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Ultimate Bollywood » Bollywood Features » 2007
Archie Panjabi, Exclusive chat for A Mighty Heart
We got to sit down with Archie Panjabi, from your favorite East meets West films and now starring in the serious epic drama, A Mighty Heart. Archie is not only super talented, but extremely down to earth and well, just awesome.

Archie Panjabi

You've all grown to recognize her from some of your favorite scenes in the "East meets West" genre of films. You probably remember seeing her first in the 1999 cult hit "East Is East", where she played an instigating sister in the crazy Pakistani-British household. Years later, she played another role as a testing sister, this time to Parminder Nagra's character in "Bend It Like Beckham" as we became even more enchanted by this British actress.

You may also recognize her from the 2005 drama "The Constant Gardener," which also brought her notoriety in the global film scene. Now in 2007 she co-stars as a lead with Angelina Jolie in the true-story of Daniel and Marianne Pearl in "A Mighty Heart."

Archie Panjabi has successfully transcended boundaries through-out her career as an actress by being able to play both satirical and serious roles. But none as powerful (and well known) as her role in "A Mighty Heart" where she plays journalist and Pearl family friend Asra Q. Nomani.

She's already won an award for Best Actress for her role in "Yasmin" at the Reims Festival in 2006 and we can only assume the accolades she will receive for her portrayal of a real life character. We were extremely proud to be able to have a chat with this talented and charming British actress.

Khalid Ilahi: So Archie, how did you get started in film?
Archie Panjabi: Well, I actually wrote a letter to actor Nick Berry from the Eastenders and he suggested that I find an agent and so that's exactly what I did. So it all started from Nick Berry being kind enough to respond to me and guiding me in that initial period.

"...it is always better to not have any bitter feelings or any hatred but to come out of these times with dignity and grace..."

KI: Wow, that's quite a story. I can imagine all the people who are going to write letters to him now hoping for a break. So were your parents supportive of your decision to enter acting and did you finish school?
AP: My parents were very supportive, which was truly great and I did finish school, because they wanted me to have something to fall back on, just incase. So as long as I satisfied that concern, they were fully supportive.

KI: Can you tell me what your name means? I've never seen the word Panjabi as a last name.
AP: Well, I'm actually Sindhi but yeah, Punjabi is my real last name. I just changed the "u" to an "a." As for Archie, that's short for Archana.

KI: I see! Thanks for clearing that up. What is your opinion of Bollywood films and British films compared to Hollywood films?
AP: I do watch Bollywood films, I think some of them are great. As for Hollywood and British films, I think Hollywood is bigger, but both produce great films.

KI: How do you choose which roles to play?
AP: I like to do new things, so I always take on roles that I feel will keep me on my toes. I never want to pigeon myself, so I always like to surprise myself. I believe in versatility and so I would play anything as long as it was a challenge.

KI: What would you say was your favorite role to play so far?
AP: I would have to say Yasmin. The role was so challenging and it dealt with a very important issue the entire world was dealing with.

KI: Not to mention you did win an award for it, eh? You were indeed very good in that film, so right on! Now, I'm sorry I have to ask you this much-repeated question, but how was it working with Angelina Jolie?
AP: Oh it was great, we got along very well. As you know, she's such an amazing person in general, but to get to work with her was just a wonderful experience. She is so enjoyable to be around and I learned a lot from her.

KI: How did u feel about the entire Daniel Pearl situation when it happened and the aftermath?
AP: It was all so obviously sad, I mean how could you not feel upset and angry over something like that. But what I did learn from the entire incident and now after making the movie, is that it is always better to not have any bitter feelings or any hatred but to come out of these times with dignity and grace. That is one of the things I learned from Marianne Pearl and it is truly a great message.

KI: So what are you working on next?
AP: All I would like to say on that front is "expect the unexpected."

KI: I am also sorry for asking this question, but you know you've got tons of admirers Archie. Are you seeing anyone?
AP: Yes, but I am always window shopping (laughs).

KI: Thanks for doing this interview with us Archie, I know its really early where you are - so thanks for getting up! Everyone check out "A Mighty Heart" as it releases this Friday, June 22nd in the US.

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