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She’s “fabulous,” “endearing,” basically “perfect,” say the castmates of Quantico star Priyanka Chopra. But their No. 1, most favorite thing about their ABC drama co-worker? Her love of hearty, meaty food, a love so strong she refers to herself as… The Baconator.

Chopra’s co-stars, Josh Hopkins and Johanna Braddy, share the many things they love about the actress in a Yahoo TV video chat, and can’t deny they’re envious about her ability to chow down on burgers, hot wings, and chili dogs, and not have to pay for her indulgences with hours in the gym.

Quantico fans, it’s time. Alex and the rest of the agents we’ve come to know and love will return on March 6. Priyanka Chopra revealed EXCLUSIVELY to what fans can expect in the second half of the season. She talked about Alex and Ryan’s “explosive” relationship, the new trainees and more!

Set the stage for me when the show comes back.
No one has been able to move on from everything that has happened. The question is whether people will believe her [Alex] or not. Is there someone else out there or not — did Elias work with someone else or not? Without saying too much, the season begins with her trying to get people to believe what she’s saying.

Can you tease who may or may not have survived?
Characters that you did know may be affected by the explosion.

Is there hope for Alex and Ryan?
Their story becomes very interesting in the second half of the show because you don’t know how and where and what will happen. There’s so much water under the bridge with them, but there is so much chemistry between the two of them. So you never know what’s going to happen. It’s so explosive — the two of them together.

What about Liam and Alex? Something clearly went down.
Her whole life has been her job and people coming in and out of her life, and how those relationships are moving forward are what you see the second half of the show. There are love stories within the show also, so it will be an interesting dynamic.

Tell me about the new trainees coming to Quantico.
The new trainees are from a previous class and now they will be a part of our class. That changes the dynamic. Are they friends or are they foes? Are they on our side or not?

Describe the second half of the season.
Expect suspense, drama, betrayal. Fans should expect very smart twists and turns and redemption.


Nobody was expecting this. And certainly not in 2000 when Miss India Priyanka Chopra, all of 18 then, was crowned Miss World.

At the time, Priyanka wanted to become a clinical psychologist “to understand why people turn demented”. She also thought (and said) that India was home to two billion people (it wasn’t, we’re at 1.2 billion today). And most mortifying of all, when asked: “Who do you consider to be the most successful woman living today and why?”, she answered, “Mother Teresa.’’ (Mother Teresa had died three years before.)

What followed was incredulity and fury. “We Indians send out some bimbo and she returns with the prize, and we act like we’ve conquered the world,” Khushwant Singh wrote, “This one is singularly stupid.” An editorial in the Hindustan Times said that “perhaps Ms Chopra had taken the convent school line about the Holy Ghost a little too seriously.” The Indian Express headline was thus: India Breasts Tape Again in the World’s Great Bimbo Race.

But the “bimbo” has come a long way since. And in the last decade and a half, she’s been no stranger to criticism. Just last year, her Reddit AMA (Ask Me Anything – in which Reddit users get to interact with celebrities) backfired on her. She was attacked for her accent, auto-tuning her music, endorsing fairness creams and for a road being named after her late father. But it is almost impressive at how unfazed she is. She coolly tells me, “I’m not running for President – everybody’s opinion doesn’t matter. Haters gonna hate and potatoes gonna potate. What are you gonna do?”

This interview was conducted on the phone, since Priyanka is in Montreal shooting for Quantico, the new American TV show in which she plays Alex Parrish, an FBI trainee accused of plotting the most devastating terrorist attack on New York since 9/11. Alex is half-Indian and has spent 10 years in India, which explains her halfway-there American accent –“I had to learn the accent. I have a dialect coach on set with me and she listens to all my lines every day and it’s quite a task,” says Priyanka.

The very first scene shows rubble – and amidst it, a wrist with a black bracelet wrapped around it: on it a metal “Om” – this is Alex Parrish. “The show begins with an Om because I wanted that for good luck,” Priyanka says.

