The newest Chopra girl

young star

The newest Chopra girl

Mannara means ‘to shine’, so here I am,” laughs the beautiful Mannara Chopra, who has made a departure from her erstwhile screen name Barbie Handa.

The lissome actor has just wrapped up shooting for Puri Jagannath’s film, Rogue, and has taken a day off to relax in Mumbai at her house. Her voice carries an alluring lilt. Perhaps it runs in the family, I think. After all, her cousins, Priyanka Chopra and Parineeti Chopra, have floored everyone with their vocal renditions.

From dancing to acting

Born in Ambala and brought up in Delhi, Mannara is cool with rubbing shoulders with her filmstar cousins who have been making waves in Bollywood and beyond. “It feels great to have achievers in the family,” she says. Mannara broke the ice in the film circuit with her debut movie, in Telugu, Prema Geema Jantha Nai. Her Bollywood outing came soon enough with Anubhav Sinha’s Zid.

“I actually started my career as an assistant dance choreographer,” says Mannara. “My work took me all across the world at a very young age. I was lucky as I was able to gain a sizeable exposure so early on in my life. This made me confident.”

So what made her get into movies? “It was more of a natural progression — I got into modelling while choreographing dance moves, and soon began shooting for commercials with Salman Khan and Farhan Akhtar. I have also worked in ad-films with Imtiaz Ali, and shot commercials with my sister, Priyanka Chopra.”

It was her commercial for a hair oil that won her instant recognition and applause. Soon Mannara’s acting skills and appealing camera presence began winning her films one after the other. The turning point came when she met director Puri Jagannath on a flight. Six months later, she had signed on Rogue.

“I play a singer in the film, so my fans will see me in a completely different avatar. The movie will be dubbed in Telugu, Tamil and Kannada, and will have me singing quite a few songs,” she reveals of the project that has just been wrapped up, and is scheduled for a February release this year.

Living out of a suitcase

Of course, it is tough to juggle her passion for singing and dancing as she shuffles between Delhi, Mumbai and Hyderabad. “I love the winter in Mumbai, Delhi means family, and Hyderabad spells work all the time. I feel the most challenging part about being an artiste is living out of a suitcase, literally. I am on the go constantly, even though I have homes in both Delhi and Mumbai.”

The past few years have brought in dynamic changes in scripts with more women-centric films coming to the fore. “I am constantly attempting new roles in my choices,” reveals Mannara. “I believe a good script essayed well by actors, male or female, can net in big box office returns and critical acclaim.”

So what is the best part about being an actor? “The crowning glory is that I get to play different characters all the time. Every second month, my personality undergoes a complete change as I slip into the skin of the new character I am playing. It is fun and challenging at the same time. I pick and choose my projects carefully to bring in challenging roles into my portfolio.”

Her days spent in doing theatre in Delhi and in choreographing songs helped her in understanding camera angles and acoustics much better. Which is why she says that a little bit of extra technical knowledge always holds an actor in good stead. 

This young actor believes her smile is her lucky charm, and hence would want to wear it all the time. Ask her about her dream role and pat comes the reply, “Meryl Streep in The Devil Wears Prada. I can watch the movie a zillion times.”

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