They say there’s no shortcut on the road to success, and in the life of Rakul Preet Singh, that certainly rings true. Managing an impressive tally of 44 films in 10 years is no small feat, especially when it involves shooting in three different languages. But Rakul simply shrugs it off saying, “There’s never a problem if there’s a desire to do it…”
And it is this sentiment that perfectly encapsulates this sought-after actress.
An army child, she arrived in Mumbai directly from the cantonments to pursue her acting dreams. HELLO! caught up with the svelte actress right after a spectacular performance at an event in Doha. In a candid conversation, she shares fond memories from her childhood, details on her fitness journey and the strengths of being in a relationship with an industry insider.
HELLO!: Rakul, congratulations on completing 10 years in the industry! What drew you into the world of cinema?
Rakul Preet Singh: “I was very a filmy child, enamoured by the big screen. As an army kid, I was influenced by Miss India and it was actually my mother who encouraged me to go for it! So when I was in high school, I decided to give it a try and at 18, I began modelling. But I had set a two-year time frame for this trial period. That’s when I moved to Mumbai and started auditioning. Everyone has that desire to be seen and that’s how it was for me; I stood in queues, met people and luckily things worked out. I signed my debut film Yaariyan, directed by Divya Khosla Kumar and released in 2014. Just two days after signing, I began shooting for my first Telugu film.”
H!: As a beauty pageant title holder, were you offered particular types of roles in the film industry? Was winning the crown a blessing or a curse?
RPS: “Nothing in life is a curse; it’s a journey and it all depends on how you see it. I won five subtitles but wasn’t in the top three; I held the title of Miss India People’s Choice. But the way I look at it, it was great to have the exposure. It serves as a platform for people to recognise you and in terms of grooming too, with me coming straight from the cantonments—it was the first step toward my goal.”
H!: You shoot consecutive films in Telugu, Tamil and Hindi. Does that ever pose a problem?
RPS: “I speak Telugu as fluently as I speak Punjabi, having done over 30 films in the language. I can speak in Tamil too, but I might make some tense errors here and there (laughs)!”
H!: Can you share a childhood memory or experience that has shaped who you are today?
RPS: “There’s never just one experience that shapes you! The strongest influence in my life has been my army upbringing. When I started out, I came across so many people who looked good, many who were talented, but the one thing that I had, was that I could give anyone a run for their money when it came to discipline.”
H!: You’re known for your dedication to fitness and a healthy lifestyle. How do you balance that with a demanding film schedule?
RPS: “As a child, my parents kept me busy with back-to-back co-curricular activities, so that’s a part of who I am. We were also never given sweets or fried food, which naturally led me to eat healthy. Plus, self-care is a priority for me. I have to work out before I reach the set—and I’ll even wake up at 4am to do it! You can always find time for what you love to do.”
H!: You walked for Lakshmi Manchu’s annual fundraiser fashion show this year. What motivates you to leverage your celebrity status for good?
RPS: “Lakshmi has been doing a lot of good in this space and that’s something I do, but it’s a one-off. The way I see it is that small things matter. I’m educating four girls, my staff members’ children. I don’t usually talk about it, because being a celebrity is different from being in a position to help. If God’s been kind to me and put me in such a position, I should; if I have been given a privilege, I should share it.”
H!: Your fans admire your fashion sense. How would you describe your personal style?
RPS: “On an off-day, it’s all about comfort—sneakers, jeans and a T-shirt. Professionally, you need a great team. Comfort comes first, even on the red carpet. I must feel good. I love to mix and match though; high-street with street shopping. I’m also very fond of bags and shoes—they are my weakness!”
H!: You’ve travelled extensively for work. Is there a destination that holds a special place in your heart?
RPS: “Maldives! I’m a complete water baby. I love diving, seeing life beyond what I know. It opens up my perspective on the vastness of the world and our own insignificance, keeping me grounded. Beaches offer a spiritual connection, allowing me to disconnect and appreciate nature.”
H!: How do you unwind during your rare moments of downtime?
RPS: “I’m a golfer. I started the junior circuit in Class 5 and played at the national level in high school. Golf is a great disconnect for me. I like to spend time with my family and friends, many of whom are not from the industry. I also love to read.”
H!: Is it challenging to be in a relationship with another actor?
RPS: “When it comes to being with a person, it is their qualities that attract you, not their profession. Of course, sharing the same profession can be an add-on as it helps in understanding each other’s workspaces better. In my case, he’s [Jackky Bhagnani] a producer, which takes up a lot of his time during film releases and post-production. We both understand and give the other space when required. I think that’s very important.”
H!: What’s next on your plate?
RPS: “I’m starting to shoot for a film by Mudassar Aziz, starring Bhumi [Pednekar] and Arjun [Kapoor] alongside me, which should be out early next year. De De Pyaar De 2 [with Ajay Devgn] will start soon and Shankar Sir’s film, Indian 2, is almost done.”
Rakul Keeps It Real (Rapid Fire)
A new experience: “Ayalaan was my first sci-fi film with a lot of VFX. I learned how to shoot scenes with a dummy alien and gained an understanding of how shadows are considered in such filmmaking.”
Daily affirmations: “‘Everything happens for the best’, ‘I’m a god’s child’, ‘I’m healthy’ and ‘The Universe is watching’”
Favourite book: “The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle.”
Fashion icons: “I love Zendaya and Hailey Bieber’s off-duty style.”
Something unexpected: “I’m a walking-talking timetable, I’m clumsy and slightly tomboyish—but I’m an open book so people already know it!”
A character that resembles you most: “Dr. Fatima from Doctor G —she’s strong and speaks her heart out—that’s how I am.”
Interview: Ananya Shankar; Photos: Ajay Kadam; Creative Direction: Avantikka Kilachand; Styling: Anushree Sardesai; Assisted by: Ila Parakh; Make-up: Salim Sayed; Hair: Aliya Shaik; Wardrobe Courtesy: Ritika Mirchandani; Decor Courtesy: Interflora India