From shooting abroad to doing ads to performing at award functions, Preity Zinta has a hectic schedule. The actress, who is doing an advertisement shoot after a long stint abroad, has to again rush to Dubai to perform at the International Indian Film Academy (IIFA) awards.

“After this I immediately fly to Dubai for IIFA, just for one day. I’ll be performing a Shiamak Davar’s choreography,” Preity said. “I have yet to sit and finalise my item with him. The decision was taken overnight. Can you believe it, this is the first time that I’m performing at such a short notice. I haven’t even started rehearsing,” she said.

After the IIFA function, Preity returns to Mumbai to complete Sajid Nadiadwala’s delayed Jaan-e-Man and Karan Johar’s Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna (KANK). Those who have seen her in Johar’s film have declared her an outright winner in a role that entails her doing a complete makeover.

“Yes, Shah Rukh (Khan)’s wife Gauri and Jaya (Bachchan) aunty, whose opinion I value immensely, seem to be thinking highly of me in the film. I must say it felt good to be wearing clothes that sometimes cost more than the location, ha ha. But, seriously, all credit must go to Karan for being one of the best directors, and Manish Malhotra for being one of the best stylists in the world. I couldn’t have done it without them.” However, it was a big challenge for Preity to get under the skin of her character in KANK.

“In my career of 22-23 films, I have never been more unsure of how to approach a role. People are commenting on my looks. But that was the least of my worries. I had to play a woman who didn’t seem to airdrop into New York from Mumbai. My character Rhea has to blend into the milieu, and not just in dress but also demeanour. Yeah, it was tough. Thank god for my co-stars Shah Rukh, Rani (Mukerji), Abhishek Bachchan (who, I confess, out-chatters me) and Mr (Amitabh) Bachchan, who’s like the Mount Everest of acting.”

Preity is all praise for her co-star Rani. “By the way, Rani has never looked more glamorous and in-character. There is one sequence of hers with Abhishek where I have cried. Normally I am not much of a weepy person in movies. I like to keep it all inside. Only my family and close friends have seen the vulnerable side of me. For others... sorry, I don’t want to come across as a drama queen.”

More makeover for Preity — she is the cover girl of the first Indian issue of posh international women’s magazine Marie Claire.

“I guess the bubbly perky Preity has currently taken a backseat. KANK sees me like never before. And the Marie Claire cover didn’t expect me to be the typical Preity either. The magazine has undertaken the ‘let-me-be-me’ campaign for Indian women. The inaugural cover was supposed to represent the resolute no-nonsense but still fun and feisty face of the Indian woman. I like being in that slot. I am glad if I am being taken to be a woman of substance. Isn’t that what all women crave to be? “The picture was meant to be less stylish, more substantial and more attuned to the rhythm of workaday womanhood. Yeah, I do like to see myself as a woman with an opinion.”

For now, this woman with an opinion on life and art is all set to remain in India for one month after her trip to Dubai.