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The year was 2000. Priyanka Chopra, all of 18, had just moved to Mumbai after becoming Miss India (World). Having won the Miss World title as well, she had stars in her eyes and her sights set firmly on becoming a superstar. She even told a close friend that some day she’d be the face on all the billboards along a well-known stretch of Juhu Chowpatty.

Of course, that has happened multiple times during her 15-year-long career in the Hindi film industry but even Chopra could not have never imagined that some day, her face would be plastered on virtually every taxi top, billboard, city bus and subway station from New York to San Francisco.

After having acted in over 50 Hindi films, in a major professional gearshift, Chopra is now a star on American television, having been cast as lead in ABC’s Quantico. In a show The New York Times (NYT) termed as ‘Homeland meets the Shonda Rhimes oeuvre’, she is front and centre of an ethnically varied cast as Alex Parrish, an FBI trainee accused of plotting the most devastating terrorist attack on New York since 9/11.

Parrish is half-Indian, has backpacked across India and Pakistan, and wears an Om bracelet. But her ethnicity is incidental, and Chopra wouldn’t have had it any other way. “When ABC approached me with the talent development deal, the only thing I told them was that I want to play an ethically ambiguous character. Alex could be from anywhere in the world,” the 33-year-old actress tells Forbes India on the phone from Montreal, Canada, where the show is being shot. There’s no Apu-esque (from The Simpsons) stereotyping, she points out. “Growing up, I loved watching The Simpsons even though I would be quite annoyed by Apu. I didn’t know anyone who spoke like him.” But even so, while in high school in the US, Chopra was teased by mimicking Apu’s accent. “Somewhere that childhood trauma has stayed with me.”

ABC sent her over 20 scripts, of which Quantico stood out, she says. “Whether it’s the movies, TV or music, I love pop culture. Quantico is quintessential pop entertainment. It’s not saying ‘we are art, take us seriously’. At the same time, it doesn’t take your intelligence for granted.” As for Parrish, “I love the character. Alex is a driven modern woman. She is badass, flawed and so confident. It was interesting for me to play such a strong character week after week.”

Quantico premiered in the US on September 27 and in India on October 3. Created by Joshua Safran, a former executive producer on the popular Gossip Girl, the drama-thriller has been the biggest hit of ABC’s fall lineup and the channel has upped the show’s first season from 13 episodes to 22. It rated a 7.6 on IMDb and a 7.8 on In the US, the show opened to mostly positive reviews, with Chopra proving a worthy lead; Quantico is also already airing in the Middle East, Southeast Asia, Australia, South Africa and Brazil.

Add to this, a successful Bollywood release, Dil Dhadakne Do, already this year, and Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s opulent Bajirao Mastani generating high-octane buzz before its December 18 release, and Chopra, who ranks 13th on the 2015 Forbes India Celebrity 100 List (compared to 12 last year), can have few complaints about 2015.

The defining feature for Chopra’s year, however, has to be her ‘crossover’ to the US. And this leg of Chopra’s journey started in 2012 when, along with her manager in the US, Anjula Acharia-Bath, she met ABC’s head of casting Keli Lee. A Korean immigrant, Lee is the force behind ABC’s ethnically diverse casting, whether it’s Sandra Oh on Grey’s Anatomy, Sofia Vergara in Modern Family and Kerry Washington in Scandal.

When Lee and the team from ABC flew down to Mumbai to meet the actress, Chopra was clear that she’d be interested only if the role was at par with her standing in the Hindi film industry. “There were TV shows and movies that were offered [to me] before this one as well. But I wanted a part that put me on the same platform as [I had in] India. I wanted to play a leading part. I didn’t want to settle for anything less.”

At the same time, while many of her Indian counterparts would have balked at the idea of having to audition for a role, Chopra was up for it. Her stardom was immediately evident to the producers. As an NYT article about the show notes, “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 into 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’.”


Quantico‘s breakthrough actress Priyanka Chopra may be a newcomer to Hollywood, but she’s one of her home country of India’s best-known and most successful stars. She’s the first to say that balancing life in America and her Bollywood career is a challenge – but one that she’s more than ready to take on.

