She began her career with a big movie ‘Veer’ opposite Salman Khan and was vehemently criticized in the media for various reasons- for her expressions, mediocrity and her weight etc. Defying all odds, Zareen Khan, the charming actor, has lately been in news for advocating the use of Indian products. With some interesting Punjabi movies in her kitty and awaiting the release of her Hindi movie opposite Ayushman Jha ‘Hum Bhi Akele Tum Bhi Akele’ on LGBTQ theme, she is set to go one notch higher. Here is a candid conversation with the beautiful lady.
How would you describe yourself (as a person) ?
Well, I would say that I am a happy hippie. I have always been using that tag for myself as I truly believe that I am a hippie! I am a very happy person, also very spontaneous and adventurous.
How do you view yourself 10 years from now, what all is on your achieve-list?
Well, one thing that that I learned very early in my life is to stop making plans. I had made too many plans for my life and somehow my life is nothing like what I had planned, it’s completely different. It is infact a lot better than what I had planned. But yes I do have a few things that I want to achieve, I want to start my own business, and I am a travel addict, so I want to see each and every corner of this big beautiful world!
How has success changed the way people look at you?
I really wouldn’t know that because I don’t pay heed to that. For me, I am the same person that I was before and people who know me closely will agree with this. So I really can’t answer about how people look at me because I wouldn’t know that.
What was the experience of your debut in ‘Veer’ opposite Salman Khan?
It’s been a surreal experience as I have mentioned in my previous interviews. Veer was shot over almost one and a half years, on and off, and throughout the film; I couldn’t really believe that this was happening to me. There I was sitting in front of one of the biggest superstars of the country, and working with him and interacting with him, it was all amazing. He infact was so normal and never showed off that he is a superstar. He is such a genuine person, such a humble person. Me, being someone who doesn’t even come from a film background, he made me feel so comfortable and secure.
Are you content with the way things have unfolded in your life? One thing that you wished wasn’t the way it is.
Yes, I am pretty much content with the way my life has unfolded but I think a question like this can only be answered when you have already lived your life and I believe that I still have a long way to go. I think the person that I am today is because of all the things that have happened in my life and I am very proud of who I am today, so no regrets!
Any secret you never revealed to anyone and would not wish to share?
My Life has been like an open book, so no real secrets as such.
What’s the latest rumour you’ve heard about yourself? How do you react to rumours and gossips about you (being a popular name in the industry)
I don’t think I remember any and the fact that I don’t really remember any itself shows that I don’t really take them seriously. I think years ago there was a rumour about me being linked to a cricketer whom I don’t even know! I don’t really ‘remember’ rumours about me. I don’t take them seriously either.
How do you keep yourself informed about world affairs? Print, digital news or broadcast (TV)?
Honestly, I really don’t like reading or watching the news regularly as the way it is brought to us is completely overhyped. That does not mean that I am completely unaware of the ongoing issues. I keep myself well updated about ongoing issues. But I don’t really go by everything that is shown to us. I always keep my mind open and I always have my perspective about things. I think everyone has a right to have an opinion. I don’t really go by everything that I read or watch.
Have you ever felt insecurity when other actors do well?
I don’t feel any insecurity and I think that is one of the reasons why I have survived for so long. I don’t really have any backing or godfather in this industry. This is my journey, and I have tried to live it with whatever knowledge I have of this industry over the years. No insecurities because the film industry is a big place and I feel everybody can have their opportunities here, big or small.
Would you like to be part of a remake? If yes, which one?
Well yes why not, there are so many being remade right now, and I would love to be a part of them. There was one film that I really liked watching as a kid ‘Andaz Apna Apna,’ if that is ever remade, I would love to be a part of that. Another one, Chalbaz, Sridevi ji’s Chalbaz. I would love to be a part of these if they are ever remade.
What helps you say Yes’ to a film? What do you look for in a script or team?
Of course, the script, the script is of utmost importance. You can get the biggest actor or the biggest director, but if the story itself doesn’t hold any substance, it is not going to work. The script has to be really gripping. When I read a script I read it from the audience’s point of view, and if I enjoy it then I take it up.
Have you ever feared failure? How did you handle it in the early phase of your career?
Feared failure- not really! Rejections, failures, they are all a part of life, ups and downs are a part of life. It can’t be all good all the time right. Because then you are not going to be learning the lessons of life. I think failure is an important aspect of life and it teaches you a lot of things. So no I have never feared failure. I have always been a very strong-willed person. I have been raised by a very strong-willed person who is my mother and who taught me to never give up no matter what life throws at you.
As an actor what are the areas you wish to improve upon, professionally.
Well, as an actor, I think learning and improving never stops. You have to keep learning and brushing up on all skills that you feel you have and you think you need to acquire. It’s a never-ending process and I think it is a good thing because learning makes you a better person and better at whatever you are doing. Why just actors? Everyone should have the hunger to learn things because knowledge is infinite and it never ends.
What would you count as your biggest achievement so far?
