The former Miss India, who makes her Bollywood debut with Luv U Turn [2019), reckons that the cinema is no longer the sole platform for former beauty queens to express their talent
By Mayur Lookhar
Chasing the stars can sometimes lead to monotonous conversations. it’s the young turks with their innocence, unfiltered attitude that provide for an intriguing talk.
Independent filmmaker Harish Raut’s Luv U Turn  introduces us to the talent of Himachali girl Purva Rana. Blessed with great looks, Rana was perhaps was the only one who caught our imagination in the trailer. Luv U Turn follows the events in Ishika’s [Rana] life after a one-night stand comes back to haunt her.
A debut in cinema, but Rana had earlier made a career for herself in the fashion industry. She had participated in Femina Miss India 2012 and later a few other beauty pageants.
BeyondBollywood caught up with the actress on Friday. Not a glam doll, but the gorgeous Rana came across as a girl with a matured head on her shoulders. Much of this down due to her straight-forward attitude. Perhaps, that’s seen her wait for six years to get her maiden film, but Rana is unapologetic over her choices.
Rana admits that beauty pageants should no longer be treated as any gateway to Bollywood, she urges young models to explore other mediums too. While’s she’s never been in a Luv U Turn scenario, but Rana has had to turn town proposals from two friends.
Himachal Pradesh has given us Preity Zinta, Kangana Ranaut. Two fine actresses known for their fearless attitude. Do you also carry this attitude?
I think you can say that. There’s also Yami Gautam who hails from Himachal Pradesh. It has nothing to do with the state, but it is just down every individual and how they perceive things. We are fearless in a way yet sensitive at times.
Both Zinta and Ranaut were launched by big banners. That would be a dream for any actor. But can a young talent afford to wait for that dream debut that perhaps may never come?
It doesn’t matter. Times have changed. In the end, the fate of the movie is decided by the box office. Of course, you should have faith in the script or the character that you are playing. It is a cherry on the top if it is big banner because you get that kind of publicity or marketing. So, you become instantly known to the masses, but at the same time, if the movie or script is really fine then the same impact will be thereafter [the release]
I can only talk about myself. With this movie, I didn’t think of waiting for a big banner. I think I took a wise decision of getting into it. A lot of other actors have started their careers from TV or from nothing.
In the past, winning beauty pageants was considered to be the gateway to film industry. Does that no longer hold true?
I would definitely say that if you win a pageant it is like a gateway to Bollywood. But it is no longer true. That’s because there is so much of talent and so you don’t need to be Miss India or other beauty queen to get into Bollywood. A Miss India shouldn’t necessarily become a Bollywood star. She can be anything.
I don’t think I was carved for modelling or acting. I am a good student. I did my electronics engineering, worked for a while for a 500-fortune company. I didn’t design this for myself. It just happened by fluke. Pageantry did that for me.
You participated in quite a few beauty pageants. Is it easier to get to get a break in Bollywood had you won the crown in a few pagents?
No, this is not what happened to me. Being a Miss Indian hasn’t really helped me in my acting. Neither has it helped me get a straight break in [films] without auditioning. People won’t pick you just because you are a Miss India.
From what I read, you competed at different pageants till 2013. Six years is a long time to get your first break into Bollywood. Back then though did you harbour any celluloid dreams?
I never thought of becoming a model or Miss India. This [acting] is just the extension of my career. I thought let me just try. I am fascinated by both Bollywood and Hollywood.
But prior to taking this film, what were you doing creatively in these six years?
2013, I was busy with my reigning [Miss India] year commitments. There was lot of travelling, other commitments. In 2014, it was just an extension of the same. You do lot of NGO work for a year or so. Apart from that, I had been active in fashion weeks – in Paris, Asia. I did lot of print shoots down south. I think I’ve must have done done print shoots for every saree brand down south. So, I was always busy.
What was the trigger point for you to get into films, and more importantly pick this film?
I felt stagnated in what I was already doing. I wanted to try out something new. I did try out music videos. My training or knowledge about cinema is different from what we get here [in Indian acting schools] in India. I was trained by Dalip Sondhi, an Australian actor of Indian origin. He also thought cinema in London school of drama.