She has said in the past, “I’m going to make it work. I can’t and won’t let either one go.” And in an interview with HELLO! India, she explained where she gets the passion to take on the task. “At the heart of it all, I am an entertainer and that’s what I love to do, irrespective of the geography or the medium,” she said. “My career graph is filled with moves that were often deemed as professional suicide… but somehow those big risks have worked for me.”

She added: “I work very hard to ensure there is a balance between Hindi movies and everything else I do because for me Hindi movies were never just a stepping stone – but more like my heart and soul.”

Her background as a film star in India gave her a firm foundation to take on her action role as an FBI trainee in the ABC hit. For example, she revealed that for her starring turn in the Indian film Mary Kom, the 2014 biopic about the world champion boxer, “I had to undergo serious training in order for me to look and act like a champion boxer. The physicality and the mental toughness that role required really helped me with Quantico. So it wasn’t a new process for me.”

Priyanka describes her character in the series as “a young, liberated, educated, strong, intelligent woman of today who knows what she wants and is not shy about that.” The breakthrough role is also one credited with challenging stereotypes in American popular culture. “I was very clear that I wanted to be cast for the respect of being an actor, not for the color of my skin, and ABC gave me that,” she said. “We do have a diverse cast – but that’s what makes the storyline so interesting.”

Asked about any complements she’s received from her Quantico co-stars, she replied: “I’m not one to blow my own trumpet! They are a hugely talented bunch of people with an incredible body of work and I am excited and privileged to be working with them. I will share one compliment from them… that I can kick some serious a**!”

In the HELLO! India shoot, though, she’s styled not as a TV toughie, but along vintage lines – which Priyanka thoroughly enjoyed. “I think there is a certain grace, dignity and beauty that the glamour of old Hollywood and Bollywood have,” she reflected. “In many ways, it brings out the goddess in you. There is a certain drama… an intricate, powerful story being told.”

But, that’s not to say the actress, who has previously shared her beauty secrets with HELLO!, is a die-hard fashion fan. “I hate shopping for clothes and shoes unless I really am in the mood for it, which is usually in airports when in transit! But I love shopping for books, DVDs and gadgets. I can spend hours in those stores browsing, testing, reading and buying! Love, love, love it!”


‘You don’t control who you love. Pyaar ho jaata hai. Decide thodi na karte hai isse pyaar karna hai. It just happens.’

‘Bandisho mein hum bahut bandhe rahte hai. We have too many rules. We judge people too much. Society puts so much pressure.’

After Shah Rukh Khan, more love talk from Priyanka Chopra.

P Rajendran/ in New York takes notes.

Priyanka Chopra was exhausted after a 7 am flight to New York. This, after finishing a day of seven scenes (of filming Quantico) in Canada.

“When you want global domination, you have to pay a price — and I’m paying it,” she says, with a laugh.

Priyanka was addressing the media during a promotional event for her big release, Bajirao Mastani. Of course, she’s used to working long hours — she flew down to Mumbai for a press conference for her film, spending 48 hours in flight just for it.

Her humour stays intact.

She mock complained about the weekends people enjoy in the US. “You’re really spoiled, you have weekends. We even go to school on Saturday!” she exclaims.

The one thing she refuses to compromise on, she says, is Indian food, and a cook ensures she always gets it. (“Best after party food: Anda Paratha!”).

She then gets down to business, and starts fielding questions about herself and her role as the rejected wife in Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Bajirao Mastani, a character that history forgot.”

Your journey has been phenomenal — from Bollywood to Hollywood, and Hollywood to Bollywood. What are the challenges you’ve faced so far?
There are challenges in everything that you do. I’m not looking for one country or two, I’m looking for global domination (laughs).

Seriously, it’s never been a calculated plan for me. I’m a nomad army officer’s daughter. I can adjust anywhere. So I go where my work takes me.

