidental.
‘You and Me’ – tell us something about that!
‘You and Me’ is an awesome song. It’s got a great groove; I think it will be a very popular number! We are still Alisha and Abhay and there are characters coming and interacting with these two characters. They are random characters. It’s a fun music video.
How did you come up with your geek look in the title song, Pyaar impossible?
Well Manish has this thing that the actress has to look lovely, but we came on set and I was in the geek look. I was wearing a headband and all, but it looked studious – not unattractive. When Ahmed came on to the set and saw me, he immediately commented, “I would go out with that chick!” We were like, “what no, no would you like to give her your number?” He was like, of course! We were in in trouble! My team and I went inside the tent and Priyanka, my hair dresser, and Subbu, we said, “let’s just screw it up”. So my hair was frizzed up, strange kajal put on eyes, dark lipstick and all. Because Abhay was the one who was transforming Alisha into a geek, and he would not know anything on makeup, our logic was that Abhay would try and make her look weird. That’s how he will prove his point. So we came out with that make up and Ahmed said, “that’s it, I would not give her my number because that looks psychotic”. And we knew we had the perfect look!
In one of the songs, you have shot with kids. How was the experience?
I adore kids and I had an amazing time working with the kids on the film. But there were times when we were like ‘stop it, let’s get this shot done’. One would smile, the other one would start crying, another one would show attitude. Ahmed used to go mad. I used to just fall asleep. I used to tell them, ‘wake me up when the shot is ready’ because it would take two hours for the shot to get ready. But eventually the song looks fine and the kids are looking so lovely.
What about the fun sequence of ‘You and Me’…
I think the miniatures are really cool. The video will take you by surprise.
This is your first Yash Raj film. How was the experience working with them?
I feel Yashraj is home now. Anyway, it’s just 10 minutes away from my house. I have had great memories here. My make-up room has become my room. Every time I shoot, I use that room only. I used to have pounding music when I came in the morning so everyone knew Priyanka is here! I have had some great times. Though I think YRF always spoils all its actors so it was bound to happen.
You celebrated your birthday on the sets of Pyaar Impossble. Comment.
Ya, I celebrated my birthday on the Pyaar Impossible set. I got this giant card signed by everybody on the set and in the center it had a picture of the entire crew. It was so sweet and touching. My favourite cake was called and I got all lumpy and almost cried and everyone sang for me. It was really sweet of the PI crew, I had so much fun!
From this interview it certainly seems like they had a blast making this film and from what we can see, that has definitely translated on film! Make sure and see Pyaar Impossible this Friday to see if a happy ending is in store for our desi Beauty and the Geek!