Right, including me with this question, being like, “Are you feeling it?” No, but it’s true. For me, there was never going to be any other way to make an international foray, I was very clear about it. If I wasn’t doing this in America, I would have done it in Australia, or anywhere. is just an extension of what I want to do. This is my step forward in trying to do something new. I don’t know, I’m excited about it. It’s a new world for me, a new culture for me. I want to be true to who I am. I think that’s the difference between doing Miss World then and doing this now is that at that time, I felt like I was a kid, and I needed to be what the world wanted to see me as, and now I feel like my flaws are what make me unique. I think the 30s did that to me.
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Chopra's first film of 2012 was Karan Malhotra's action drama Agneepath, in which she starred with Hrithik Roshan, Sanjay Dutt and Rishi Kapoor. Produced by Karan Johar, the film is a remake of his father's 1990 production of the same name. In one of several accidents to happen during production, Chopra's lehenga (a traditional skirt) caught fire while filming a sequence for an elaborate Ganpati festival song. She featured as Kaali Gawde, Roshan's loquacious love interest in the film. Mayank Shekhar noted how much Chopra stood out in the male-dominated film. Agneepath broke Bollywood's highest opening-day earnings record, and had a worldwide gross of ₹1.93 billion (US$28 million). Chopra next co-starred with Shahid Kapoor in Kunal Kohli's romance, Teri Meri Kahaani. The film relates the stories of three unconnected couples (each played by Kapoor and Chopra), born in different eras. The film opened to mixed reactions from critics, but Chopra's performance was generally well received.
She next starred opposite Arjun Rampal in the romantic mystery thriller Yakeen, portraying the role of a possessive lover Simar Oberoi. Critical reaction towards the film was mixed, but her performance received praise. Taran Adarsh wrote that Chopra "is bound to win laurels yet again the actor is emerging as one of the finest talents in these fast-changing times". Her next release was Suneel Darshan's romance Barsaat, co-starring Bobby Deol and Bipasha Basu. The film was a critical and commercial failure in India but fared better in the overseas market. Chopra's performance received mixed reviews, with Bollywood Hungama describing it as "mechanical". However, Rediff.com considered Chopra to be an "epitome of calm intelligence, who underplayed her role to perfection". Later that year, Rohan Sippy cast her with Abhishek Bachchan, Ritesh Deshmukh and Nana Patekar in the comedy Bluffmaster! Chopra played independent working woman Simran Saxena, Bachchan's love interest. The film proved to be a box-office success.
Speaking of Alex, tell me more about your character. What’s special about her? They’ve written Alex as a female Jason Bourne. She’s as smart as that, but she is also vulnerable and soft. I didn’t want to make Alex extremely macho, I wanted to celebrate femininity. You can be an absolute woman and also be smart and tough and not lose your femininity. I also love that in the show, Alex treats boys the way boys usually treat girls, as dispensable. She has no place for them in her life.
Priyanka Chopra is charismatic but diplomatic; you feel that she’s paying careful attention to you even when she’s the one talking. Her manager calls this “an international swag,” while the head of casting at ABC calls it “star quality.” It’s there in Quantico, too, with Chopra playing Alex Parrish, an F.B.I. recruit whose “I’m better than anyone else” confidence leads Chopra to call her “a female Jason Bourne.” The pilot, which airs on ABC Sunday night, is promising, part “spies go to college” flashbacks and part suspenseful fugitive story with a meaningful subversion: a brown woman on the run to clear her name after being wrongly accused of terrorism. This wasn’t exactly the case when Chopra, a former Miss World and major Bollywood star, first received the script. “Alex could’ve been from any country actually. She could’ve been Yugoslavian, British, she could’ve been of any race, and that’s the beauty of this–it’s ethnically ambiguous.” She does clarify–and the pilot makes it clear–that the character is half Indian and half white American. “The beauty of Alex is that she’s someone little girls can look up to and say,‘Hey, that’s a cool part.’” Chopra is no stranger to Quantico’s fight sequences (she points out “war scars” from her role as the titular boxer in the biopic Mary Kom), but she’s more excited for the spy craft. “Picking up things from somewhere, figuring out clues . . . she’s really good at that.” I point out that most of those “deductive” roles tend to be rich white men, like Sherlock or House. She grins and gestures to herself. “Well, I’m not a rich white dude at any angle!” “When I was in school, you never saw anyone who looked like us that was on TV.”Twitter Chopra was born in India and moved to Boston at age 13, living with her aunt and uncle. “When I was in school, you never saw anyone who looked like us that was on TV,” she says. “And that was really weird for me because there’s so many people of South Asian descent in America–in the world.” Chopra returned to India for her senior year of high school, partly due to problems with bullying, and predicts that if she hadn’t, she would have become an aeronautical engineer. Instead, she became Miss India and eventually Miss World. “I think helped me do that,” Chopra says. Chopra is the one and only client of manager Anjula Acharia-Bath, who founded Desi Hits to connect South Asian musicians with Hollywood producers. Acharia-Bath, who recalls growing up in the U.K. and seeing few South Asians on TV, calls Chopra her “passion