People always ask me where is home and I always say, ‘a plane,’ because, you know, when Bajirao releases I’m in India, when Quantico releases I’m in America.

My work dictates my life. It has since I was 17 years old, and I hope that it keeps taking me to fascinating new places.

Of course, the most challenging thing for me was from Hindi films — I don’t like calling it Bollywood — to Quantico. The difference between movies and television was difficult for me.

I’ve been trained in one of the most prolific film industries in the world, so I had an edge over almost everybody. I knew what I was doing. I had to just go on sets and bang out the scenes.

But (the difference between) movies and television, nobody sent me that memo. I didn’t know then that we shoot 16 hours a day and, like, nine scenes a day. That took a toll on me. But, besides that, it was super fun.

And I was shooting Bajirao and Quantico together, so it was pretty schizophrenic.

This is a question to an army officer’s daughter from a late army officer’s wife. What would be your message to your younger you now?
That’s a great question.

I think I would tell the younger me not to panic. I used to panic a lot as a kid because I started working when I was 17.

Do you remember yourself at 17? It was a lot of responsibility, you know, to arrive on film sets.

I didn’t know what it was to be a professional actor. I did not know what it was to be a professional anything.

My acting career has been sort of my film school. I learned everything there.

So I think I would tell my younger self that as much as life is short, it’s really long. You have enough time to savour and you don’t have to know everything at that moment.

Life gives you the opportunity to be whoever you want to be as long as you are willing to work hard at identifying what you want to be. You shouldn’t be afraid of hard work, and I think I never was afraid of hard work.

But I used to really get scared when I was put in situations I didn’t know.

So I would tell myself that if you learn, if you’re willing to acquire knowledge, you can do anything.

Your character Kashibai, Bajirao’s wife, was one of the figures in history that was forgotten. How important was it for you to get the details? How much research did you do?
This is a film Sanjay sir (Sanjay Leela Bhansali, director) has been wanting to make for almost 12 years. He’s such a stickler for details that that part was taken care of for me.

I always play such badass stuff, like modern-day powerful characters, that to go into the body of someone who is like her (Kashibai) is, you know (pauses), heartbroken, a silent sufferer, dignified, resilient, can’t take charge of her life, goes with whatever life throws her way… Just grace under fire, I guess.

I hadn’t played characters like that, who is so gentle, fragile, and naive. I always played intelligent, smart, you know, ballsy girls. And Kashi wasn’t that.

That was really hard for me. I don’t know if I’ve pulled it off — to have people believe that I can’t take care of myself (laughs) because I kinda can. That was hard.

The outfits took me about four hours to get into because it was a 11-yard sari which has to be draped in a Brahmin Maharashtrian style, with a trail and everything. It used to take about to two hours to drape it. And standing there when someone’s draping it is a lot!

The dialect wasn’t even Marathi, it was a 500-year-old dialect, which none of us will know what it sounds like. We had a lot of dialect coaches. It’s a Hindi film so it’s obviously Hindi-spoken but I have a sort of Maharashtrian spoken lilt. All of those detailings were hard.

But more than anything, Kashi was emotionally difficult. I’m a very instinctive actor. I’m not method. I’m not someone who preps, someone who reads their lines. I come on set and it happens.

I let my instincts take control — and I was all over the place with Kashi because the way I would react is probably the opposite of the way Kashi would react (laughs).

The film starts with me. It starts with my house, Shaniwarvada, which is Kashi and Bajirao’s home. So the film started with me and they finished my bits by July. Then they did Deepika’s (Padukone) parts because I had to travel for Quantico.

How would you describe Bajirao Mastani?
It’s epic. That’s the one way of explaining it. The scale is massive. The grandeur is massive. It’s the forbidden story. And that’s what’s amazing.

It’s not what the history books tell you. It’s what happened in between the wars. What happened when Bajirao was at home. What happened when Kashibai was at home. What were they thinking. You know, the things the history books don’t talk about. It’s the imagination of the director, and the book on which it’s based.

I think that’s what is very fascinating for me — that we’ve taken historical figures and told the story that no one knows or talks about.