Is there a fascinating story to share about how you got this first break?
This film was a very quick affair for me. I had auditioned for it but later on, I was told by my manager that they have finalised another girl. So, you forget about it. Then after a month or so, actually, I don’t even remember how long it was. They suddenly called me up asking for a meet. I was told I’m on board and we are leaving [for Thailand] in 10 days. This film just happened.
How tough has it been in terms of getting other offers?
It’s very tough to crack a role in a big banner, with a big artiste. Usually, people don’t have faith in you. You are sent by your talent agency to every audition where you would fit into a role. [Pauses] I don’t know what to say but it is very difficult. People don’t have faith in you. Why would someone want to put their money on me and not on an established actress, who is likely to fetch some amount of [returns]. In the end, it is business.
I will admit, if Kangana is so rebellious, and whatever she says [hints to exploitation], this is a result of her experiences. I will second that. It is a brutal world. Yet at the same time, it gives you a lot.
Were you able to make peace that you tried hard initially but things didn’t go your way.
I wouldn’t say that things didn’t go my way. May be, I just didn’t fit into those roles. Or the other person thought I am just a model.
So that kind of thinking still exists.
Yes, sadly it does. But now with the boom in digital space. We [models] don’t really need cinema to showcase our talent. We can take up a short film, put it up on You Tube. You never know what people may like. You do have to put yourself out there. Don’t worry too much about the result.
Any interesting tale to share from Luv U Turn sets?
On the first day, we had to shoot a song. It involved shooting in 48 frames. So, I was required to speak really fast to match up to the pace of the song. I had never done that. I did learn acting but nobody thought how to do that [lip syncing]. That was funny at the same time very irritating because I wasn’t getting it. My director [Harish Raut] remained calm. You are shooting in over 40 degrees, and people would get irritated that this new girl doesn’t know how to do it. At that moment you ask yourself, “Am I in the right field? You do question yourself each time you fail. Thankfully, it turned out well. My co-actors and everyone were really supportive.
The film has quite an intriguing title. I wonder whether did you ever find yourself in such [Love U turn] situation?
[giggles]. Not really. I am a very straight forward person. I don’t have [encountered] and I don’t think there ever will be.
We live in a society where if you look good, you are likely to get many proposals. Is a good-looking person more likely to encounter this U turn situation?
Strangely, it is not. You go into a village and you would find people, who may not be so good looking, but they, too, may have encountered such situation. This [love U turn] is not generic. It is not related to beauty. Attraction happens to each human body on earth.
But if you look at social media, a good looking person gets more ‘likes’ than a layman.
That is human tendency. I don’t get many likes because I am not very active. [laughs]. If you think I have lot of likes, then I am sorry I don’t. Do I look that bad?
No, you are very pretty.
No, these are things that have nothing to do with beauty. These are just generic situation that comes into one’s life.
As new comer, it’s not easy to have choice, so do you tend to go with whatever comes your way?
I have another movie lined up. It is with Neil Nitin Mukesh, Jackie Shroff. The film is called Firkee. It’s a thriller. I wouldn’t I had it easy. But I wouldn’t say I just chose whatever I got. If I had picked whatever I was offered, then I would have been in the film industry in 2013. If not Bollywood, then south for sure. I still haven’t done any south movie. It is my choice. I have always lived up to my choices. If l like or dislike something, I say it. That may be one of the reasons why I am usually in a lot of [pauses].
I would consider you as youth. Forget that you are part of this film, but as a viewer, when you look at the trailer of Luv U Turn. Do you keep the expectation more realistic?
I think this film is a very realistic. I won’t be surprised if people don’t understand what is happening in the movie. The film is a very free flowing movie about four characters who are living their lives, how they end up in relationships. This happens to most people. I won’t say it has happened to me. But I have faced issues where two boys liked me. But I didn’t like either of them. They are both friends and so it is probably hard to tell them ‘let’s continue our friendship, and not have any relationship’.
Is that the same text in which you politely turned them down?
No, there were different ways [laughs]. It’s personal though. I’ll just say I find this movie as very free flowing.
Luv U Turn, that was earlier was slated to release on 22 November, will now be releasing on 29 November.