Preeti Jhangiani on 20 years of ‘Mohabbatein’, “I would have done Shamita’s kiss and worn Kim’s glamorous outfits if I had been offered those roles”


Preeti Jhangiani sneaked into people's hearts with her innocent portrayal in 'Mohabbatein', where she played the coy girl opposite Jimmy Shergill. Today, 'Mohabbatein' is 20-years-old and the time was right to interview Preeti, who is now married to Parvin Dabas and is a mother to two kids, Jaiveer and Dev. Excerpts:
Tell us how you landed up with a role in Aditya Chopra's 'Mohabbatein'?
I went with my father and we met Adi directly. We were so happy meeting him; he was very polite and explained everything very calmly. We were not even aware how big Yash Raj is. I had a lot of offers before 'Mohabbatein' but was busy doing modelling and music videos. The meeting with Adi was so lovely that I said 'yes' to the film almost immediately.
Did you undergo any training for the role?
It was the role of a classical dancer and I am a typical Mumbai girl who hasn't undergone a single day of training in dance. But Adi was clear that I couldn't get into the role without undergoing formal training in dancing. For 8 months, a professional dance teacher came to my house from 6 am to 8 am every day. He taught me Kathak, Bharatanatyam and folk dance. Tarun Mansukhani, who was assisting on the film, would also come over every day to see how I was progressing. So, there was no day I could slack off. And then in the evening, Farah Khan used to teach us. Adi was so particular that the line of the stomach of a dancer should be seen, I had to attain that kind of fitness to get the perfect grace in my dance.
And then, we underwent classes in Hindi diction and voice-throwing lessons. Barry John came in for a 15-day workshop. Adi wanted us to enact scenes from other films and trained us accordingly. Karan Johar came in to tell us what should be the 'ada' of a film heroine. Jimmy Shergill came in later and Karan used to fill in for him. I couldn't have got a better training ground. People still call me the 'Mohabbatein' girl. People still see the film and it's still fresh in their minds, even those who are abroad.
You think it would've been better if you had Shamita Shetty or Kim Sharma's role?
No, I was very happy with my role. It touched a lot of hearts. I was in love with my role right from the time Adi had narrated it.
Assume you had been offered Shamita or Kim's role. Kim wore glamorous outfits and Shamita had a bold kiss with Uday. Would you have accepted their parts?
Why not? I was the same as them. I was born and brought up in Mumbai, I just got slotted in my gharelu look. I would have done Shamita's kiss and worn Kim's glamorous outfits if I had been offered those roles. I had kissed in my music video earlier and I used to wear those glamorous outfits in real life. I wouldn't have had any issues playing Kim or Shamita.
You did a lot of films after 'Mohabbatein'. But, many of them didn't do well? Would you say you made the wrong choices?
After 'Mohabbatein', I signed about 15-20 films. All of them didn't take off. I really don't know why. The system wasn't as professional as it is today. There were no managers, no agencies. Plus it was coming to us a bit easy and perhaps we didn't take it as seriously as today's young crop does. I think we should have taken more advice from experienced people in the industry. I should have filtered a little more. But I must say I am fortunate to have worked with good directors- Madhur Bhandarkar, JP Dutta, Manoj Agarwal, Anant Mahadevan and others.
But you had worked with Karan Johar and Aditya Chopra in 'Mohabbatein'. You could have consulted them...
They were very accessible, just a phone call away. I think I was very hesitant and shy to pick up the phone and call them. I didn't know that was something that should have been done.
After 2011 or thereabouts, we almost stopped seeing you on the big screen. Why?
I was not happy with the kind of roles I was getting.
What kind of roles were you getting?
Nothing great, either sister roles or something very raunchy.
Looking for any particular type of role that heralds your comeback?
I have been looking forward to OTT. I have steered away from saas-bahu shows on TV. I have an OTT show coming up with my husband Parvin. Then, I am going to produce a film with a very big studio. And of course, we have our wrestling league. Above all, I have two more projects- my two sons, Jaiveer and Dev.
Who is naughtier?
They are boys, so one day Jaiveer is naughtier and the next day it's Dev (laughs).
And whom do they resemble?
Jaiveer looks like me and Dev looks like Parvin.
Are you ready to play mother to a 20-year-old in a Bollywood film?
I have no issues, even though I don't look like a mother of a 20-year-old. There are no barriers, nowadays. You never know when a great, exciting role might come along that gets you totally recognised as an actress.
Are you in touch with the cast of 'Mohabbatein'?
Not really. With Kim and Jimmy, yes. I have had a few chats with Jugal Hansraj though, he's in the US now. Kim is a friend and Jimmy and Jugal are very sweet whenever we have met.

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