Being able to stick in this industry for a decade without having a godfather. It is a difficult industry to survive in and the fact that I am still here, I consider that an achievement.
On the lighter note, what are the perks of being in the film industry?
For me I consider travelling being the biggest perk. It is the part of my profession and I love it as I am a travel addict. I got to see a lot of places due to travelling for my work. Places that I am not sure I would have been able to see if I would have been in any other industry.
Who are the other directors you’d like to work with (haven’t worked with yet)?
There are so many directors that I would like to work with, Imtiaz Ali sir, I would work with him. He just makes the most soulful love stories. Sanjay Leela Bhansali, his canvas is larger than life. Rohit Shetty- nobody makes masala films better than him. So I think it’s a long list.
What has been the role of your family in your career?
I don’t come from a filmy background. I come from a very simple family so they don’t really interfere much in my work life, because they don’t have much knowledge about it, but they are always there as emotional and mental support.
Can you recall an instance where you felt the vacuum the most being in this industry?
After Veer had released, I was getting a lot of criticism about my looks to my weight to everything. Somehow, the media made me feel that my existence is an issue because there was nothing good written about me and I couldn’t understand the reason why but as I said I am a very strong-willed person and I didn’t give up even in those circumstances.
Do you see yourself acting forever or do you have other dreams and retirement plans?
I do not see myself acting forever. Not that I have anything against it but I would definitely want to have my own business someday.
What is your most special memory as a child?
Well, Childhood, itself is a special time and all of it is so special. It makes me appreciate that all the more in today’s time because I see children nowadays. They don’t really have the kind of childhood we had, being outdoors, playing outdoors and just enjoying the world. Right now all I see, these children being confined to their laptops, Ipads or Mobile phones. They think that is childhood, which is really sad. I think the whole of my childhood is a special memory for me.
What do you love most about yourself?
Everything! Exactly like Kareena Kapoor’s dialogue in ‘Jab We Met’ – Main Apni Favourite Hoon. So, yes I love everything about myself.
Any actor you cannot wait to work with?
I would love to work with Saif Ali Khan, that’s a dream for years. I am a huge fan of his and also Aamir Khan sir, just being in one frame with him it would be a dream come true.
Your makeup routine?
I don’t really have a makeup routine, I do not use makeup regularly. I only put on a little bit, when I will have to face the camera professionally and also I don’t know how to put on makeup properly.
I love perfumes, so there is a long list of my favourite scents. It has to be Chance by Chanel, Blush by Burberry, Omnia by Bvlgari, Bomshell By Victoria’s Secret, I can go on and on; I love perfumes.
Who is on your speed dial?
My mom, my sister is on my speed dial
My favourite food would be my mom’s food, Maa Ke Hath Ka Khanna and trust me when I say this. She just cooks such amazing food that most of the times I don’t even like food in the most expensive restaurants.
Who is your spirit animal?
Which book character would you like to play if it was turned into a movie?
I would love to play ‘Amy from Gone Girl’. It’s already made into a film but if it was ever made in Hindi I would love to play the role of Amy. Also, if Willy Wonka was a woman from Charlie And The Chocolate Factory.
Favourite place in the world?
I can’t pick one. I have a travel addiction. I want to see each and every part of this big beautiful world. As I mentioned earlier too. So from the places that I have already seen, I liked London a lot, loved LA and Dubai
The first thing you bought with your own paycheck?
I handed over my first paycheck to my mother and that gave me an immense amount of joy that nothing bought from it could have got
Favourite Disney princess?
What TV shows do you binge-watch?
Well, I like watching re-runs of my favourite shows like Friends, How I Met Your Mother, The Big Bang Theory. I keep waiting for the episodes of Black Mirror that is one show that I love watching but yes they have limited episodes and you really have to wait for the next season to come once you finish watching all at once. I love watching the re-runs.
Please tell us about your future projects.
There were quite a few lined up this year. Due to COVID-19, now it’s all on halt and I have no idea when they are going to start. I have one Punjabi film under Gippy Grewal’s production house starring Binnu Dhillon called ‘Phatte Dinde Chakk Punjabi’. I had two music videos, my film ‘Hum Bhi Akele Tum Bhi Akele’ awaiting release. I am in talks with a few interesting short films.
Your social call or some plan to contribute to society in some way.
Well definitely, at some point later in my life I would want to have my own NGO, but till that does not happen; I am already very actively involved in a lot of social causes. Whether it be spreading awareness about saving the girl child to teaching children about the good and bad touch, rescuing animals. So I keep doing my bit and I always like being a part of social causes.
Sushant’s death has shaken up everybody. Not just the nation but the whole world. He had fans all over the world and he had people who loved him. I am one of them, he was a great guy though I met him just twice or thrice in my life. He was such a happy person with child-like energy and enthusiasm. It’s just difficult to believe what has happened my heart does not agree to any of it. My heart and mind still feels that all this is a dream and it’s just going to end one day. He is just going to come back. My heart and mind are just not ready to believe that he is no more a part of us.