On September 27 (October 3 in India) the show opened to a mostly good response. It rated a 7.6 on IMDb and a 7.8 on The New York Times said she was “the strongest human asset on the show” and Vulture said “She’s very compelling on screen”; Salon called her character “the Indian-American heroine I’ve been waiting for”.
“I’ve just come back to the set,” Priyanka says. “I’m going to walk in for the first time after the premiere. We’re shooting nine scenes, it’s going to be a long day! I’m promoting and shooting together. I don’t think I could’ve been prepared for the hours that we do.” A few minutes later, the call drops. When we reconnect, I hear excited chatter. I imagine a frenzy of people who, if all goes well and the show is renewed for more seasons, will work together for six months every year for many years. “We’re all away from home, so the cast has become very close. We meet every weekend, despite spending 15 hours a day together. Especially the girls.”

In the beginning, Chopra’s career didn’t sound very promising. At best, there were some average Akshay Kumar-starrers, like Andaaz and Aitraaz, but most were forgettable: The Hero: Love Story of a Spy, Plan…

And then came the hits one after the other: Krrish and Don (2006), Fashion and Dostana (2008), Kaminey (2009), 7 Khoon Maaf and Don 2 (2011), Agneepath and Barfi! (2012), Krrish 3 (2013), Gunday and Mary Kom (2014) and the upcoming Bajirao Mastani is already making waves… There were misses now and then (remember Love Story 2050?), but in this long impressive list, you can forgive the flops.

It was right in the middle of all this success, that Priyanka began planning her international career. Co-incidentally, this was also a time for some anti-Priyanka sentiment in Bollywood. Three years ago, the press was aflame with gossip about just how unpopular she was among the Bollywood wives. But she is quite likeable, says film critic Rajeev Masand: “She goes out of her way to charm a person. A lot of people find that suspicious – because they judge her based on the rumours.”

So it was perhaps as a consequence of the nasty gossip that Priyanka immersed herself in her work – and looked beyond Bollywood. Ask her about the vitriolic things said about her, and she says, “I don’t want to dwell on any of that. I like to tell myself, it’s over. And right now I want to think about the fact that my show opened to a huge premiere. I’m delighted with the support people in the audience and the Hindi film industry have given me.”

The downside of interviewing Priyanka Chopra is that she (like so many in Bollywood) tends to talk in platitudes. Working on the show has “been a wonderful experience”; ABC is the “frontrunner when it comes to doing different kinds of shows”; the Quantico cast is “a very fun group of people”. But there is some wisdom hidden in the clichéd responses.

Anjula Acharia-Bath, Priyanka’s overseas manager, has been called “the woman behind the woman” because she hasn’t been an ordinary manager. In 2010, Bath co-founded Desi Hits Universal, a venture funded by the Universal Music Group to find and promote South Asian talent. Music composers Salim-Sulaiman had recorded a demo with Priyanka, and sent it to Acharia-Bath. “I loved it,” the manager says. “I had actually seen Priyanka and Abhishek Bachchan in Bluffmaster years before. They did a song called Right Here Right Now. It was a hip-hop spoof – that’s when I first had my eye on her.”

The other thing was her cosmopolitan looks. She doesn’t look typically South Asian. Priyanka admits, “I get a lot of Puerto Rican. I guess with me doing what I’m doing now, people will realise I’m Indian.” She has an international appeal, says Acharia-Bath, adding, “It’s kind of like Saif Ali Khan – he’s got a bi-cultural sensibility that I also think can translate globally.”

Bath is responsible for all of Chopra’s international ventures: her music (her singles, Exotic with rapper Pitbull, In My City featuring The Black Eyed Peas’ – and the song that nobody talks about but is the best of the lot: Erase with the DJ duo The Chainsmokers), her campaign for Guess as the brand ambassador, the 2013 animated Disney film Planes (she lent her voice to Ishani, a pan-Asian racer plane) and Quantico.

It couldn’t have been easy. “Here is an A-list actor, who had the courage and ambition to become a newcomer again in another industry,” says film critic Anupama Chopra.
“The commitment this girl was willing to put in was unprecedented,” says Masand. “Bollywood actors expect to be treated the same way abroad. If you expect the world to lay out a red carpet for you, it’s not going to happen – they don’t even know you!”

