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She rules the Box Office in India even while making headlines as a star of American TV series Quantico. She is also the villain in upcoming Hollywood flick Baywatch. But Priyanka Chopra is more than just an award-winning actor. In an exclusive conversation with Bloomberg TV India, the star talks about her passion for taking up different roles.

I want to start by talking to you about the UNICEF Brand Ambassador that you are and the way you are working towards creating a platform for more awareness, whether its child rights or other things. You were talking about incremental changes that take place on a personal level and how perhaps they can have a ripple effect. Where does this sensitivity come from?
I think that my parents were extremely sensitive and big believers in giving back to society. That was a norm for us while growing up. So every summer, I remember — this was the time when we were in Bareilly — my parents would take their ambulance to the villages for at least one or two days. My mom was an OBGYN (gynaecologist) and ENT specialist, and my dad a surgeon. And they would take a pharmacist and two nurses and go into villages and meet patients who could not come out, especially women. And this would be our summer thing to do. So I grew up in an environment where that was the thing to do and my parents were keen to do it. They just felt that they could contribute (to the society). For the longest time we could remember, there were always two beds that were FOC (free of charge) in my parents’ hospital. Anyone could come at anytime and the treatment would never be denied. So, my brother and I have been raised thinking that when you have the ability or the position or the potential to be able to just change something around you, you should do it. We are individuals. At this moment, the only thing I can use is my platform and my voice.

One of the ideas that you put forward was using your celebrity image to impact dialogue. This also means coming into sensitive things like changing mindsets. That is not an easy business. For a a political figure, it may be easier to advocate. But as a celebrity, it is a difficult proposition to change the mindset of people. So how do you think you will you attain this feat?
I actually think that it is easier for celebrities to change mindsets. And it is not just celebrities, public figures who are loved, revered and adored in this country. And fortunately for us — Hindi film actors — we get a lot of respect and love from people not just in India, but also people who watch our films around the world. So if we feel that we have the social responsibility, which is a very individual thing, you have got to use yourself to bring about change.

I’ll not say that anyone who is a public person needs to take on a social responsibility, not at all; because you cannot do something without actually feeling it in your heart, and it has to come from within. And I believe that I want to change the world.

I don’t know how I can do it. But I want to bring about a change in thoughts and stereotypes. I want to bring a change through my work. And that is the only way I know.

For the longest time, whether it’s in India or across the globe, Indians have been always portrayed as a stereotype. Even now Indian artists are always put in a stereotype box — that we are extremely academic or we have a big fat Punjabi wedding or Bollywood. I want to change that.

We have so much more and we are going to take on Hollywood and not just Bollywood.

Even in India, for a long time, female actors were told that when films in which they are standing behind or with the guy, make ₹300 crore, they are successful. ‘Female-oriented films don’t do well. They don’t do well because people don’t watch them. The film industry is demand and supply. Box Office is the business of entertainment, it is not charitable. And you have to be smart about it.’

So our films, now, — after a decade after I did Fashion (2008) — ‘people are not watching’. People told that it is not going to do well as it is a female-oriented film. But it did so well and it opened well.

There are so many brave and phenomenal female actors who have come out and demanded stronger roles to play. So, like that, change comes when you have advocates of change. I want to be an advocate of change. How and how much? I do not know.

Talking about the evolution of female-oriented roles, how much of the success depends on script writing? How is it different in India and abroad?
Scripts are as good or as bad as people who want to watch it. Today’s generation, especially the tech generation, which has the entire world on their finger tips, can stream a movie from Iran and America to Australia, from anywhere they want.

So the exposure to world cinema is so much that today’s generation is demanding, and they don’t like stupidity. They want to see great content. Hence, films of great content are doing well. As I said, it’s demand and supply.

Globally, I do feel — because I have worked in television and I am doing a film there — the best content, especially in America, has gone into television. Everyone, be it writers, directors or movie actors, are coming into TV.

Films have become this ten-fold formula, big block buster and super-hero movies, which are also fine. That is also my favourite genre of film. May be that is what you want to see on 70 MM.

So it is a very interesting time for entertainment at this moment, and especially for a female actor like me, who demands parts I would be happy with.

You talked about demanding parts and demanding roles. You have no hesitation in playing darker roles whenever you had to. And I think you were probably one of the girls who have done it very well and you have done it repeatedly as well. I understand that in Quantico you have done this rebel. And on the other hand, in Baywatch you are going to play a villain and I think that role was originally written for a man. How does it feel? Is it more fun?
When Seth Gordon, the director, spoke to me about Victoria, he told me she is delectable, evil and fun. Can you imagine how many different people exist in this world? How many different personality traits? How many different characters can I play? So the way I see it is, whether you are positive or negative, there are so many different characters, that’s what I want to do.


Priyanka Chopra, in her eighth year as UNICEF’s goodwill ambassador from India, launched the ‘Fair Start’ campaign for every child in the country by unveiling a documentary which used nursery rhymes like “Ringa ringa roses”, “Jack and Jill”, “Twinkle, twinkle little star” and “Johnny Johnny, yes papa” to address the disparity between the rich and poor which has become the bane of the youth. Over the next year, PeeCee will launch a series of films by UNICEF that offer an insight into the lives of children who despite their innate potential are less likely to grow up healthy and safe and more likely to be married as children. Clicking selfies with students from Haryana and Delhi, she urged them not to live in a delusional world but work towards an opportunity.

