‘I’m a Director’s Actor:’ - Mannara Chopra

Mannara Chopra is all set in renowned Telugu director Teja’s film, Sita. The golden opportunity has come after a sabbatical of nearly two years. The model-turned-actor credits none but herself for the lessons and the journey that came her way. No producers queued up to sign her. Rather, this cousin of global icon Priyanka Chopra carved her own path by virtue of talent alone. Here, our cover girl talks about her latest project, acting, fitness, and more.

What made you choose a film like Sita?
It has to be because of the director of the movie, Teja sir. Fans know him for hits like Nuvvu Nenu, Chitram, and Nijam, and I am lucky to be part of his creation. Over the years I’ve realised the importance of a good director. He/she is the one who’s responsible for designing the experience of a movie. In the same way an architect designs a house, the director designs and determines the fate of the film. This apart, the story genuinely excited me. And it has this amazing star cast of Kajal Aggarwal and Sai Srinivas. Although I’d worked in a lot of Telugu films, it’s a great platform for me, too.

What have you been up to following Rogue in 2017?
I went back to Delhi to study. I’m a firm believer in doing cinema which connects with audiences or which makes sense. I think until Rogue, I never took myself or this profession as seriously as one should. So I was grooming myself and completed my studies until I got the offer to be part of Sita.

What do you rely on most while acting?
I prefer to get done with my scene before we begin with our shoot. If I’m shooting a scene tomorrow, I will rehearse in the evening. I like to sit alone and understand the character’s psyche. It also depends on my co-actors. However, I am a director’s actor so I rely mostly on my director and his vision.

Which have been your least exciting roles so far?
I don’t pick up roles which don’t excite me. I have always looked for the quality of a project and not for the quantity. So even in my long run, you will remember me for the characters I’ve portrayed and not for the number of movies I’ve done.

Have you ever felt like an outsider here?
All the time. Believe it or not, I am good with my work, but then I always felt that way because I’m a workaholic. I don’t feel like I fit in since I’m shy and my interactions with people are limited to the people I know. There have been instances when I’ve introduced myself to people at a filmi party, but they already know me. I’m fine with that because I’m well aware that it takes time to break through that barrier.

Skinny bodies and heavily photoshopped faces… do you feel that in being an actor, there’s a constant pressure to be fit all the time?
Not skinny, but I guess it’s extremely important to be fit or maintain a healthy lifestyle. It will keep you going, too. Otherwise, if you are not active or strong, you can break down at any point.

What’s your inspiration for fitness?
Instagram inspires me (laughs). You’ll see dozens of posts every day, where people flaunt their toned bodies, their fitness regime, and the food they eat. I think social media sort of revolutionised fitness for me, and I guess for many others.

Have you tried any fad diets?
Oh yes, a lot. I remember when I shifted to Mumbai; I was not much into fitness, but then when I went to the gym I simultaneously tried fad diets. I can say that they don’t work! Just workout and eat home cooked and organic food in moderation.

Quick Takes:
If you woke up as Priyanka Chopra one morning…
Oh, my God! I think I would go back to sleep because I don’t want to take her place. She is my sister, she is the dearest, the closest, and I look up to her.

The most treasured item in your closet...
It has to be the saree my late grandmother gifted me.

What’s your favourite summer activity?
Swimming in the summertime is fun!       – as told to Anisha and Photographer - Krishna Chaitanya; Makeup Artist - Sara Khan; Styled by - Mitali Handa; Location - Mumbai