There was a time when one had imagined that Aishwarya Rai would take Hollywood by storm. But that somehow didn’t quite happen. Masand cites Shah Rukh Khan as an example. “Years ago – when he was shooting Yes Boss (1997) I think – Shah Rukh told me that he had been offered the villain’s sidekick in a Bond film. I told him, ‘It’s a great way to break into Hollywood’. But he said, ‘Why would I ever want to be a villanous sidekick in a Bond film when I can be a superstar in a Bollywood film?’”

It’s why Freida Pinto is a success story in the West. “She was willing to climb the ladder – perhaps because, as a newcomer, she’d have had to do that in Bollywood as well. The only other person to do that is Priyanka – while she’s still one of the top actresses,” says Masand.

At first, when I ask her about it, Priyanka shrugs off her anonymity. “I’ve known how to be in the public eye since I was 17. It’s just another country I’m doing it in.” she says. You were Miss India then, I point out. “But there was a time when people didn’t know me also, right? And I had to introduce myself to people. It feels exactly like that.” But starting over? She doesn’t admit to feeling disconcerted easily. But finally says, “I’ve worked for 13 years in one of the most prolific film industries in the world and then, to come to a completely new country, without familiarity… It was a little scary.”

In 2012, at a dinner party, Priyanka and her manager Acharia-Bath met Keli Lee, ABC’s head of casting. “We ended up talking a lot,” says Priyanka. “She told me what she’d done, I told her what I’d done. We had a really fun night together. Then Keli came to Mumbai when I was shooting Gunday and spoke to me about this talent deal for ABC like they’d done for Sandra Oh [Grey’s Anatomy] and others.”

Chopra read 26 scripts. “I picked four – ABC has made some phenomenal pilots this year, I’m very excited about them: Wicked City, Family… It was really fun sitting here and reading them. Quantico was my top choice, it was also ABC’s top choice for me. And Josh Safran [the creator] and Mark Gordon [executive producer] wanted me in this show as much.”

So, for the first time in her life, Priyanka auditioned for a role. A story in NYT notes that “Joshua Safran, the show’s creator, wasn’t sure what character Ms Chopra intended to read for when she arrived wearing a designer dress and carrying a designer handbag. ‘She walked in the room, and it was like the molecules shifted in that way that superstars have,’ he recalled. ‘I was very confused because I didn’t know who she was, but we all sat up straighter.’”

Safran was first skeptical because she was too glamorous. “So was Anurag Basu for Barfi!,” says Priyanka. “He came to my house and met me and said he didn’t think I could do Barfi ! because I was too glamorous. And I said, give me five days, let me work with you and after that if we both feel it won’t work out, we won’t do it.”

She is glitzy though – she has all the trappings of a global superstar. She travels with Team PC, her entourage (she told NYT: “When we walk into a room, it’s like Ocean’s Twelve”). Team PC, her manager Acharia-Bath tells me, is her core management team in America. “It started with Dana Supnick [PR], Natasha Pal [who handles her digital strategy] and myself. We always see Jimmy Iovine [the international music honcho] as part of our team because he’s been a mentor and biggest supporter from day one.” Then there are the agents, the business manager, some friends and the legal teams.

The American Vogue, last month, ran a piece titled Riding the Subway With Bollywood Superstar Priyanka Chopra: “Chopra still enjoys the benefits of relative anonymity in New York City, but when we boarded the train, people stared anyway. Perhaps because she was accompanied by an entourage of six or so people, including one very large bodyguard. Perhaps because the 33-year-old’s striking beauty literally turns heads. Or maybe something about her presence just screams movie star.” The story quoted her saying, “My team always says that once you travel with me, you don’t want to travel by yourself anymore.”


The recruits are back! And they’re not alone.

In an exclusive sneak peek at Quantico‘s winter premiere, Priyanka Chopra and her band of khaki-and-henley-clad espionage experts return to the show’s eponymous CIA training ground to discover there’s fresh competition among the ranks.

The new faces are “one month ahead of you in their training,” explains instructor Liam O’Connor (Josh Hopkins), “which means they’re better, faster and smarter than you.”

