If you grew up watching 2000s Bollywood films, you’d probably agree that Preity Zinta, Rani Mukherji and Kareena Kapoor were the IT girls of the era. They’re still IT girls, of course, but the roles that Preity Zinta served us in the 2000s are, what I would caption as a ‘Chef’s kiss.’
Though, the truth is that Zinta had been giving us great characters even before the 2000s. Preity Zinta’s choices have been so versatile, unique, and strong that it’s impossible not to talk about. And even though a lot of her characters weren’t written as well as we wished they’d been, we’re still grateful to have experienced them.
The actor debuted as Preeti Nair in Dil Se in 1998 and was soon seen as the lead, Preeti Singh in Soldier, the same year.
But some of her most unforgettable roles have been as Reet Oberoi in Sangharsh, Priya Baxi in Kya Kehna, Madhubala in Chori Chori Chupke Chupke, Zaara in Veer-Zaara, Riya Saran in KANK, Naina in Kal Ho Naa Ho, Romila Dutta in Lakshya and Ambar in Salaam Namaste.
In Kya Kehna, Zinta portrayed strength and wisdom for a character who was so young and dealing with a huge taboo in our society. In Chori Chori Chupke Chupke, Madhu’s progress as a character was absolutely stunning to watch. How her character unraveled and showed her more vulnerable side was wonderful to witness, and while the movie itself had its problems, Preity Zinta did a great job as an actor.
And we can’t even begin to explain how well Riya Saran from KANK gave us a peak into what a troubled marriage with an insecure partner can look like! It was a total reality check.
Naina in Kal Ho Naa Ho gave us hope that we will all someday, choose a solid life partner who will be right for us. Though her rudeness to Sweetu (Delnaaz Irani) was unflattering, the fact that she lost the greatest love of her life and chose to love again, was brave and worth appreciation.
And can we ever forget the bold and super interesting Romila Dutta in Lakshya. Back when the film had released, in 2004, the Indian audience hadn’t seen a character like Romila, a woman who was serious about her career and craft. Even more than her love interest. In fact, she was a guiding light to him finding his own purpose.
But one of Zinta’s least talked about roles is Reet Oberoi in Sangharsh. This was one of her first few films, and she really shined through. Reet Oberoi was a CBI Officer who solved a chilling case while battling her own traumas. And Preity Zinta really did justice to her by portraying her strength and vulnerabilities together, so well.
And last but not the least, Zinta as Ambar in Salaam Namaste was super relatable and such an inspiration. She was independent and fierce and didn’t let her partner’s withdrawal from parent-hood deter her from wanting to be a parent herself.
These roles have impacted an entire generation. Thousands of desi women grew up watching Preity Zinta play unique female characters who were in some aspect or the other, aspirational and simply endearing!
Here’s to Zinta’s spectacular choices, and can we please bring these genres of films back?