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ELLE Cover Star Rakul Preet Singh: The Other Side

Close to completing a decade in the industry, the actor discusses the drive behind her dreams, her love for the camera, and her favourite sport

By Ainee Nizami Ahmedi  March 18th, 2021

Known across three major film industries in India, Rakul Preet Singh bring in a fresh wave of acting; the kind that cannot be boxed into stereotypical norms. It’s this very charm that makes her a delight to talk to. She is your regular girl – she loves DDLJ, she’s mindful of people’s time, and she’s got a knack for telling stories in a way that makes you feel that you are right there, by her side, enjoying the moment. Gearing up for her new Netflix release, Sardar Ka Grandson, co-starring Arjun Kapoor, Rakul is busy living life on her terms. Between chasing her dreams and being around the people she loves, Rakul takes us into her world that’s disciplined, relatable and hopeful.

On Rakul Preet: Puffer jacket by Benetton India, Bodysuit by House Of NM,
Twist MM bag by Louis Vuitton, Astro pointue booties by Louboutin World,
Sharktooth ear tops by KICHU, Watch Casio Baby – G by Casio G Shock

My first question for her, naturally, is about the star in her world – How do you define Rakul Preet Singh. She laughs, and takes a moment to respond. “I would say that I am someone who’s very, very focused. I would also like to believe that I’m much more than just the work that I do.” While acting remains her first love, her journey has been challenging. “I took up my first project, thinking that it’s a great way to make some pocket money. The film took off, and I got offered a couple of roles from the Telugu industry. I remember I would go with my dad for meetings and declare, ‘I don’t have 60 days for this. Let me know if you have any shorter projects, something that would take 6-7 days. I didn’t know how it worked.” 

On Rakul Preet: Top by Veromoda India, Shorts by Veromoda India,
Hoop earrings and bracelets by Amaris By Prerna Rajpal,
Chainlink necklaces by Tanzire, rings by KICHU and Tanzire,
red stool D
efurn Furniture

Does she regret not taking up those opportunities? “I wish someone had told me about how you need to position yourself in the industry. People started thinking that there was something wrong with me, and by the time I realised that this is what I wanted to do, I had to start small and work my way up. Each project was slightly bigger than the next, but because I did so much work, in the end, the exclusivity had gone away. I was no longer a new, fresh face. I missed that big launch.” 

On Rakul Preet: Pleated dress by Karl Lagerfeld,
Gold earrings by Tanzire, Bracelets by Amaris By Prerna Rajpal

“But to answer your question, I don’t regret those missed opportunities. I had to work my way up, and I think that is the beauty of my journey. There was a lot of learning involved and I value my work more now. At that age, I probably wouldn’t have understood the gravity of doing something so big,” she adds.

On Rakul Preet: Kimono jacket by ArokaOfficial,
Sports bra by H&M, Sierra navy shorts by CAVA,
Claw stud earrings by
KICHU, Chain link necklace by Tanzire,
Rings by Amaris By Prerna Rajpal and KICHU

As her projects grew, and she tasted stardom down South, when Rakul decided to move to Mumbai, she had to reinvent her approach. “It took me 6-7 months to learn to pick up the phone and ask for work. That’s just how it works here. In the South, your manager is doing the calls for you.” The one thing that she loves about films is the nature of the job. “Which other profession allows you to play a different person with each project?” she asks. “When I have to play a role, I think about how I can disconnect from being the real me and be another character and then come back. This job of being another person really excites me,” she shares. 

On Rakul Preet: Top by Veromoda India, Shorts by Veromoda India,
Hoop earrings and bracelets by Amaris By Prerna Rajpal,
Chain Link Necklaces by Tanzire, Rings by KICHU and Tanzire

When I ask Rakul about her favourite Bollywood memory, she shares a childhood anecdote. “I remember my first film in the theatre was Akele Hum Akele Tum. I am an army kid, and my dad was posted in Aizwal (Mizoram), and we had no cable out there. But we did have an army theatre where there would be a movie screening every Thursday evening. And I’ll never forget watching films that way!”

On Rakul Preet: Trench coat, Skirt by Urvashi Kaur,
Belt by Āroka, Sharkina sneakers by Louboutin World,
Claw stud earrings by KICHU, Chain link necklace by Tanzire,
Rings by KICHU

Rakul feels that her army upbringing defines her as a person. “The defence background is ingrained in every cell of my body. I am a very disciplined person; I have never been late to anything in my life, and I hate wasting time!” she says. “The other thing that I’ve learnt is the value of relationships. I’ve seen my mother raise my brother and me, alone at times, when my father was away. This deep sense of trust in the other person (despite not being able to speak to them), and not being overly dependent on them is something that I admire.”

Is this sense of discipline also what’s given her the love for sports? “Yes, but my parents had also put us in every possible coaching and sport class! They said you should be a jack of all and master of one (laughs). And my mom always felt that there should be nothing that we didn’t know. So, from horse-riding to tennis to swimming, you name it and we’ve been coached for it.” Is there a favourite sport? “Golf. My father always said that golf is parallel to life; it teaches you so much about life. Your score here purely depends on you. You can never give up hope or become overconfident, because till the last shot, there is a chance that the game may change.”

I end with a clichéd question – what makes you truly happy? “This, right now. I am happy with my existence; I am grateful for what I have,” she smiles as she signs off. 

Content Director & Editor: Kamna Malik; Photographer: Aneev Rao; Stylist: Zoha Castelino; Art Direction & Cover Design: Pinky Akola, Hair & Make-up: Tina Mukharjee and Salim Sayyed; Production: Imran Khatri Productions; Marketing Head: Ekta Ashar; Assisted By: Sanika Borkar, Jainee Bheda (styling), PR agency: Meghna Chadha