“I associate myself with initiatives close to my heart. Now, I am also a ‘Girl Up Champion’ for the United Nations,” says the actress, who earlier was a part of the Greenathon mission and has also launched The Priyanka Chopra Foundation for Health and Education to carry the cause forward. “It is completely self-funded and a small endeavour at the moment but I plan to partner with bigger organisations soon.”

Speaking about female empowerment the Quanticostar admitted that the issue invariably came back to feminism. “Feminism needs to become a proud word, give women the freedom that men have been enjoying for years without being judged. Feminism desperately needs two things – one, girl love and two, more men. Women need to prop each other up and not pull each other down and men need to support the idea of getting their women their due,” she asserted.

As a spirited woman she is tackling pay disparity in the film industry head on. Admitting that it is a big issue that actors globally are paid a lot more than actresses, she acknowledged that it’s a tricky situation. “When I did Fashion, I was told that actresses did solo films at the end of their careers to prove a point. The film worked and did good business and I could demand what I wanted,” she reminisced, adding that the audience too is at fault for going to watch a ‘hero ka’ film. “Whether the film revolves around the hero or the heroine shouldn’t matter, what’s important is talent,” she signs off.


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.


The first South Asian actress to win a People’s Choice Award (PCA), Priyanka Chopra continues to slay the industry with her acting prowess, spunky attitude and never-say-die spirit. Armed with a bag full of awards — she was recently honoured with the Dadasaheb Phalke Award for her fearless rendition of Kashibai in Bajirao Mastani — and many projects in the pipeline, she is a force to reckon with on both the small and big screens, in India and abroad.

True power: “Having the ability to carve new paths and set new trends. Essentially, it is about challenging the status quo.”

On being an inspiration: “I’m just a girl doing my job; pushing boundaries wherever I can to facilitate the change I want to see in the world. If people see my journey as something they get inspired by, I feel humbled, fortunate and also a little scared. There is a huge responsibility that comes with it. There’s a fine line between pushing my boundaries as an artiste and keeping people happy because they might not always like or agree with a decision I’ve made.”

Success mantra: “You cannot rest on your laurels. You must push forward and explore the depths of your own talent and creativity.”

Exciting milestones: “Winning the National Film Award and now the Padma Shri. I come from a defence background and to be recognised for my work in the hallowed halls of the Rashtrapati Bhavan by our honourable President is something very special to my family and me.”

Striking alter ego: “I’ve had the good fortune to essay the role of some very powerful female characters and it’s difficult to pick just one. But, I would choose my role in the movie Fashion because it changed the way the audience and industry looked at female-centric films. The character I portrayed, Meghna Mathur, was flawed and very realistic, yet the audience connected with her and, in the end, was seen rooting for her success.”

On conquering 2016: “It’s been a terrific year that began with the PCA (for Favorite Actress in a New TV Series), followed by all these amazing opportunities. After playing Alex Parrish (Quantico) — she’s willing to put everything on the line for what she believes in ­— I’m now really waiting to sink my teeth into the role of Victoria Leeds in Baywatch. She’s the villain and I’m looking forward to being evil in a very different, sexy way!”


Priyanka Chopra certainly needs no introduction, keeping her current professional graph in mind. Returning to her home ground, the actress was in the capital flaunting yet another colourful feather from her myriad multi-national and multi-faceted cap — she spoke to win not just hearts but to ignite the minds of adolescent school children with her worldview, vision, experience and expectations as the Unicef Goodwill Ambassador at their #FairStart campaign.

Success and failure
“Success,” she says, “is not a destination but a journey. Yes, I am a superstar today. But I am still struggling. Struggles don’t end when you have become successful. You are known by your last failure and that will happen to every single person. You just need to strive for excellence every single day of your life. There is no substitute for hard work for anybody. Everyone is dispensable.”
She continues, “The greatest barrier to success is the fear of failure. Never be afraid to fall and fail.”

Violence and religion
The actress, who is also a globetrotter, feels pained at the violence and acts of terrorism taking place in different parts of the world. PC, who was recently spotted spending some quality time with her mother in Paris, reflected on global terrorism, and rued, “I believe in humanity. I also always believe in the fact that irrespective of where we are living at this present moment, we are going through a violent turmoil. Violence seems to have become our everyday reality. And sadly we have become desensitised to it. Every day we read and hear about deaths of hundreds of people around the globe but what do we do? Turn a blind eye? Why are we fighting anyway… for what reason? Your God is better than mine? Who has seen God? How can we be creating such disparities based on faith? Everyone has the right to have his or her own, right? It is just sad.”

