I feel more inclined towards stories which are real,” says Diana Penty while promoting her next — Lucknow Central. The actress plays the role of an NGO worker in the film, which also stars Farhan Akhtar, Deepak Dobriyal, Gippy Grewal, Ronit Roy and others. “Personally, non-fiction stories appeal to me more. I find them more exciting,” says Diana.
Does the process of performing a role become any different when it’s a real story, we ask her. “Performance depends on preparation. There is no denying that when a character is real, there’s a lot more to take home. But I would say it’s more solid to create a character from scratch,” the Happy Bhaag Jayegi actress says.
Diana says that she always goes to the set prepared and uses different methodology while preparing and playing different characters. “I am new to the mixed method,” she says.
Coming back to Lucknow Central, the actress says that her character Gayatri believes in reformation of prisoners. “She believes that prisoners too have a right to live a normal life and she fights for their rights. That’s why she teaches them vocational courses. Gayatri has a strong sense of right and wrong,” she says, adding, “She is a strong woman. She is a single woman in a male-dominated jail and has a certain kind of strength in her.”
Diana shares that the research she went through while preparing for the role was intense. “People commit two kinds of crimes — one is in the heat of the moment and the other is planned. Therefore, there are three parts of reformation. The jail authorities make them aware of what they have done, then make them go through various therapies like yoga, vocational training and the third is rehabilitation.”
Lucknow Central, directed by Ranjit Tiwari, is based on true events and is releasing on September 15. Diana says that the makers haven’t changed the story but have made a few creative changes. “The story focuses on these prisoners and how they go through reformation after starting a music band,” she says.
Is she aware of the activities of the prisoners at Yerwada jail where the movie’s first song was launched? “I always knew about the special unit at the jail where the prisoners prepare pickle, biscuits and other stuff and sell it,” she says.
Talking about her director Ranjit, she says that he had clarity about what he wanted. “He helped me a lot with my character and her motivations.”
Diana is also excited about sharing screen space with Farhan and says that it was a great experience working with him. “I had not really met him before doing the film. He is multi-talented and I kept hoping that I could live up to him. Not just Farhan, the film stars so many talented actors like Deepak, Rajesh, Ronit. I kept thinking that they would have great expectations from me and I hoped that they wouldn’t judge me. Having said that, it was a great learning experience.” But she soon realised that she was taking “unnecessary pressure”.
Diana, who made her debut with Cocktail, will be next seen in Parmanu - The Story of Pokhran alongside John Abraham and is happy with the variety of content in Bollywood. “It’s a great time to be an actor. Producers are taking risks and stories are getting real in terms of feel. I am trying to do different stuff because it challenges me and keeps me interested. Also, you can explore what you can do and can’t do,” says she, adding that unlike earlier when she took a long break post her first project, she is reading a lot of scripts right now and has no intentions to take anymore gaps.