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Priyanka Chopra left for the US to shoot for Quantico Season 2. She’s gone for at least 3 months. The time was right to catch up with her. Excerpts from the conversation that followed:

How does it feel to read almost everyday that ‘you are India’s first global star’?
Incredible. Amazing. It’s been more than 15 years since I was first sent to Miss World 2000 (she won the title) and since then, I haven’t known anything better than to represent India on a global stage to the best of my capabilities and make India shine through me.

While you studied and nursed a few ambitions, did you ever imagine that you’ll become so famous?
I never ran after fame. Fame was never on my agenda. There’s a big difference between fame and success. Fame is a byproduct of the fact that I have been good at my job. I happened to become famous because I am good at what I do, or people think that I am good at what I do. I just wanted to be an achiever. I wanted to come first in class in every sphere- be it academics or even race. Actually, I wanted to be an engineer. I guess I would have wanted to stand first in that also.

That killer instinct was always there, you mean?
Yeah. I strive for excellence- even while I am just cleaning my room and putting things at their right places.

What if you wake up one day to find that you have lost your stardom? You fear that, don’t you?
No, nobody is indispensable. Everybody has phases in his/her career when he shines. You need to know how to evolve yourself at regular intervals if you want to keep winning (pauses).

Go on…
You and I did an interview few years ago when my films weren’t doing well, and you asked me: Do you think it’s over? I remember telling you that ‘It’s never over as long as you are talented and your creativity doesn’t die’. Like yesterday, I was an artiste in India. Today, I am an artiste in India and the US. Tomorrow, I might do something in another country. Okay, let’s also look at it this way. Earlier, I was only a model, then I became an actress, now I am producing films, and even writing columns. This all comes from being a creative person. As long as you have creativity within you, you need not fear that you are going to lose fame. I am scared if I’ll lose my creativity, not stardom. It will be over for me then. But until that day, I will continuously try and keep giving people different aspects of my work for it to be appreciated.

Fame reminds me that with it, you get an unwanted baggage as well. You are discussed for your armpits too…
I have been a girl whose life has been out in public for more than half my existence till date. So, I try to be a private person. But yes, I am quite opinionated.
I know since the longest time that my profession takes my life under a magnifying glass and understand that. I try not to be affected and take things in my stride, even in the recent armpits episode wherein I put out a picture of what it looks like. You ought to know how to take the so-called controversies with a pinch of salt.

Birthday (July 18) plans?
Nothing much. Mom will join me for few days in the US, where I start shooting for Quantico Season 2 from July 11. A few friends are also expected.

Is your mom feeling bad since you shifted out to your new apartment (in Juhu)?
(Laughs). Interestingly, it was her idea that I should have my own space. But now that I have, she is feeling the pangs.

Why are you dressed so differently in the Baywatch poster which features you?
I am playing the villain, who makes life miserable for others on the beach.

You were the highest paid actor at the recently concluded IIFA…
People can say anything, but I don’t discuss my remuneration. Yeah, people discuss the money I get. But I am not someone who wanted to be known as the highest paid actress or not the highest paid one. People confuse that and label it as ‘achievement’ but I don’t see it likewise. My achievement is to be conferred with all my honours that I have been conferred with, over the years for my work. Ek din koi highest paid hota hai, doosre din nahin hota hai— it doesn’t matter. Money is very transient in show business, but recognition stays with you till the end of time and that I have.

When are we going to hear that you have signed a new Hindi film?
I can’t do a Hindi film till March 2017. I have heard a lot of amazing scripts here and overseas recently. Let’s see which ones I end up committing to. I think I am just being greedy and I don’t know which to sign for now.

Has your process of filtration increased when it comes to selecting films?
No, my filtration process is still the same, even when I chose Quantico and Baywatch. I don’t understand strategies, which is why I have always done different things- be it Aitraaz/ Fashion/ Barfi/ Mary Kom. I have always done stuff which they say is unconventional for a Hindi cinema heroine. I choose my films keeping myself in the viewer’s seat if I would want to watch them. It’s simple. If and when mera man nahin karta, toh phir doosre ka kyun karega?

How is it going as far as your production house is concerned?
Chhota sa production house hai mera, but plans big hain. I spent a lot of time recently in my office setting up all the verticals. The team is working and we are in the process of developing content. For now, my Marathi film Ventilator is nearly complete and my Punjabi one is going on floors in Vancuover next week. Slowly, I’ll announce more films.

Your singing has taken a backseat…
I have been doing many things and I don’t want to do music until I have time to back it up, so it’s on hold for now.

Has Bollywood started seeing you with a different eye?
They have really shown a lot of love and affection this time and given me a hug and said: ‘We are very proud of you’. I haven’t been treated differently. I have been a part of the industry since quite some time, and ajeeb hi ho jayega if it changes towards me.

Let me be specific. Are filmmakers coming up with meatier scripts because they feel they are talking to ‘The Priyanka Chopra’ or is it that too many filmmakers want to sign you with whatever they have?
I don’t entertain every offer. I work very differently, I entertain only those offers which have an amazing part for the female which is me. And it has always been the same. People know I won’t do roles which are fluffy. I have always been treated with a lot of respect when it comes to work in the film industry— and it continues to be the same.


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