Rakul Preet Singh
Rakul Preet Singh Image Credit: Yash Raj Films

Indian actress Rakul Preet Singh twice contracted COVID-19, but the ‘Runway 34’ star claims the pandemic taught her a few valuable life lessons.

“The biggest learning for me was: ‘just take a chill pill’. I am someone who was a workaholic and I still am. But what really matters in life is if you get time to sit back and evaluate that. Otherwise you are just in a mad rush,” said Singh in an interview with Gulf News over Zoom.

Singh, who will be seen playing a pilot in Ajay Devgn-led thriller ‘Runway 34’, also believes that she learned how to let the small things in life slide in the last two years.

“I learned that nature has its own ways and it very beautifully showed us what really matters,” said Singh.

As she awaits the release of ‘Runway 34’ on April 29, the actress talks about pushing boundaries in Hindi cinema and playing a no-nonsense pilot Tanya.

Here’s her take on …

Playing a pilot’s role who walks around with a borderline saviour complex:

“My character doesn’t work around with any sort of God’s complex. I don’t think pilots think of themselves as Gods. Anybody who’s in that sort of position in life — whether it’s your defence forces, or the police, or pilots — won’t feel that way. They feel responsible for the lives of so many people at any given time. Those jobs in itself come with a huge sense of responsibility and a sense of trust. Imagine you don’t know somebody, but so will you ever be ready to put your life in their hands? But during a flight, you only hear the pilot’s voice and you place your lives literally in their hands. So in that sense, a pilot is like God. But when we played that role, we felt the tension in the cockpit, the sense of panic, and how making decisions is difficult. All our decisions will impact the lives of so many passengers. It’s a difficult task.”

Ajay Devgn and Rakul Preet Singh in 'Runway 34'
Ajay Devgn and Rakul Preet Singh in 'Runway 34' Image Credit: Yash Raj Films

Her legwork for playing the pilot’s role:

“We had about three-four days of cockpit training. Both Ajay [Devgn] sir and I learned the controls on the panel. We were careful about using the right language and what buttons we were pressing while doing so. We became well-versed with the cockpit. I can definitely fly a plane now, but I don’t know if I can make it land … I remember making notes because I was worried how I was going remember all those instructions. We tried to learn everything about flying a plane in two or three days. At all points, we had a captain on set who was guiding us through every shot. We were shooting in a real simulator as we wanted it to be authentic.”

RAKUL IN RUNWAY-1651146932139
Rakul Preet Singh in 'Runway 34'

Working with Ajay Devgn after their hit ‘De De Pyaar De’:

“I had worked with him before. And I felt a huge sense of appreciation when he approached me for his directorial. Knowing that he felt I could love up to the role he had envisioned filled me with a sense of accomplishment … He’s someone who knows the craft of filmmaking at the back of his head. Acting and direction comes so naturally to him. He’s seamless. He’s a hands-on director. ‘Runway 34’ was a difficult film because you need to create that sense of tension in a small cockpit and you need to make your audiences feel that the plane is crashing … We used about seven cameras in a small cockpit. I was in awe from the first day itself. And he’s technically brilliant. He would set up a shot, do a couple of rehearsals with everyone and then change into his pilot’s uniform to shoot that scene. He then checked everyone’s performances including his own … He lets you be.”

190210 Rakul Preet Singh
Rakul Preet Singh Image Credit: Supplied

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Her own process as an actor:

“I am a spontaneous actor … If I am shooting an intense scene that requires a certain amount of palpable tension, then I am not going to be laughing around and then get into the zone in a snap. I stay in the zone of what my character is feeling on a particular day … I am greedy for good roles and I have a lot more to do. Today I am in a position where I have good roles in good films. I have also been able to get so much love from the audiences whether it’s in South Indian or in Hindi films. I am just grateful to be here.”

Don’t miss it!

‘Runway 34’ is out in UAE cinemas on April 29.