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    Fashion entrepreneur Pernia Qureshi on her debut, designs and dream role in Jaanisaar

    Pernia Qureshi has literally danced her way through the transition from couture entrepreneur to a Bollywood heroine. The brain behind the successful online store Pernia’s Pop Up Shop, Qureshi is now playing the role of a revolutionary courtesan from Avadh, in Musafir Ali’s period drama Jaanisaar. She was picked after the director noticed her at Kathak performances in Delhi and at the Sufi Music Festival. Excited about her debut, Qureshi gets chatting about her character Noor, who is a fiery dancer ahead of her times, and a patriot to boot. Talking about her journey as an actor, she says she’s lucky to have played the role for a debut. “I had funny scenes, romantic scenes, fight sequences, action, a freedom struggle and drama all wrapped in one film,” smiles Qureshi, who had to master martial arts, horse riding and perfect her Kathak for the character.

    Prince and I
    Staged in the pre-independence era of 1857, the film essays the love story of a courtesan and a prince brought up in England (played by Imran Abbas Naqvi ). “Each frame of the film is like a painting and it has the Musafir Ali stamp on it — great visuals, costumes and music,” smiles Qureshi, who denies any connect with Ali’s previous film Umrao Jaan. “My character in no way resembles what Rekha played. It is a new story altogether,” she says.

    Dance act
    A fashion entrepreneur, stylist, dancer and actor all moulded into one, Qureshi insists that she has managed to strike a balance to find time for them all, though dancing remains closest to her heart. “My first memory as a child is dancing, since the age of three. My other passions —fashion and acting —have both been inspired by dance,” says the actor who feels  acting and dancing should come across as effortless to the audience, and is all praise for Alia Bhatt, Parineeti Chopra and Ranbir Kapoor from the current crop of actors. Her favourite remains Vaijayanti Mala who she considers, “feminine, delicate and yet so vivaciously sexy at the same time.”

    Stand up act
    Interestingly her first movie memory is watching Hum Aapke Hain Kaun. “I did not get tickets for the film so we had to watch it standing. I remember my caretaker “Appa”, as we called him, accompanying me to see the film, and we stood and watched it,” she says, adding that Barjatya is a director she would love to work with, as he is universal in his appeal, followed by Mani Ratnam, Dibakar Bannerjee and Raju Hirani,  among others. Qureshi feels awed and flattered at being the muse of designers like Amit Aggarwal and says, “The fashion industry has more camaraderie, with mutual love and support for each other. I don’t see that too much in films,” she concludes.
    Jaanisaar releases today.

    Jaanisar-Stills-01Live the movie
    Qureshi could not be part of designing her wardrobe for her film but is all praise for Meera Ali who designed her ensembles. “I requested Meera to make a capsule Kotwara collection inspired by Jaanisaar, that are on the affordable side for young girls, which went live  on Monday” she says, adding that she would love to design her costumes for her upcoming films.

     Niranjana Hariharanandanan

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