Parineeti Chopra is looking at a double bill after months of waiting for her films to be released. The Girl on the Train, previously slated for May 2020, is being streamed on Netflix on February 26. Sandeep Aur Pinky Faraar, whose release in 2020 was stalled by the coronavirus pandemic, is aiming to be in cinemas on March 19.
The 32-year-old actor is aiming to bring back on track a career that began with Ladies vs Ricky Bahl in 2011 and includes Ishaqzaade and Shuddh Desi Romance. Chopra tasted blockbuster success with Golmaal Again in 2017 and Kesari in 2019, but there were misses too, including Meri Pyaari Bindu and Jabariya Jodi.
Which is why Chopra is anxiously awaiting the response to the Hindi adaptation of Paula Hawkins’s bestseller The Girl on the Train. Hawkins’s novel inspired a Hollywood production of the same name in 2016, starring Emily Blunt, Rebecca Ferguson and Justin Theroux.
In the Hindi version, Chopra plays Mira, a troubled alcoholic who gets embroiled in the disappearance of a woman whom she has been seeing every day on her train route. Directed by Ribhu Dasgupta, the film also stars Aditi Rao Hydari, Avinash Tiwary and Kirti Kulhari.
“I feel like this was everything for me and I am so protective of it,” Chopra said about The Girl on the Train. “Right now I am restless for it to come out. I am excited for the audience reaction, but also scared. I am a mixed bag of emotions.”
While the novel has three perspectives, the Hindi film is told primarily from Mira’s point of view. “There are differences from the original – it’s Mira’s viewpoint and how she gets obsessed with a girl played by Aditi,” Chopra said. “When Aditi’s character dies, Kirti’s character comes to investigate the whole thing. All three girls are very important and Ribhu’s screenplay explores how their lives collide and what happens.”
The Hindi movie is neither entirely loyal to Hawkins’s novel nor the Hollywood production, Chopra clarified. “I am answering on behalf of the director, who is also the writer of the film – Ribhu says it is a bit of both and a bit of neither,” she said. “Some of the book, some of the film and then its own twist. It is an adaptation better suited to an Indian audience.”
Mira lives largely in her head and in her isolation. It’s a quieter, more intense and mysterious role than Chopra has played before. Finding Mira didn’t come easy for Chopra, but being told to shoot the most difficult scene on the very first day accelerated the process.
“I asked why we were starting with such a difficult scene,” she recalled. “I thought we should get into the rhythm slowly. It was anyway such a difficult film for me. But Ribhu insisted. He said he wanted me to taste what this experience was going to be like for the next two months and he was bang on, because from scene one I understood what was going to expected out of me, and what I had to give.”
Despite the challenge of stepping out of her comfort zone of romcoms and light-hearted films, Chopra says she missed Mira when the shoot was complete. “I have never been this invested or involved in anything,” she said.
Has she been too choosy with her roles? “The opposite, actually,” Chopra said. “I did a lot of films that I didn’t really want to do. I did them for different reasons, so now I only want to do roles and films that really excite me.”
Her upcoming projects include Saina, a biopic of badminton champion Saina Nehwal, and Animal with Ranbir Kapoor. Chopra hopes that these roles will help her break away from the image built by her previous releases.
“Those films were fun to do, but I want to explore new worlds, new genres and new characters,” she said. “I wanted to be seen in a space I have not been seen in before. Mira is that part. I am happy that I got this opportunity because I was craving something different.”