Bollywood A-listers Priyanka Chopra and Ranveer Singh, last seen together on the big screen in 2014 as a madly-in-love couple in Yash Raj Films' crime-thriller Gunday, have paired up again for Zoya Akhtar's new film Dil Dhadakne Do – this time as siblings.
Singh and Chopra portray brother and sister duo Kabir and Ayesha, members of a fractured family that is headed by patriarch Kamal Mehra (Anil Kapoor) and his wife Neelam (Shefali Shah). The Mehras embark on a European cruise, struggling to keep up appearances of normality while their fortunes are slowly sinking.
"This film is all about dysfunctional relationships," says Singh, 29. "You see how dysfunctional this actually is? She played my girlfriend first [in Gunday] now my sister [in Dil Dhadakne Do], and then my wife [Bajirao Mastani, scheduled to be released in December]. It throws you off. It's a little bit out of whack. I think this one will be the most convincing, because, as we always say …" and Chopra joins him as they say in unison: "Humari feelings aisi hi hain ek doosre ki taraf [this is what our feelings for each other are like]."
Chopra adds: “I think that we are extremely fortunate that we have had the opportunity – in three back-to-back films – where we have played boyfriend-girlfriend, brother-sister and an intense love story as husband and wife. “I think this is a testament to the filmmakers who worked with us, who have put their faith in us and trusted us to be able to pull off all the different characters. Only the audience will be able to tell if we have, really,” says the 32-year-old actress. “But if you ask me, honestly, I think Ranveer is really more like a brother to me. We even look alike … So we can very convincingly be brother and sister.”
There are many moments in the trailer that are easy to relate to. Were there any specific moments in the film that Chopra and Singh identified with?
“That one situation in the trailer, where Kabir is arguing with his mother and says that everyone in the family sticks to niceties and no one talks about the things that really matter – that is something I can really relate to,” says Singh. “Not just me, but everyone else, I bet. Often, families will talk about superficial things, but there is always an ugly underbelly, and it is the beauty of Zoya’s writing that she is able to tackle that kind of insight about families in an entertaining way.”
Chopra says: “My mother and brother have a bond that is exactly like the one between Shefali’s character and Ranveer’s character.
“Mummy’s son is always the apple of her eye and it annoys the daughter. That is something you will see in the film and I totally relate to that. Also, just like Ayesha, I am extremely close to my family – the entire family. I love them all.”
Chopra says the character she portrays is quite complicated.
“She is probably the biggest mess in this film,” she says. “She has no idea what she wants and she keeps changing her mind – probably like most women. We change our minds so often and that is exactly what Ayesha does. She doesn’t know which direction to go in. She actually has no opinion on love or marriage, but just wants to be able to feel that she can be loved. It’s after a very long time that I’ve played a very feminine character … one who is not beating up boys. So I am nervous.”
Chopra, who has been juggling multiple commitments, says she is happy to have a light role. “I have been shooting several projects simultaneously since I started my career, but I have been blessed to have not had the same character twice. I must say, I am so glad that after being so serious on screen all the time, I finally got the chance to do a funny film this time. It was an extremely memorable experience and one of the most fun projects of my career.”
Chopra, already a successful crossover artist, whose 2013 single Exotic featured the American rapper Pitbull, has also landed a lead role in Quantico, an ABC television drama series about a group of FBI recruits, that will be broadcast in the United States later this year. The actress says she is quite happy with a foot in Bollywood and Hollywood.
“It’s all about the balance,” says Chopra. “I can’t choose. For me, it will always be both Bollywood and Hollywood.”
• Dil Dhadakne Do is out in cinemas on Thursday, June 4