He continues, “Take a good look – because these are the people that are going to spend the day kicking your ass. … We like to call it Quantico’s version of Color Wars.”

“Or as I like to call it,” warns O’Connor’s fellow trainer Miranda Shaw (Aunjanue Ellis), “the turning point.”

Because apparently two massive explosions to come and an unfolding terrorist plot aren’t enough, now the trainees must endure class warfare. Never a dull day in the CIA, eh?

Quantico returns Sunday at 10 p.m. ET on ABC.

Watch the sneak peak here.

Priyanka Chopra talks about her Hollywood conquests (we mean Quantico and Baywatch of course!); her desi projects, including Jai Gangaajal and In My City; dressing for the Oscars — and matters of the heart.

No sooner had the appreciation for Quantico picked up that Priyanka Chopra already had her next project in the West all sorted out — the new Baywatch film. On home shores, her film with Prakash Jha, Jai Gangaajal, is up for release. As she does a tightrope act, balancing her career at home and abroad, PeeCee took a few minutes to chat with us about what’s brewing on the professional and personal fronts.

Do you feel the pressure of carrying the Gangaajal franchise ahead?
I don’t think so. I can’t do what Ajay Devgn did in Gangaajal.
Do you share any similarities with Abha Mathur, the character that you play?
I don’t relate my roles with my real life. As an actor, it is my job to play different roles. In Gangaajal, the only similarities that I have with Abha are that she is very feminine and honest; she’s fluent in both Hindi and English. Abha follows rules and celebrates womanhood.

You’ve been tagged as “the Quantico girl”. How does that feel?
I wonder… I have just done 11 episodes of the show, but the kind of love and appreciation I have received has been so exciting. I am happy that I could add something to the execution of Quantico. I am excited about being accepted in the West.

Tell us something about your production venture In My City.
I am producing this mobile series, which is a story of four girls who come to Mumbai. I am also mentoring these girls in couple of episodes. I remember, when I came to Mumbai and stayed with a girl here, we had some epic stories!

Have you thought of what you’ll be wearing to the Oscars?
Well, I have no idea because I fall in love with every next outfit that I wear. I decide things at the last minute. I’m just happy that in my span of six months (in Hollywood) I’ve already got an opportunity to present at the Oscars.

Will you be romancing Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson in the Baywatch movie?
Whether I will romance him or be his antagonist you’ll have to watch the film to find out!

So are you are working hard to get a bikini body for Baywatch?
What do you mean? I always have a bikini body! I am not doing anything extra for the film. [Laughs]

There are rumours that you’re buying an apartment in Los Angeles. Is this true?
There is no truth in this. I am juggling between countries so I have not thought of any such thing so far.

We hear that you spoke about your relationship status to a popular magazine, in an interview. What was that all about?
I never dropped any hints about my relationship status. You people are best known for speculating about me! I have always kept my personal life under wraps and I want to keep it that way.


The 33-year-old superstar has, in recent months, dominated entertainment headlines so many times that it’s getting difficult to keep track. In January, she won the People’s Choice Award for ‘Favourite Actress In A New TV Series’, for her role as Alex Parrish in the ABC drama Quantico. Later that month, she was awarded the Padma Shri, India’s fourth highest civilian honour, for her remarkable career. This is not counting all the praise she received for her role as Kashibai in Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Bajirao Mastani, which garnered great critical and commercial success. Or the fact that she’s going to be a presenter at Sunday’s 88th Academy Awards — only the second Indian to have had this honour.

Last week, a good chunk of the Indian Internet broke upon hearing the news that Chopra will co-star with Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson in the upcoming Baywatch movie.

The first movie adaptation of the cult ‘90s TV show, once the most-watched series in the world, is being helmed by Seth Gordon, whose directorial credits range from acclaimed documentaries such as The King Of Kong: A Fistful Of Quarters (2007) and Freakonomics (2010) to the comedy Horrible Bosses (2011), in addition to several episodes of much-loved sitcoms such as Parks And Recreation. Chopra will be playing Victoria Leeds, the antagonist in a staggeringly and impossibly good-looking cast.

