By Subhash K Jha
After attending the Harvard business school Preity Zinta is all set to dabble in various aspects of the entertainment industry, including production.
Preity feels she is now equipped to handle her role as an entrepreneur far better.
Speaking at length on her experiences for the first time Preity says, “I took the plunge in December and went back to school, to Harvard School. Believe me, it was the most enriching experience of my life. I didn’t do it because I wanted to go back to college. I wanted to learn about business management so I could be a better entrepreneur.”
Preity attended classes at Harvard for three weeks every day from 9 am to 11 pm. “When I joined films I never went to an acting school. Then last year I did a two-day workshop with Anupam Kher. It enriched me so much. I wondered why I never went to acting school. Now that I’m an entrepreneur I didn’t want to look back and ask the same question one day. I had to go to the best business school in the world. When I filled out the admission form for Harvard my hands were shaking. I had tried earlier and couldn’t get in.”
When Preity got selected for Harvard she was ecstatic. “I got in on sheer merit and not because I was a star in Bollywood. When I went there I was so nervous. I wasn’t even computer savvy. I was scared I wouldn’t understand a lot of what was said in the classes. And I didn’t. But I wasn’t scared to put up my hand in class and ask questions. No one knew me there.”
Soon of course word spread among the Asians in the campus that Preity Zinta was in their midst.
Laughs the hassle-free actress. “The Indians in the faculty did recognize me eventually. They were taken aback that I was coming to Harvard. But they were discreet. They’d come up and say. ‘Oh my God, what’re you doing here? Why aren’t you doing movies any more?’ At the gym on the campus I saw a work-out dance class for cardio exercises and when I went there they were dancing to Bollywood stuff including my ‘Where’s the party tonight’. When I joined them the dance instructor said, ‘You really move your hips well.’ I had the best time of my life. I felt so proud to see so many young Asian students in Harvard. That was the future. It was fantastic. I learnt negotiations and mergers acquisitions, etc. There were students from all over the world, including of course Asians. More than the just the course, the questions that the students asked were so pertinent.”
Preity is ready to apply her newly-found business acumen to various ventures. “But as far as my role in the IPL cricket team is concerned it’s all settled down now. I don’t need to give that much time to cricket. My focus is back to movies. I’m on the verge of signing new films.”
Speaking about her new equation with Ness Wadia as purely business partners Preity shakes her head, “The media has been trying to find awkwardness in our equation. Why should that be? We’re still good friends. We’re no longer seeing each other. We’re colleagues now. If ever I’m in a situation I’m sure he’d watch my back, as I’d watch his. But would people let go of this fascination with the equation between me and Ness? It’s been one year since we broke up.”
Preity feels her mode of discreet frankness in her public conduct is now getting outdated. “I’m surrounded by celebrities who are constantly discussing their personal lives. I’m the same Preity Zinta I used to be. You won’t find me discussing my private life in detail. I’m in a very good space right now. The only problem is, any man whom I’m seen with in public is automatically linked with me. I’ve come to a place where none of my male friends want to go out with my any more! I think I’ll just have to pick my date for the next public event through a contest.”
Preity has been spending a lot of time outside Mumbai. On Republic Day she was in Delhi hanging out with her closest school friend Shagun. “I watched the Republic Day parade on television. I love the parade. It’s a moment of great pride every year. There’s so much chaos all around us. That’s one day and one sphere of activity where we see a comforting discipline and elegance. It’s always been this way. Whenever I’m not shooting I’m out of the country. Don’t get me wrong. I love Mumbai to death. But tell me what can an actor do in the city if she isn’t working? I can’t go out partying. I can’t even take a jog. What do I do on a Sunday? I can’t even go out. Now (after the Ness episode) it’s become worse . I can’t go out with any guy. If I do I’ve to beg some women to come along, otherwise the guy and I get linked up. I can’t handle it anymore.”
To Preity’s horror she now has to cope with rumors of being linked not only with her co-stars but also with cricketers. “Can you imagine members of my own team! I’ve always maintained I’d never mix business and pleasure. Now that I’m getting fully into business I’m narrowing my chances of finding a man. I know I’d never get into criminal activities, so maybe…..”
And Preity bursts into long throaty laughter.
“Last year I was too busy experiencing life to talk about it. 2009 was a year of learning for me. Now I reap the dividends of what I learnt. I went back to college. I realized there’s so much to me that that I and forgotten. I wasn’t traveling and nursing a broken heart. Just because I wasn’t giving explanations! The worst you can do to someone who’s recovering from an emotional setback is to crowd them. I should’ve been left alone. It’s like a death in your family. Those condolence calls just set your teeth on edge. My way of dealing with my breakup was to move on. The Harvard experience really rejuvenated me. I’ve come back a different person. You watch 2010 is going to be the best year of my life. As Mr. Bachchan would say, it’s going to be mind-boggling.”