Bajirao-Mastani’s love story has been known for eons. It’s the forbidden love story that’s been never accepted.

We need to see Bajirao, but it apparently looks like it’s going to overtake Dilwale.
I don’t even want to encourage that (view) because I don’t see both films as competing with each other. As much as people are trying to pit the films (against each other), you can’t. I mean, come on, I want to watch both films!

What message did you take from this film, being Kashibai?

That you cannot force love, I think.

I was trying to understand what would someone’s position be in this situation. None of them are wrong. You don’t control who you love. Pyaar ho jaata hai (Love happens). Decide thodi na karte hai isse pyaar karna hai(You don’t decide you’re going to love). It just happens.

Bandisho mein hum bahut bandhe rahte hai (We get tied up by constraints). We have too many rules. We judge people too much. Society puts so much pressure.

This story is 500 years old. Obviously, it (an affair) was extremely forbidden. But grace in situations like this — especially as a woman — is very important, and that’s what Kashi showed. She had dignity and self-respect. And she accepted the fact that she loves someone, and that person loves someone else, but she still can’t stop loving him. It’s so sad.

I took her home every day. Yes, the love story is about Bajirao and Mastani. That’s what the film is. But Kashi is so pivotal. She’s like a petal that somebody walked on, so gentle and fragile.

You have constantly reinvented yourself, whether it’s Mary Kom, Barfi!, Quantico… Does Kashi live up to that standard of reinvention to you?
For me, yes.

I don’t know about you. When you watch the film, you can tell me.

I’ve never seen myself like that. First of all, I’ve never done a costume drama. I always wanted to do a period film, and doing one with Sanjay Leela Bhansali is even better. It’s the icing on the cake. Plus to embody a character that has no reference.

That happened to me with Barfi! I had no reference to play Jhilmil. She was like nothing I had ever known. And Kashi is like nothing I’ve ever played before.

I like to play characters which I don’t repeat because I think I’ve got ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder). I get bored very soon. I need to keep myself entertained, challenged. I always look for what next to do, how else to outdo myself.

What was preparing to play Kashi like?
Very difficult. I had to depend a lot on my director because he’s done research for a decade. Nothing I could do could compare to that research. But being a modern-day girl, every time I used to enter the set, I felt like time travel happened.

I felt I was in a time machine because the sets were so beautiful and real and huge and we had our own rooms. We used to call my room Kashi Villa (laughs). It was a huge room.

How different is Kashi from the other roles you’ve done?
She’s not empowered. She’s just a housewife. She’s the peshwinbai (the peshwa’s wife) . She’s the queen, not a warrior or a dancer. She takes care of the home and waits for her husband to come back from wars.

She’s simple and ordinary.

When an ordinary person goes through so much pain, that journey becomes extraordinary. And to me, that’s what happened with Kashi.

What are your views on women empowerment?
You know, women empowerment has become a (term) we’ve begun using without really knowing what it means. Like ‘feminism,’ you know.

Basically, women want to be treated and given opportunities that makes them the best that they can be.

For years, we’ve been told how to behave, what to say, what to wear, how we need to be. It’s time you own whoever you are.

Most of the time — and not just women — (all) young people today are always trying to (meet local standards) because of peer pressure. It happened to me when I was in high school (in Bayside, Queens, New York). There was major pressure.

But I think you should be proud of who you are — it’s damn cool to be desi!

Secondly, all of us have flaws, no one is perfect. You should see my pictures from when I was 13. I’ve burned them all!

We’re all super flawed but that’s what makes us so unique. And that’s what feminism stands for — it’s to own whoever you are, whatever you look like. Eventually we all have the same features; we just come from different countries.

We’ve started dividing ourselves too much, I think, as a world.

Since I’ve been in America, I did not know so many colours existed in human beings. I’d like to see the world as colour blind, you know.

I think we’ve forgotten humanity along the way. We’ve lost our perspective a little bit. Let’s go back to seeing what humanity was rather than saying this is better. We’re judging people so much.

