Preeti Jhangiani had a stellar start to her acting career, with hits in the south and, of course, a blockbuster in her Hindi debut, Mohabbatein. After appearing in a number of films over the years, Preeti is now taking on a new role as an entrepreneur. Preeti is currently running a sports league with her husband, fellow actor Parvin Dabas. The actor couple recently spoke with Hindustan Times about their careers, the changing face of cinema, and their collaborative work in sports.

Parvin and Preeti run the Pro Panja League, an arm-wrestling promotion based in India. Parvin explains how they became involved in this unusual sport, “Indians are averse to bloodsport.” However, I felt that panja was something that the general public understood and was simple. And we have an emotional attachment to the sport. It has an Indian name and is significant in our history. We’re about to take off in a big way this year.”

Several actors have ventured into the world of sports in recent years. Whether it’s Shah Rukh Khan or Preity Zinta investing in IPL teams or Abhishek Bachchan investing in a kabaddi team. One might think that actors’ celebrity makes it easier for them, but according to Parvin, the opposite is often true. “It does open a few doors,” he says, “but it can be the opposite at first.” People believe they have an idea but will be unable to carry it out. That’s why we started on our own, without approaching anyone. It has the potential to work against us.”

Following the success of Mohabbatein, Preeti appeared in several films, including Awara Pagal Deewana (2002), Aan (2004), and Victoria No 203 (2007), collaborating with actors ranging from Shah Rukh Khan to Akshay Kumar. She has, however, taken a brief hiatus in recent years. When asked if she is willing to return, she responds, “I wouldn’t say ‘again.'” I never just felt disconnected or disconnected. But in terms of an actual role, absolutely.” She does, however, include a condition. “The idea is to have an interesting role, something that excites me and justifies my time away from the Pro Panja League,” she says.

It demands a lot of our time and attention, but once an actor, always an actor. You won’t be able to take the actor out of me.”

Preeti played a simple, traditional girl in Mohabbatein, and the actor believes she was cast in a mould by both the filmmakers and the audience after the film’s success. “Initially, there was a certain image that the audience had of me that they didn’t want me to get out of,” she says. I’d say there was a lot of typecasting, as they put it, at first.” However, she believes that enough time has passed and that a new generation of filmmakers and moviegoers has emerged. “But times have changed, and I don’t think that’s an issue anymore.” Every generation has new directors, stories, and ideas.

People’s attitudes have shifted dramatically since my first film was released many years ago,” she adds.

Parvin Dabas has appeared in films such as Monsoon Wedding, Khosla Ka Ghosla, and My Name Is Khan, to name a few. And he’s kept busy, most recently appearing in the Zee5 film State of Siege and filming for Amazon Prime Video’s Made in Heaven 2. When asked about shooting under the constraints imposed by the pandemic, he says, “You have to be flexible.” You can’t imagine how things should be. You must consider how things are. I had to quarantine for two weeks outside of India to shoot the film I did in the US (Room).

By the end, it begins to take its toll on your mental faculties. But you must do it. Even on set, as in Made in Heaven, they had a very elaborate process, which is a good thing. It’s for everyone’s safety.”

By Piya

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