Diana Penty on starring in Parmanu: The Story of Pokhran, doing few films after Cocktail and rejecting Rockstar

Abhishek Srivastava

May,24 2018 09:28:03 IST

Diana Penty could be considered an exception in the film industry. In an era when the constant fear of not being in the limelight surrounds most of the newcomers, Diana is bit relaxed in her approach. She began her acting career in 2012 and six years later, has only five films to boast of in her resume.

Diana Penty in a still from Parmanu: The Story of Pokhran. YouTube

Diana Penty in a still from Parmanu: The Story of Pokhran. YouTube

So was it all by design or by default? “It was by design I guess. I think after Cocktail released, the film industry was a completely new world for me and was not sure what I wanted to do next. I am not someone from the film world and thus, had no one who could mentor me. I took my time to decide what direction I wanted to take for myself,” reveals Diana.

The gap between her debut film and her second film was also the longest, so what did she do actually in that intermittent phase? “Well, I read a bunch of scripts at that time and the process took a while. Also, I did not know how to handle myself suddenly being in the limelight. I think a model can go about doing her everyday chores but after Cocktail, I felt that people’s eyes are on me and thus the phase of doing things anonymously was gone. That took me a while to get adjusted to and thus two years went there.”

Diana, right after Cocktail, went from nobody to the 'Tumhi Ho Bandhu' girl. Even when Happy Bhag Jayegi was offered to her, she was least confident of pulling off the character but the very thought that she could prove to people that she could do things than just play Meera boosted her confidence.

Not many know that even before Cocktail, she was offered the lead role in Rockstar. Does she regret the decision of saying no to the Ranbir Kapoor-starrer?  “The one thing I can say looking back is that I have no regrets. I have definitely chosen to do things in my career slightly more difficult and risky way. To be honest, at that point of time, I would not have been able to pull of that character which was bit bubbly and vivacious, completely the opposite of what I was back then. But Imtiaz thankfully remembered me and thought of me while writing Cocktail.”

Diana’s upcoming film, Parmanu: The Story of Pokhran, is touted as an edge-of-the-seat thriller and she plays one among the group who successfully conducted the nuclear test at Pokhran in 1998. Does she have any memories of the incident? “I was in middle school at that time and I remember all the sanctions that were imposed on India after the test. Now when I look back, I realise that most people do not know how we went about becoming a nuclear superpower which included the entire process and the obstacles the country had to face. The fact that CIA was watching us and we had to do it when they were not watching us was a task in itself. I had no idea about these things but I learnt everything when I started shooting for Parmanu.”

Diana has only praise for his director Abhishek Sharma and reveals that her research for the film was actually the information that he shared with her. According to the actress, the director is a walking talking encyclopedia on India’s nuclear tests. “His research on the subject is highly commendable. Ask him anything from '74 and '98 and he has all the answers. He has taken great pains to stick to the facts and that’s another reason why I wanted to be a part of this project.” Diana also divulges that she was born and brought up in an army environment courtesy his grandfather who was part of the Indian Army and has fond memories of the time she spent her summer vacation in the cantonment area of Deolali.

About her role in the film, she discloses that she was in a dilemma as to what course was required for her character. Diana wanted a reference point as she was the only female character in the film. “I asked Abhishek if he required some kind of gentleness to the character or if he wanted someone really strong. I was not sure what direction was to to be given to this character. When I asked him he only said to watch Zero Dark Thirty. I had seen the film many times before but not from that perspective. There is nothing macho about Jessica Chastain’s character but again there is nothing feminine too.”

Diana holds a degree in media studies. When asked if she can judge journos better, the next thing she does is that she goes on a rant. “I had one full subject on ethics of journalism and then came across some people and then I wondered, 'Did they not study that subject?'. I studied not to do this. I guess now I am overtly cautious of what I say but then I realise that it really becomes very boring."

There have been instances when the actress has been misquoted. So what is her reaction during such instances? “I just get so irritated and it bothers me. It’s not fair that I have given you a 45-minute interview with matter and content with which you could have written a novel but in the end, you pick that one line which will make it a little bolder and then use it as headline,” quips Diana before signing off.

(Also read — John Abraham on releasing Parmanu: The Story of Pokhran — I had the guts to fight the court battle alone)

Updated Date: May 24, 2018 09:35 AM