For me that is what empowerment is. Whether it is woman or man, it doesn’t matter.

What was it like acting with Deepika Padukone?
I was super happy. I’ve known Deepika from before she joined the business. We had common friends. I’ve known her for a really long time. We’ve been friends before we became colleagues.

Ranveer (Singh, who plays Bajirao) and her are both great.

Ranveer and I have done three films together, so there’s a huge comfort zone. I can bully him as much as I want. You know, I’ve been in the business longer.

Deepika and I used to gang up against him all the time. It was great fun.

She’s a great girl, super talented, extremely beautiful. I could not have asked for a better partner.

I don’t think anyone could be better than Ranveer and Deepika to play Bajirao and Mastani. They are carrying the movie, so it’s very important that these two characters were correctly cast.

I remember I was the first one to be cast. There was so much deliberation in that office. I was doing Mary Kom at that time and I used to see (the cast) pictures changing every day and conversations about who could do what.


DIRECTOR: Sanjay Leela Bhansali
STARRING: Ranveer Singh, Deepika Padukone and Priyanka Chopra
RATING: Read 🙂

Finding nuance in a Sanjay Leela Bhansali film is like finding poor people in a Karan Johar film.

If OTT had a human form, it would sport a beard, glasses and would be spelled as SLB.

From palatial sets, detailed costumes, spellbinding cinematography, the film is so opulent it might as well be called Bhansali Mastani.

Bajirao is an ambitious warrior. And we believe it too because we are told in a did-you-know-the-fact-that he is the only warrior in the country who has won 40 battles back to back. Woah yeh warrior hain ya battlefield ka blockbuster Salman Khan?!!

He is so ambitious that he wants to dethrone the Mughals from Delhi and rule the entire country. But that can wait. Because he is busy cosying up with his wife first, then his girlfriend, then make babies with the wife and then girlfriend!! Lucky bugger, I know. It’s a choice between high libido and valour, and with Deepika and Priyanka around, it’s quite an obvious choice.

So all the events and dialoguebaazi that should have led to an attack on the Mughal Empire is conveniently forgotten and we witness his relationship status change from being married to married again, to complicated, and all this painfully stretched over a period of time. I could almost see his invisible Facebook updates; Mastani is hot, feeling excited. Kashi is my wife, feeling dutiful. Mom is against inter-religious marriage. She is so intolerant. Feeling frustrated.

The film is smart, gimmicky. The script is manipulative. So is the timing. To release a love story torn in a religion tussle will work keeping the current situation in our country. The scenes are written knowing they will earn a thundering applause here, a tear and a smile there. But it all works. The scenes between the husband and wife, the son and the mother and even the wife and the mistress have interesting wordplay and no matter how filmy, they do evoke emotions. In a scene Bajirao uses, doobta sooraj, khilta chand, dharam ki zanjeer and mohabbat ki aag, all in a sentence. But Ranveer Singh lends so much honesty and meaning to these dramatic words that it works. Also, we have heard worse in Bhansali’s Ram Leela. Remember jigar forcibly rhymed with trigger in name of creative writing?!

Ranveer Singh does deliver a fine performance. He speaks in a certain Marathi accent and he is consistent at it. Priyanka Chopra shines in a couple of scenes. And Deepika Padukone proves herself yet again. She is so gorgeous yaar. Gorgeous with that nose pin, that hat, that mandolin. Gorgeous when she holds her baby and fights all those soldiers singlehandedly. I almost stood on my seat and screamed, ‘Maar Mastaani Maar!’ Okay, calm down Lokesh. I get distracted. And then there is Tanvi Azmi. Spectacular.

The film is a good one-time watch. The first half had me strapped to my seats. It was well paced. The second half got way too weepy and self-indulgent. Also the film shows two sons born roughly around the same time grow at different paces. One of them grows into a teenager sporting a muchchi while the other one is barely reaching his mom’s knees. Complan boy, we wonder?!