Movies and social messages
Issue-based movies and their makers have got flak from the Censor Board in recent times. Talking about the moral element in the cinematic medium making a valuable impact on the populace, the actress points out, “Firstly, cinema is a main source of entertainment, and it would be wrong to mix up social issues with entertainment. Cinema is nothing but a mode of storytelling, just like books. In both the media, it’s up to the author or filmmaker to talk, write and showcase a social issue or stick to the parameters of entertainment. I don’t think we need to put the sole responsibility of changing society on the entertainment industry. It’s the job of the government. Celebrities and public figures (not just actors), on the other hand, should always be bound by social responsibilities. Whereas, cinema… can, may, should, maybe or maybe not carry a moral message.”

Feminism and Gender disparity
“Feminism just needs two things. Women joining hands to help one another instead of pulling each other down. Secondly, it needs men. Good, educated and conscious men who understand the need to have equal rights, equal participation in an equal social structure. Actually, the problem lies in our mentality/ mindset; it is in-built. Mothers can bring about a huge change too, by educating their sons. As much as we need a drive to empower our women, we should strive to empower our men by making them understand the value of a woman in a social structure,” she shares.


Priyanka is on the cover of the August’s issue of InStyle. I added the scans below. You can pick up your copy at your local bookstore!

Actress Priyanka Chopra has praised the work of mathematician and founder of Super 30 Anand Kumar in preparing children from humble background to crack IIT.

“Kumar’s work for the underprivileged students is inspiring,” Priyanka said in a statement after Anand Kumar presented a copy of the book on his life and work titled “Super 30: Anand Kumar” to her in New Delhi.

The biography on Anand Kumar has been published by Penguin Random House and Prabhat Prakashan in English and Hindi respectively.

The 33-year-old “Mary Kom” star praised the efforts of the mathematician for youths hailing from deprived family, the statement added.

Chopra had on earlier occasions also lauded the functioning of Super 30 which has helped more than 325 students since its inception in 2002 crack IIT.

Super 30 is a programme under which Anand selects 30 students from underprivileged sections and provides them free-of-cost mentoring for IIT entrance.


Priyanka Chopra is having an amazing year. Besides winning awards for Bajirao Mastaani in India, she is making giant strides in the West – not only is her popular American TV show Quantico now in its second season, she has also bagged a major role as the antagonist in a big budget mainstream film like Baywatch.

The actress knows when to count her blessings. She sighs:

“I have had an amazing acceptance in America. People have been incredibly welcoming to me — whether it’s the film industry, the press, media or the audience. Every airport I go to (that’s the only place I get to go outside; my exposure to the world is the airport), I get so many people calling me and saying, ‘Alex (her name in Quantico), we love the show.’ They speak to me no matter which country I go to. It has been an incredible experience.”

Yet Priyanka also feels that “it’s just the beginning” not only for herself but for Indian talent as a whole. The actress says, “I truly believe that everything that has happened to me, all of it, is just about one or maybe two percent of the respect Indian actors deserve in the world. We have always been boxed into thinking that we can do only certain things, but we are worth so much more. I want to be able to open up gateways for Indian talent. They should get opportunities by coming there and I hope they are even more successful than I am.”

Pragmatic as ever, Priyanka acknowledges that “it’s going to take time” but she is optimistic about the future … just don’t ask her what shape it has. Priyanka laughs, “I am not someone who has ever planned my career; I am very instinctive. I consider myself as an artist, not an actor. So whenever opportunity comes my way, I take it on if I like it. So I don’t know what is next … I know it will be something within creativity. But, if you think I surprise you, I surprise myself also!”


To ensure that every child born in India has a fair start in life and is nurtured in an environment that helps him/her achieve full potential, Unicef on Tuesday launched its #FairStart campaign.

The initiative, through a series of short films that will be disseminated via social media, hopes to change the mindset of people and help remove the inequalities that large groups of children in the country face.

Actor Priyanka Chopra, who is Unicef’s National Ambassador, launched the campaign here.

She said it would be delusional to think that we can end poverty and the disparity that exists when it comes to education, health and gender, but change can be brought about if each individual contributes towards creating a change in their social circle.

“It is the little things that all of us can do that will create a change. Every drop counts to build an ocean,” she said.

The actor added that though there are a number of initiatives by the government and others, there is need for change in the outlook and mindset so that students do not drop out of school and girls are given as fair a chance as boys to become thinking, independent individuals.

“We have become insensitive to inequalities that exist, but if we all think about how we can bring about a change in our own small way, this divide can be bridged.”

Ms. Chopra also cited a personal example of how she found her domestic help’s daughter sitting in her library reading a book during the day instead of being in school. The incident encouraged her to start her own foundation to educate underprivileged children.

Empowering children
The campaign video, made by the children, uses nursery rhymes to showcase the disparity between privileged and underprivileged children, and how they relate to the same nursery rhyme in different ways.

Unicef representative in India Louis-Georges Arsenault said if each individual starts caring, a lot can be done to empower children who have dropped out of school for various reasons and ensure that nobody is left behind.

Ms. Chopra also encouraged the students in the audience to use their privilege of studying in a good school to reach out to those who are not as fortunate and include them in their lives, be it in a game of soccer or in class.

“The youth of the county and the adolescents have the power to make the change so that when they become parents, it is with a mindset that does not discriminate,” she added.


Priyanka is on the cover of the Malaysian’s Women’s Weekly. You can enjoy the scans in the gallery below 🙂