When Rakul Preet Singh says she loves her job, she means it. When she signed the upcoming De De Pyaar De, she was told she would have to look completely effortless and toned. She had a deadline of forty-five days – and she lost 8 kgs as a result of tirelessly training for four hours a day. When she says she has chosen this line of work, and every day feels like a day she enjoys, it is refreshing. It is refreshing to hear someone acknowledge a choice, the repercussions and consequences of that choice, and making the best out of it. When Rakul chats with us on the phone, carving out a time out of her busy schedule, it is an energizing conversation – one that has me checking my to-do list and wondering what else I can do to be productive. Here’s my chat:
Are you working 7 days a week, 365 days a year because that is what it seems like…
(Laughs) Yes, I am working very hard and probably 7 and a half days a week, as opposed to 7 (chuckles) but yeah, I have no complaints about it because I love my work. Like, my Twitter accounts says, “Build a Life You Don’t Need a Vacation From” so my job is a vacation for me. I love being on set and that is what I look forward to every single day so that pressure doesn’t really build up. I’m also someone who is very greedy for good work so the more challenging the work is, the more it drives me. I can shoot for longer hours and I am just a workaholic. I love work.
I remember you saying in an interview in the midst of promotions for Aiyaary, when you are shooting for Telugu or Tamil films, there are several hours that you can get some time off for yourself. But between balancing those industries with the Hindi film industry, are you able to find hours for yourself?
See, what I’m doing is also for myself. I’m not doing anyone a favour by being in three different industries and balancing that. That is what I want for my life. I’m not working at a certain rate because somebody has asked me to do so. There is no boss over my head saying you need to finish this work and work on these assignments. I take on assignments that excite me and all that time is my time, and whenever I find a break, I chill. But my work time is my chill time too, you know. That’s what I’m trying to get at - when you are so passionate about something, it doesn’t feel like work.
It’s nice and refreshing to hear that passion –
Exactly! See, nobody has asked me to be an actor. It’s my decision. When you decide to step into being a celebrity or to be in the public eye, you know the pros and cons of it. And of course, you know sometimes you might switch off for a bit. I enjoy every bit of what I do.
It seems as though you were meant to be in a film with Neeraj Pandey.
Yes, I was supposed to do Dhoni and then that didn’t happen, and then I did Aiyaary.
From Aiyaary to De De Pyaar De, they are very different feels, very different spaces, different characters. What is your thought process for prep? Are you somebody who makes a lot of notes, puts your characters in various hypotheticals, or do you go on set and follow the director’s cues completely?
I think it is a little bit of both. I am someone, firstly, when I get my character, I don’t really go into the whole ‘this is what I want to do’. I don’t have a set of rules that I want to follow. I want to experiment. I want to try new characters. And to be honest, when you are starting off in movies and you are new in the industry, you cannot really be choosy with which projects and what you are doing. I have been lucky, even though Aiyaary didn’t work, to get projects and roles after that and lucky that I got De De Pyaar De. De De Pyaar De has an amazing role for me, which the trailer completely showcases. It is the more, what they call, commercial role. You have the songs and dances.
See, I’m someone who goes by my instinct. I liked the story. I wanted to do it. Even when I am shooting day to day, I’m not somebody who rehearses a lot. I am very intuitive as an actor. So, obviously, while I’m shooting, I go by how I think in terms of how the character would behave – and then, I go by instinct. I don’t rehearse too much unless it is a specific scene that requires rehearsal.
So how is the off-screen rapport building like with Ajay Devgn and Tabu, both of whom are very experienced and seasoned actors in the Hindi film industry who have worked together previously?
You know, we are all professionals. They are very good actors and very senior to me, and very experienced. I definitely knew that I had to do my best and push myself because I am working with two absolutely amazing actors. But having said that, the two of them have worked with many newcomers and they give you that comfort as well.
I have also been acting for a while – I gel well and I meet new people every day. It comes with the job. So, both made me feel very comfortable. I didn’t even actually realize that I am actually working with such seasoned actors because they didn’t carry that with them. I just always knew I wanted to give my best. I think when you have a great actor working in front of you, their action leads to a great reaction from you.
How do you relate to somebody like your character in De De Pyaar De – it is a space of mixed, blended families, in which you are the same age as your partner’s kid? How do you prepare for that?
See, I’ll tell you something, if you see the way society is, unless one is in denial, society changes every year. There has been a drastic change in the way in which people think – 2015, 2018, 2019 – now. Earlier, love marriages were a taboo and now love marriages are okay. Inter-caste marriages has now become very normal. And now, there is hopefully a realization that love does not have anything to do with age.
Film or cinema always resonates or tries to bring about what is happening around you – that is why you are making the story. There are so many relationships with age gaps and so many happy couples in those relationships. Look at, for example, Priyanka and Nick. People really don’t care because love is an emotion that shouldn’t look at age. We just haven’t talked about it on a larger scale. Of course, there was a Cheeni Kum but that was a bit of a different context. De De Pyaar De is about two people being in love, and how they complement each other.
It is a very progressive film and I hope that people enjoy it and like it. We’re not trying to teach anything here. It is light-hearted and just come watch.