If you gush calling Bhansali an artist, his movies oh-so-beautiful, sheer poetry and all that, then Bajirao Mastani won’t disappoint!


Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s ‘Bajirao Mastani’ is a stiff acting face-off between Deepika Padukone and Priyanka Chopra.

‘Bajirao Mastani’ is director Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s dream project that has been under the limelight for a long time. It is by far the most artistically ambitious and evocative tale of love directed by Bhansali. The movie stars Deepika Padukone, Priyanka Chopra, Ranveer Singh and Tanvi Azmi.

Chunks of opulence and splendour appear across the scenes involving scorching chemistry between the lead actors in this period drama. The entire milieu is so richly textured that you’ll want to reach out and touch everything. This is the real experience – the reality.

Bhansali’s unique vision along with opulent sets, flamboyant costumes and ostentatious jewellery creates a rich canvas that oscillates amid the art-house and commercial genre, simultaneously. Although the film is steeped in brilliance with nuances of aesthetic beauty sprinkled in every frame, Bhansali couldn’t avoid to add the sugar-coated commercial claptrap in order to get his movie the desired attention by the masses.

The story unfolds with a rare simplicity that draws the audience into its arms. Bhansali swiftly steers the ship into the right direction by making right use of commercial elements to keep the audience glued to the screens. However, the commercial elements hinder the impact of narrative at certain instances, but the overall experience remains crisp.

‘Bajirao Mastani’ is primarily significant for its charismatic cast with Ranveer Singh giving his career best performance. He stars in this period saga as a Maratha warrior Peshwa and makes his presence felt in every frame he appears in. Singh has made a career by playing complicated roles in movies like ‘Lootera’ and ‘Dil Dhadakne Do.’ In ‘Bajirao Mastani,’ he gives his blood, sweat and tears to portray an extremely complex role with a transformative turn, which deserves due praise and acknowledgment.

On the other hand, Deepika Padukone has an ethereal presence that makes her all the more alluring. The quite passion in Padukone’s enormous eyes made her seem unpredictable. And, those wide-eyed expressions with tremulous lips made Padukone’s performance even better. She is thrilling in the role of Mastani. I mean what a triumph – ‘Piku’, ‘Tamasha’ and now ‘Bajirao Mastani’.

Priyanka Chopra, meanwhile, resists every temptation to avoid the melodrama and keeps her presence vivid, enriching and superlative – you couldn’t quite say that of her work in ‘Dil Dhadakne Do’ or ‘Mary Kom’. Her compassionate screen presence takes her to the pinnacle of emotions that are extraordinarily enthralling. Chopra reasserts her status as one of the contemporary cinema’s most expressive actress by giving a highly enriched performance – with emotions on her visage as a testimony of piercing sorrow and angst. Bravo!

If the blazing chemistry between Singh and Padukone is the highlight of this film, then the richly observed and finely calibrated facial expressions of Chopra are the heart and soul of ‘Bajirao Mastani.’ Bhansali, with the help of three extremely talented actors, gives us a ravishing tour de force.

The entire film is exquisitely put together to please the sensibilities of moviegoers. Beyond merely dictating the story to the viewers, Bhansali uses his creative abilities to give a message of finding peace even in odd circumstances. As a viewer, ‘Bajirao Mastani’ is a deeply satisfying experience.

Rating: ★★★★


It is often heard how directors are usually left helpless and frustrated because of the cat-fights between their film’s heroines, but Sanjay Leela Bhansali has a different story to tell.

In an interview to a leading daily, Bhansali expounded on how his movie’s Kashibai and Mastani gelled with each other like long lost friends, and how their BFF bonding made him sulk! “I was expecting their chairs to be back-to-back, making catty remarks about each other. I wanted some drama to unfold. Instead, they were like giggly schoolgirls,” he said. ” I wanted them to be competitive in the song Pinga. I know both of them are competitive in their minds. I told them…it’s not that you both are really all plain Jane and simple, so show me that. But they didn’t budge. Sigh! So, I said… go ahead and gossip about your shopping,” said the director.