As if all this weren’t enough, she’s also the lead in Prakash Jha’s hinterland cop drama Jai Gangaajal, which releases on March 4. As the no-nonsense SP Abha Mathur, Chopra has been seen kicking some serious butt in the promos for the film, which also marks Jha’s debut as an actor.

Holed up in her apartment in Montreal, where she shoots for Quantico, Chopra has a “nightmare schedule” ahead of her, which involves shuttling to Miami and back to shoot for Baywatch and back again. HuffPost India managed to get half an hour of her time at an unearthly, ‘walk-of-shame’ hour last Saturday for a quick chat about, well, the dreamiest phase of her career thus far. Excerpts:

We’ve been reading about your crazy schedule. How do you manage work, sleep, exercise, AND a social/personal life (if any) with all that’s going on?
There is no time for a personal life… I’m just constantly working and in a constant state of exhaustion [tired laugh]. I’ve always been like that… I’ve always been a workaholic. I’m grateful for it. As for health, I’m really lucky to be blessed with great Indian genes. My metabolism is very good and I barely have to do anything, which is great because I don’t like working out too much. I have to thank my mom and dad for that.

There’s a lot of excitement about the Baywatch movie. I remember, though, that at the time a lot of people had reservations about it — they didn’t think it was appropriate for children. Was it the same for you?
That’s not how my parents saw it. The community I grew up in [both her parents were part of the Indian Army] was very open-minded and they weren’t shortsighted like that. I’d move around a lot and, yes, I’d hear about people thinking this way about the show. But not for me, thankfully — I loved the show and grew up watching a lot of it.

What was it that appealed to you about the show?
You mean apart from the slow-motion runs? [Laughs] David Hasselhoff, for sure. Also, I loved the theme song, it would be my cue to plonk myself in front of the couch. Dostana (2008), actually, was my ode to Baywatch so it’s actually pretty cool now to be part of this movie.

Seth Gordon is a very interesting choice for a director. Can you tell us what you’ve seen of his work and how he plans to make this movie? One would imagine it’d be more of a comedy.
Oh, I love Horrible Bosses and I’m dying to see King Of Kong but haven’t gotten around to it. But yes, it’s going to be a comedy, but not a spoof, more like a take-off on that world with a lot of meta humour.

You present at the Oscars this Sunday (Monday morning for viewers in India). Have they told you what award you’ll be presenting? Do you feel nervous?
No no, I’m not nervous at all — I’m just really excited about how the evening will unfold! There were so many amazing films that came out this year; I loved Room, loved Spotlight… and there are so many others. And of course, like everyone, I’m waiting to see if Leo [Leonardo DiCaprio] will get his first Oscar this year [for The Revenant]. And, no, I haven’t been told what I will be presenting yet.

You know, there is just never any consistency when it comes to success. My entire career has been full of low phases, with some good times in between, and this is one of those.

Would you say your role as Abha Mathur in Jai Gangaajal is the equivalent of a female Dabangg? What were the most enjoyable or satisfying aspects of playing this character?
Well, it’s not a female Dabangg role because my shirt doesn’t fly off at any point [laughs]. No, but in all seriousness, it’s a relevant and important film, especially at a time like this. It talks about equal opportunities and about who has the ability to do a certain job, regardless of gender. It’s also about the vicious cycle of corruption within the system, what we need to cleanse out of that., what happens to the common man when they get stuck between powerhouses…. so it’s relevant on many levels. Also it has great music, and it’s directed by a filmmaker who is known for making movies on such subjects. I’m very excited and proud of it.

Bajirao Mastani defied the odds to become more successful than many were predicting. Do you see this as a sign of Hindi film audience taste changing, given that it also got overwhelming critical appreciation?
I don’t think this is a sign for it. Every film has its own destiny. But if you look at the pattern of films that have come out over the last five to eight years, yes, I definitely feel that the audience is changing. You can no longer tell them what to watch — they watch what they like.