project”; she advised ABC’s casting exec Keli Lee to fly to Mumbai and persuade Chopra to meet with her. It wasn’t exactly an easy sell—Chopra is excited about the chance to be a South Asian face on American television, but not necessarily American stardom. “I didn’t have like this ‘I want to make it in America’ kind of thing,” she explains. “I just wanted to expand my horizons. I didn’t need to do anything unless it happened to be the right thing.” She made this clear to Lee. “So I told her, the only way I would do it is if you find me a show and a path which first will put me in the same position that I am in India.” By Craig Sjodin/Courtesy of ABC Lee, like Acharia-Bath and Chopra, spent her childhood looking in vain for her own face reflected on TV. “I’m a Korean immigrant. My family came here when I was two years old. I think this is why we all connected on such a personal level,” she says. “That we want to watch television to see stories about people that look like us, so that we can relate.” Lee is the brains behind getting Sandra Oh on Grey’s Anatomy, Sofía Vergara in Modern Family, and Kerry Washington in Scandal. She also directed the ABC Talent Showcase program, where selected actors and actresses can show off their talents to industry professionals, which gifted the world talent such as Oscar winner Lupita Nyong’o and Golden Globe winner Gina Rodriguez. Thanks to Bollywood’s global reach, Chopra is a household name not only in India, but throughout the world. She isn’t the first Bollywood star to be featured in a Hollywood production—from Tina Desai in Sense8 to Anupam Kher in Silver Linings Playbook, many artists have made the crossover. Nor is Chopra the first international star whom Lee has helped make her Hollywood debut. “We’ve been hiring talent around the world,” Lee says. “It’s a very important initiative. For me personally, it’s about being diverse. Wherever the best talent is, I want to put them on to ABC shows.” With movie markets in China, Japan, South Korea, and India exploding, Hollywood productions are including more and more East and South Asian movie stars. “We’re hoping we will have so many viewers around the world to watch the show,” Lee says. “And watch her in it.” Usually, when international stars get cast in Hollywood productions, they tend to have only a couple scenes, the bare minimum to reach the audiences who recognize them. South Korean star Lee Byung-Hun was in this summer’s Terminator Genisys for all of 10 minutes, and the film still opened at the top of the South Korean box office this summer. (Here in the States, it was a high-profile flop.) Chopra and Lee were both eager to avoid that. “I d want to be this stereotype of what Indian people are usually seen as in global pop culture, you know?” Chopra says. “We don’t just have to be Apu from The Simpsons.” Despite her ambassadorial air, when it comes to the big public events that come with the TV-star territory, Chopra confesses she feels like she’s the new kid in high school all over again. Luckily, she’s already found some support among her ABC classmates. “For some strange, amazing reason, Kerry Washington has been really supportive of me, before we even met. I told her last night on the carpet, ‘I don’t think I can do it! It’s crazy!’ And she was like, ‘You can do it! Just call me!’”
But while she may be new to Hollywood, Chopra is not new to the US. She was born in India to parents who were military doctors. “Every few years we moved to different locations,” she recalls. When she was 12 she went to Iowa – at her own wish. She was curious about how her American cousins were schooled, and her parents agreed to let her study with her extended family. But she was the target of racist comments. “I was the only Indian kid in my school in Iowa. Later I lived in Queens, New York and Newton, Massachusetts, and in high school I was bullied really badly.” Children would call her “brownie” and “curry” and tell her to go back to her own country. “It was supremely scary,” she says. “I would avoid going to the cafeteria and eat in the bathroom instead.”
Destiny and fate come up a lot in our conversation. They hint at her two sides – one which feels her success is a happy accident, the other which is calculating and determined. She has, she says, always been driven. “After I won Miss India I realised I do not like failing. I just like being the best. I hate being a loser. So I just have to keep winning,” she smiles.
So Fallon and Chopra squared off over a plate of nuclear chicken wings, to see who could eat the most in 20 seconds. Chopra also equipped herself with “Tabasco sauce in case that’s not enough and I have milk in case that’s too much.” Although they both did a lot of posturing beforehand, the contest was difficult for both Fallon and Chopra. Chopra was shaking as she ate her wings, and Fallon couldn’t even eat more than one.
Priyanka Chopra 1970, Viewed 7 March 2016, <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Priyanka_Chopra>.
Priyanka Chopra 1970, Viewed 7 March 2016, <https://es.wikipedia.org/wiki/Priyanka_Chopra>.
Priyanka Chopra, Jimmy Fallon engage in chicken wing 1970, Viewed 7 March 2016, <http://www.ew.com/article/2016/03/04/priyanka-chopra-jimmy-fallon-wing-contest>.
Quantico: Priyanka Chopra is TV's next breakout star: Interview | EW ... 1970, Viewed 7 March 2016, <http://www.ew.com/article/2015/09/18/quantico-priyanka-chopra-interview>.
Sarfraz Manzoor 1970, Priyanka Chopra: 'I'm not arrogant, I'm self, Viewed 7 March 2016, <http://www.theguardian.com/film/2016/feb/28/priyanka-chopra-interview-bollywood-us-tv>.
Sulagna Misra 1970, Meet the Priyanka Chopra, the Bollywood Star Who's More Than ..., Viewed 7 March 2016, <http://www.vanityfair.com/hollywood/2015/09/priyanka-chopra-quantico>.
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