Preity Zinta’s impish looks in the Cadbury’s Perk commercial and her forthright character in her debut Dil Se, which is on par with her off screen persona, stole the show and had her fans begging for more.
Preity Zinta, born on 31 January 1975 in Shimla comes from a non-filmi family. Her father Durganand Zinta was in the Indian Army and her mother is Nilprabha. Her older brother Deepankar is with the Indian Army and a younger brother Manish lives in California. Zinta’s parents were in a car accident that killed her father while her mother made it with severe injuries.
Zinta spent her early years at the Jesus and Mary boarding school in Shimla. She is a graduate in English from St.Bede’s College in Shimla after which she did a degree in Criminal Psychology.
Her break into show business was a matter of chance, when she was featured in the Cadbury Perk’s commercial. She went on to be the Liril girl and part of other ads. She made a move into movies in 1997. Her debut Shekhar Kapoor’s Tara Rum Pum Pum with Hrithik Roshan was cancelled after which she landed a role in Mani Rathnam’s Dil Se.
Zinta was dating Marc Robinson. In 2009, Zinta broke up with her long-term boyfriend Ness Wadia, a businessman who comes from the family that runs Bombay Dyeing.
Zinta was awarded the Godfrey’s Mind of Steel Award and the Red and White Bravery Award for testifying against the underworld who had threatened her during the Bharat Shah case. She was one of the few witnesses who stood her ground.
More recently, Zinta was accused by singer Suchitra Krishnamurthy for being the reason behind her divorce from director Shekhar Kapoor, which Zinta denied.
Zinta’s life has been more than just show business. She wrote for the BBC News Online about women’s issues. She is actively involved in various social causes like AIDS awareness, clean up drives in Mumbai, and human trafficking. Her prize money from Kaun Banega Crorepathi was donated to the Red Cross Society in Shimla. She was one of the celebrities, who as part of NDTV’s Jai Jawan, visited the army men based in Hisar, Haryana.
In 2008, she became the youngest and only woman to own a franchise of the Mohali based Twenty20 cricket team of the Indian Premier League. She was in the news for her rapport with the team’s players and support that she extended towards them during the matches.
Shaadi ke pehle, you know, honkabonkabonk???
1998 to 2000
Preity Zinta’s first release was Mani Rathnam’s Dil Se (1998) with Shah Rukh Khan and Manisha Koirala. Her role as the outspoken Preeti Nair and her song sequence ‘Jiya Jale’ was enough to seal the deal. Her second movie the same year was as the lead in Soldier with Bobby Deol. She won the Filmfare Best Debut Award. She also acted in a Telugu movie, Premante Idera.
In 1999, she appeared in another Telugu movie Raja Kumarudu and as a CBI officer in Tanuja Chandra’s Sangharsh, which was inspired by Silence of the Lambs. In 2000, she played Priya Bakshi in Kya Kehna, which dealt with pre-marital sex and the ostracization of a single, pregnant woman. This was followed by Har Dil Jo Pyaar Karega with Rani Mukherji and Salman Khan and Mission Kashmir in which she played a journalist opposite Hrithik Roshan.
2001 to 2004
She starred once again with Rani Mukherji and Salman Khan in Chori Chori Chupke Chupke (2001), which was mired in controversy as it was supposed to have been financed by the underworld. Then there was the groundbreaking Dil Chahta Hai which cast her as Aamir Khan’s love interest. Dil Hai Tumhaara, her only release in 2002, did not do well at the box office. Armaan, in 2003, saw her in a negative role and she was part of Bollywood’s sci-fi movie, Koi Mil Gaya, with Hrithik Roshan. It was Naina Catherine Kapoor’s role in Karan Johar’s Kal Ho Na Ho that cinched the Filmfare Best Film Actress Award.
In Lakshya, she famously played the role of journalist Barkha Dutt. Veer–Zaara was a love story between a Pakistani woman and an Indian man and won her praise.
2005 to 2010
Salaam Namaste, set in Australia and starring Saif Ali Khan, had her in the role of Amber a radio jockey in a live-in relationship and for the third time onscreen she was pregnant out of wedlock.
Kabhie Alvida Naa Kehna, another multi starrer by Karan Johar, did well in 2006. Jhoom Barabar Jhoom in 2007 didn’t do well in India but did better business overseas.
Rituparno Ghosh’s The Last Lear got mixed reviews. In 2008, she played Kuljeet Kaur, a war-widow in Heroes and Chand in Deepa Mehta’s Heaven on Earth that was about domestic violence.
In 2009, she was seen in a cameo role in Main Aur Mrs Khanna. Her next release is Jahnu Barua’s Har Pall (2010) with Shiney Ahuja.