Rakul Preet Singh for HELLO! India© HELLO! India

Rakul Preet Singh On Love, Life, & Living In The Moment

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Nayare Ali

After a spectacular year with five releases, portraying a variety of characters in each production, Rakulpreet Singh has plenty to be thankful for. From a doctor both in Doctor G and Attack: Part 1 to a pilot in Runway 34, from a teacher in Cuttputlli to an inspector in Thank God, she’s had a marvellous 2022, but not with any particular blueprint behind how it all turned out.

“I just want to be able to play different roles and show people my versatility. It was all organic because I’m conscious of not being repetitive with my characters,” she explains. “I want to be excited when I’m headed to a set to shoot for long hours. I’d also give credit to destiny for making these films come my way because we choose from what we get.”

In Rakul, there’s an innate desire to prove herself that she nurtures, a hunger that she puts out in the universe by verbalising it, hoping to manifest her dreams.

“I’ve not done an out-and-out love story yet, be it in southern cinema or in Bollywood. I’d also love to be part of a historical film as I’ve not experimented in this space yet,” says the star, sounding upbeat despite a long day’s shoot in Mumbai, speaking with HELLO! as she drives back home.

Multitasking comes naturally to this affable young actor, who’s done a fine job of balancing her personal and professional commitments with ease, a feat she credits to the “walking talking timetable in me”.

“You have to prioritise things. When you’renot cluttered in your mind, and if something is a priority to you, you will find time for it. I’m an early riser and like to accomplish as much as I can in a day. I like to prioritise people, as well. Having said that, I do miss out on personal occasions at times.” Rakul’s sense of discipline takes us to her army background, which also helped cultivate her love for sport and fitness.

“My dad was in the army. Fitness was a way of life for us. My parents got us enrolled in every possible sport depending on where we were stationed at the time. So we learnt everything from swimming to lawn tennis.”

“I’ve never seen my dad miss his morning workout, and for the past 15 years, my mother, too, has been training for an hour every day. In fact, they now work out more than I do! Our family also attached a lot of importance to eating healthy; we never had fried food cooked or served at home.”

Once firmly ingrained into our psyche, childhood habits play an integral role in our adult years. Even today, Rakul prefers home- cooked meals to junk food and remains a fitness buff like her parents, the sole reason for her svelte frame.

“Trust me, my Punjabi genes beat me to the calories! But I’m a complete fitness lover,” she laughs. “I used to be a junior national-level golf player during my years in school. So I just have to sweat every day. I do a mix of strength training, HIIT and yoga, and when I travel, I trek and swim a lot.”

“My mind works best when I release toxins in the morning. Sports give you a high. It teaches you discipline, tolerance and the ability to control your nerves in stressful situations,” she adds.

Since fitness and fashion go hand in hand, one can’t help but notice how Rakul’s style game transformed over the years. Her personal style, though, is more natural, as is evident from all the photographs she posts from her vacations.

“I’m a jeans or shorts and T-shirt kind of person who likes to keep it real. If you see my holiday pictures, I never have makeup on. I’m pretty basic and can’t put in that much effort into what I wear because to me, style comes from a sense of confidence, not what you wear.”

“But when it comes to events, I go with my gut. I can’t take credit away from my style team, though. I pick and choose what I wear depending on my mood and the occasion. I like Arpita Mehta’s designs, which are light and youthful. I also like Rohit Gandhi and Rahul Khanna, and when it comes to bling sarees, there’s no one quite like Manish Malhotra.”

Taking her love for all things sports to the next level, Rakulpreet today is not only the co-owner of a Hyderabad tennis team, Finecab Hyderabad Strikers, she also owns two gyms in the city, which she established back in 2015. For those wondering what her connect with Hyderabad is, Rakul is one of the most popular stars down south, who made the successful shift to Bollywood in 2014 with Yaariyan. Since then, she’s only grown in stature, having worked with the biggest of stars like Ajay Devgn, Akshay Kumar and Ayushmann Khurrana.

“Everyone is different, and the experiences were varied. With Ajay sir, I was also directed by him. He’s calm, focused and involved in his work. While working on Runway 34, he’d slip into the role of actor and director with remarkable focus. Ayushmann is spontaneous and fun. We engage in this Punjabi banter that brings great energy to the set. With Akshay sir, his discipline is inspiring, and that’s why he is where he is.”

“If there’s one thing I’ve learned from all my co-stars, it’s that there’s no shortcut to success. Stay grounded and give it your best.”

Ask her whether there’s a wishlist of co-stars, Rakul reveals she wishes to work with the “cool dudes on the block”, Kartik Aaryan and Ranveer Singh, soon. “I’m a hyper energetic person and would love to work with Ranveer because he’s exactly like that.”

Given her vast experience in southern cinema, we pick her brain on the seemingly new wave of interest in movies from South India and the overwhelming success that these films have seen in the recent past. Rakul gives us quite an interesting perspective on the subject.

“It’s not that every film from the south does well. There are a few that did extremely well, but they are all in different languages. We collectively call them South Indian cinema. RRR is in Telugu; Ponniyin Selvan: I and Vikram are Tamil films; and KGF2 and Kantara are in Kannada. All of them are in different languages and are as varied as the Marathi and Hindi film industries. Since many regional films are doing well today, it has led to pan-India appreciation, which began during the Covid period because people had more time to watch different kinds of cinema. Today, it’s content over language, which is what eventually matters.”

In her personal space, Rakulpreet has been in a steady, happy relationship with producer Jackky Bhagnani for a while now. Unlike the usual route of secrecy that most celebrities prefer for their personal lives, Rakul and Jackky have been pretty open about their romantic status.

“What’s there to hide? Everyone has a partner. I choose to speak about the people important in my life, and then let my work speak for itself. Whenever I feel the need to talk about my relationship, I do so. I don’t like speculation. Jackky and I are adults and give each other the dignity and respect our relationship deserves.”

As we gear up for 2023, we ask Rakul how she looks back on 2022. “I don’t analyse. I live in the present and think about my future. If you ask me what I’m going to do next, I have three films up for release next year, with Chhatriwali releasing in January. I don’t evaluate the past. I look to the future.”

And the future does indeed look bright for Rakulpreet Singh.

Photos: Manasi Sawant; Creative Director: Avantikka Kilachand; Fashion Editor: Sonam Poladia; Junior Stylist: Anushree Sardesai Assisted By: Misha Rawal; Hair: Tina Mukharjee; Makeup: Salim Sayyed; Wardrobe Courtesy: Aisha Rao; Jewellery Courtesy:Amaris By Prerna Rajpal; Location Courtesy: 38 Manhattan Penthouse, The St. Regis Mumbai