Bajirao Mastani that is all set to release tomorrow starrs Ranveer Singh, Deepika Padukone and Priyanka Chopra in the lead.


For anyone who has been following Priyanka Chopra’s career graph, it has been a year of triumph for the 33-year-old actor.

Thirteen years in the film industry with nearly 60 films to her credit, Chopra has emerged as one of the most buzzing entertainers in India and, now, in the United States of America. Thanks to her top-lining act the television drama Quantico, Chopra is now a recognisable face in America, toasted as much for her acting abilities as for her sensuality. It’s quite a feat, especially when you consider how Asian actors in the West are usually cast as ethnic stereotypes or anointed regional brand ambassadors for luxury brands, fit only to walk the red carpet at film and fashion events.

The well-received series is the fruit of a few years of persistent efforts on the part of the actress to get a Louboutin hold in the American entertainment industry. An endorsement of the Guess jeans brand earned Chopra some eyeballs thanks to a glamourous shoot by singer and photographer Bryan Adams, while her musical adventures with Pittbull and did not help her break any new ground. However, her trendy American accent and the “ethnically ambiguous” character of Alex Parrish in Quantico more than compensated for her average vocal talents and “exotic” appeal.

In an email chat with, Chopra, who has been wrapping up the season finale for Quantico while simultaneously promoting the December 18 release of the period movie Bajirao Mastani, insists that there have been not one but several turning points in her life. “Every few months or years,” she said. “Being successful isn’t a destination but a journey. Of course there are some failures but I personally think you have consistent turnarounds.”

The last few months have been extraordinary for Chopra, whose filmography has had its peculiar lows and highs. On one hand, she has done a surprising number of cameos in films and on the other, she has taken up challenges such as playing a serial killer in 7 Khoon Maaf (2011) and an autistic woman in Barfi! (2012).

As recently as three years ago, Chopra was in the eye of a storm for her link-up with Shah Rukh Khan. Her publicity machinery struggled to ebb the flow of damaging reports about the alleged affair (denied by both stars) and fallouts with some of the most influential filmmakers and lobbyists in the film industry. Coupled with her father’s demise due to cancer, Chopra was certainly not in a happy place.

But the actress, who has rarely let down her fiercest critics even in dismal movies, exhibited serious grit and resilience and turned the tabloid wheels in her favour. Beginning with a new public relations team (Raindrop Media) that stepped in for crisis management as well as an image makeover, Chopra played the legendary pugilist Mary Kom in the movie of the same name in 2014. Chopra’s performance punched a big hole into the theory that her career was over.

Not to be underestimated

How much of Chopra’s resilience because of canny planning and how much is just pure instinct? “Upwards and onwards… that’s what I always say,” Chopra said. “I am passionate about what I do and I’ll never give that up without a fight. Life is full of ups and downs and I learnt early in life to pick myself up after a fall and march right on. It’s pure instinct. I don’t know any other way.”

Indeed, from being a social pariah, she was back in the thick of things, partying, working and clicking pictures with the very people who had allegedly cast her out. In 2012, Chopra was a brief but striking presence in Agneepath (2012) and put in an endearing performance in Barfi! Despite losing out the tailor-made lead role in Happy New Year (2014) to Deepika Padukone, she was back in the arena as Mary Kom and was in top form in Dil Dhadakne Do (2015).

According to those who have worked with the star in various capacities, Chopra stands apart from her peers by her hunger to stay on top of her game. “The size of the fight in her slim frame is bigger than the biggest stars,” says a former work associate who did not wish to be named. “And that can be a double-edged sword in this industry where women, no matter how much they get paid, and how good they are at their work, are expected to kowtow to the male stars.”

The “roller coaster experience” of Quantico has come at the right time for Chopra, who now has to deal with the likes of a seemingly invincible Padukone and a resurgent Kangna Ranaut back home. A great deal of the credit for her global breakthrough goes to angel investor Anjula Acharia Bath, who had been looking for an Asian star to make significant inroads into the American entertainment industry.