This year, your production company, Purple Pebble Pictures, is focusing exclusively on regional cinema with a Bhojpuri, a Marathi, and a Punjabi film. What is it that made you do that? Do you think the economics of regional cinema are more sound and is there something about Hindi cinema business that is in urgent need of an overhaul?
See, I just want to tell stories. I’m not and have never had a ‘business mind’… I’m a creative person. Hence, when I created the company, it was very clear that PPP stands for opportunities for storytellers and true talent. Language and geographical barriers don’t matter; it’s all about great storytelling. At the end of the day, a good story is a good story, whether it’s a film or your grandmother trying to put you to sleep.

Also, I’ll tell you why I chose to make these films — it’s connected with my life. The first [Bam Bam Bol Raha Hai Kashi, in Bhojpuri] is because I grew up in Jamshedpur, which was in Bihar then. The second [Ek Onkar, in Punjabi] is because I am half-Punjabi. And the third [Ventilator, in Marathi] is because I’ve lived and worked in Maharashtra for so long. That’s the reason I chose these particular films. I will make a Hindi film too, eventually, but it will be a small-budget film with good content.

We haven’t seen a lot of you in the music side of things in a while…
Yeah, there has been no time for music in the past year. But I do plan to go into the studio some time this year. I don’t think I’ll come out with an album, though; it’ll probably be singles.

Finally, every time you get a moment to yourself, how do you feel about this time in your life where everything seems to be going your way? Do you worry about how long you can sustain or build on this, or about the (perhaps) inevitable downslide?
You know, there is just never any consistency when it comes to success. My entire career has been full of low phases, with some good times in between, and this is one of those. The only thing I’ve learnt, after all these years, is that you have to get over your failures and try and make the most of whatever opportunities that come your way. That’s all I’m trying to do.


Training actress Priyanka Chopra for the role of an IPS officer in “Jai Gangaajal” benefited her international television show “Quantico”, says director Prakash Jha.

“Priyanka Chopra has done all the action by herself. And the action in our films is very realistic, and realistic is much more difficult… She was completely fit, the muscles she built for ‘Mary Kom’ benefited us,” Jha said at the launch of the song “Maya Thagni” from the film.

“How we prepared her, taught her to salute, made her wear khaki and made her IPS officer Abha Mathur, benefited ‘Quantico’. She is doing good work because of that, on the basis of our training. And now she is doing ‘Baywatch’,” Jha said.

Priyanka’s role in television show “Quantico” sees her playing an FBI agent, which also required skilled action.

Manav Kaul, who plays the negative character of an MLA in the film, quipped that for one of the action sequences, a soft punch by Priyanka gave him much pain, which lasted for a month.

Priyanka is currently in the US, where her recent announcement with Dwayne Johnson about her being a part of the “Baywatch” film created a frenzy.

But Jha denied that her professional commitments in the US were hindering promotions of “Jai Gangaajal”.

“She is all the time promoting. Today also, she gave an interview through Skype. She is tweeting all the time, what else is promotion?”

“She has done print and media interviews for music channels, news channels even while sitting there. What would she have done if she was here? We are happy that she has been offered the kind of job that is the dream for everyone, so we are with her dreams.”

“As far as her responsibilities are concerned, she is doing the best that is possible. Unfortunately in our film, there is no dance or item number in uniform that we could’ve made her do.”

“Jai Gangaajal” is releasing on March 4.


“Clear” – This week the NATS learn how to source information from confidential informants, but when they test their skills in the real world, they soon realize being an agent is not as easy as it seems.  Meanwhile, in the future, Alex and a fellow agent find themselves in a life or death situation when they are forced to provide classified information that could result in deadly consequences on   “Quantico” SUNDAY, MARCH 13 (10:00–11:00 EDT) on the ABC Television Network.

Do you have anything Ryan-Alex related for Quantico? — Henrietta
Set aside the recent introduction of Ryan’s ex-wife, because that’s not what’s standing in their way. “The problem actually is not even Hannah, it’s what happens with Ryan and Alex after everything they’ve been through,” Priyanka Chopra tells me. “How do they get through? They love each other, but they can’t be together, because Alex is her own destruction. She’s so dark that anything good for her she runs away from. She’s so afraid of being hurt that she hurts herself [rather] than to have someone else betray her. That’s going to be her [down]fall.”


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