Preeti Jhangiani had a great start to her acting career with hits in the south and of course her hindi debut mohabbatein be a blockbuster. Having starred in a number of films over the years, Preeti currently plays another role: that of an entrepreneur. Preeti and her husband and fellow actor Parvin Dabas currently run a sports league. The actor couple recently sat down with Hindustan Times to talk about their careers, the changing face of cinema and their partnership in the sports world. Also read: The public will see me on OTT soon, says Preeti Jhangiani
Parvin and Preeti are promoters of the Pro Panja League, an arm wrestling promotion from India. About how they got involved in this unusual sport, Parvin says: ‘Indians are averse to blood sports. But for the masses I felt that panja was something people understood and was simple. And we are emotionally connected to the sport. It has an Indian name and is part of our history. Now we are ready to take off this year.”
Preeti says that while initially “Parvin’s core idea was, now it’s our baby.” In fact, she reveals that she has always been into sports, even before venturing into acting. “In school and college I really loved sports. I was the captain of my baseball team, something we don’t really play in India. I played a lot of throwball and competed in swimming at school level. And now I am really fond of panja, as a spectator I do”, she adds with a laugh.
In recent years, several actors have ventured into the sports world. she it Shah Rukh Khan or Preity Zinta buying IPL teams or Abhishek Bachchan buying a kabaddi team. You might assume that the popularity of actors makes it easier for them, but Parvin says the opposite is often true. He states: “It does open a few doors, but initially the opposite may be the case. People feel like they have an idea, but can’t execute it. That is why we started on our own without speaking to anyone. It can go very against us.”
Following Mohabbatein’s success, Preeti starred in several films, including Awara Pagal Deewana (2002), Aan (2004) and Victoria No 203 (2007), working with everyone from Shah Rukh Khan to Akshay Kumar. But in recent years, she’s taken a sort of break. Ask her if she’s willing to return and she promptly replies, “I wouldn’t say acting ‘again’. I never felt like I wasn’t there or not connected. But yeah, in terms of a real role, sure.” She does add a condition. She says: “The idea is to play an interesting role, something that excites me and justifies me being away from the Pro Panja League. It takes a lot of our attention, but once an actor, always an actor . You can’t take the actor out of me.”
In Mohabbatein, Preeti played a simple, traditional girl, and the actor feels cast into a mold by both filmmakers and audiences after the film’s success. She says: “Initially there was definitely a certain image that the public had of me and didn’t want me to step out. I would say, just in the beginning, there was a lot of typecasting as they called it. However, she feels that there is now enough time has passed and another generation of filmmakers and cinegoers now think differently. “But times have completely changed now, so I don’t think that’s a problem now. Every younger generation has new directors, new stories, new ideas People’s mindsets have changed so much since the many years since my first movie came out,” she adds.
Parvin Dabas was featured in some memorable movies like Monsoon Wedding, Khosla Ka Ghosla and My Name Is Khan to name a few. And he has continued to work, having recently appeared in the Zee5 movie State of Siege and shooting for Amazon Prime Video’s Made in Heaven 2. About the experience of shooting amid the constraints posed by the pandemic, he says he: “You have to be flexible. You can’t think about how it should be. You have to think about how it is. To make the film I made in the US (Room), I had to spend two weeks outside of India in quarantine. Towards the end it starts to tell about your mental abilities. But you have to do it. And even on the set, like in Made in Heaven, they had a very elaborate process, which is good. It’s to keep everyone safe to keep.”