Priyanka Chopra can kick butt. And she knows how to look good while doing it. She plays bodyguard to a superhero in the forthcoming Drona, opposite Abhishek Bachchan, and a pop star of the future in the recently released Love Story 2050. She talks to Lounge about her forthcoming films and her style in each of them. Edited excerpts:
Red hair, huh?
Hmm, interesting conversation. Well, the film is set in the future and I’m playing two different characters. I’m not saying girls in 2050 will have red hair. My character is a pop star, so I could have an eccentric streak. She’s a diva, she’s boisterous, loud, so we could make it a little wild. She’s soft at the same time, because she’s lonely. I had to colour my own hair, not wear a wig, and that freaked me out. My hair was ruined by the end, but I really missed it when it was gone.
Red alert: In Love Story 2050
You’ve done some action scenes in your upcoming film Drona. Do you have a dream action role?
I never thought I could do action, but after I finished Drona, I realized I could. I’ve never thought about my dream action role, but some of the stuff I’ve done in Drona is like a dream. In some scenes, I can’t believe it’s me. I guess adrenalin makes you do a lot more than you think you can.
I loved every minute of it. I was fighting on top of a moving train going at like 60km an hour with the wind blowing. When I saw some of it, I thought people are going to think it’s a double, but I haven’t used a double at all. In fact, I tore my ab muscle doing somersaults. I had no idea you had to warm up before attempting it.
How did you prepare for Drona?
This is a sword and kirpan fighting, Indian martial arts kind of action. I trained in gatka (a Sikh martial art) and kirpan fighting. It’s important to warm up before you do these kind of scenes and I didn’t do that, which is why I tore my muscle. I’ve been doing splits and somersaults since I was 9. I wanted to be a gymnast or a trapeze artist.
What costumes does an Indian female action star wear?
When you’re doing action, you need something that is flexible. In Drona, I wear one costume throughout the film, but in different colours. So it had to be comfortable, yet look glamorous.
Future perfect: Chopra plays a pop star in her latest movie and a bodyguard in her next.
I’m wearing pants which stretch. They’re tight, they’re almost painted on me, but they stretch. So, when I kick, or I’m moving or running, they don’t restrict me. It’s very important to have pants made with stretch fabric, otherwise they’ll keep tearing. That would be a bit embarrassing.
I wore boots with 4-5-inch heels, but they’re platforms and were very comfortable. They were tight on my feet, so I could run. The top is like a tunic, it’s flowy and gives the character’s look a touch of Indian-ness. I’m also wearing a turban on my head. It’s pretty cool.
Ever worn a catsuit?
I have, but I don’t particularly like catsuits. I think they’re kind of vulgar. Maybe, if they were made with a thicker fabric like denim, which doesn’t bunch up in certain places. Just not spandex and lycra. That looks terrible. I always recommend wearing heels with catsuits because they show the real length of your legs and will always extend (the length of) your legs a bit more.
Do you have a look you fantasize about trying out for an action role?
Whether it looks good or not, it better be comfortable. The clothes have to contour the body in a good way and they have to move well. As a girl, if you‘re wearing something fluid, it accentuates your movements, and you look graceful, but still strong. I think that would be really nice.
You’re a superhero in a new Virgin comic as well.
Virgin has worked on comics with a lot of interesting people such as Shekhar Kapur, John Woo, Quentin Tarantino, Nicolas Cage and Sachin Tendulkar.
I used to make comics when I was a kid. I used to draw stories and stuff. So I really wanted to create a character. I believe in fairy tales, so she’s not just a fighting machine, but endearing as well.
So is she a superhero?
Well, she doesn’t know she is, but (voice drops) she kinda is.
Ever been in a real fight?
I was in one in school in America, on the basketball court, when I was 15. I broke a girl’s nose, actually. She was being really nasty to me; character assassination to the hilt. Then she got racist and I got really pissed off. I still have scars on my knees from that fight. She scratched my face, which pissed me off even more. I was like, ‘not the face!’ She was quite short, so that helped. Afterwards, I felt so bad; I couldn’t believe I broke her nose, even though inside I felt really cool and strong. The next day, when I walked into school, I was the dude.
In the superhero context, what do you think of black, heels and leather?
It’s dark and mysterious if you wear black as a superhero; it makes you slick. I love colour but I don’t particularly like Superman’s outfit. Wearing underwear over spandex tights isn’t very superhero-ish. But he’s Superman, and we love him.
I love heels on women; I think I was born with heels. Without them, I feel very short and not confident enough. I’m five feet-six-and-a-half inches. Please don’t forget that half, it’s very important. But when I wear heels I feel fabulously tall.
I like leather to a point. An entire outfit is trying too hard. A jacket is great, but don’t wear leather pants or boots with it. I love the way stretch leather fits. If you wear stretch leather pants with a nice top, it always looks great.