“Anjula has been a very important part of my journey internationally,” Chopra said. “She was the initiator of my foray into music internationally and her role has grown since then has evolved into my international manager, leading the charge on all my projects internationally.” Chopra fondly calls Bath “Anj” and said, “She understands completely what I want to achieve for myself.”

That, as anyone who has been part of Chopra’s travelling office, will tell you, is the key – to be in sync with what the actor wants for herself. And often, it is much bigger than a headline or a photo op.

A Bollywood star in Hollywood

At the moment, Chopra is straddling the worlds of Hindi cinema and American television rather well (she heaps praises on her team in the US and India that work seamlessly together). This means shuttling between continents, time zones and world views and remaining a formidable presence in India even though she is physically in the US.

Chopra’s story is different from that of Frieda Pinto, the other Indian actor to have recently built a career for herself in Hollywood. Pinto works mainly in international productions, while Chopra has debunked the theory that a bonafide Bollywood star cannot fit into American show business. Casting directors and agencies working on big-ticket American productions insist that producers look for actors who fit the script, rather than stars who come with baggage. Even Anil Kapoor has played mostly himself in both his Hollywood outings, Slumdog Millionaire and Mission: Impossible Ghost Protocol.

Chopra, who faced racial bullying as a teenager during the years she spent in the US in the 1980s, says she did not have to change any bit of herself in order to fit in. “I am what I am and I have never seen the need to change myself to suit anyone,” she said. “I’m fortunate enough to have worked with people whether in music and now in TV in the US who respected who I was and what I’ve achieved and have treated me in that manner. As for fitting in… I am a professional first and foremost… I take what I do very seriously.”

The perks of being an Indian celebrity are not valid on the studio floor, she added. “No matter where I’m working, I leave all the bells and whistles that come with being a celebrity outside the door,” she said. “When I’m on set, on stage or in a recording studio… work is worship… nothing else matters. Wherever I walk the bells and whistles follow. It’s just how it’s always been.”

For the first few weeks after Quantico first aired, all people would talk about were her plump lips. “What can I say…. I’m a little amused and flattered!” Chopra said. “I seem to be competing with my own lips and hair for attention in the US!”

The actress, who has homes in Mumbai and Los Angeles and works sometimes up to 16 hours a day, confesses to being lax about her health. “In my case it’s always been a case of ‘cure instead of prevention’, which basically means that I work till I drop,” she said. “I’ve always been like that… I take my health for granted unfortunately and most often than not I work myself to the point of exhaustion. For me, sleep is my biggest ally and cure for ailments… a few hours of good sleep and I’m raring to go. At some point…hopefully soon, I hope to change this and start taking care of myself.”

In India, Chopra has not announced any new movie after Bajirao Mastani, in which she co-stars with Ranveer Singh and Padukone. But there are some big announcements in the offing, both in terms of films and endorsements. For the time being, it is all about jet-setting between commitments and continents. “I go where my work takes me,” Chopra said to the tinkling of bells and whistles.


While shooting for Bajirao Mastani, Priyanka Chopra did something really special for her co-star Deepika Padukone. When she ordered some dance gear from the US for herself, she ordered another one for Deepika too. Sharing a good rapport with co-stars is not new to Priyanka, who has always said good things about working with Anushka Sharma in Dil Dhadakne Do (2015) and Kangana Ranaut in Fashion (2008). So how is she able to maintain friendships with her contemporaries? Says the Quantico star, “I have always competed with myself; I always think of doing better than I did in my previous film. I have set my own standards for myself to beat.

And so I can be friends with most of my colleagues I work with. If my career was not going well, maybe then I would have felt insecure or competitive.” Secure about her own indisputable talent, Priyanka insists, “No one can stop talent.”


The actor talks about Bajirao Mastani, his aim of becoming a complete entertainer, and his love for his mustache
Ranveer Singh as Bajirao and Deepika Padukone as Mastani…we can’t wait till Friday for Bajirao Mastani to release. And Ranveer is in awe of his two leading ladies, Deepika and Priyanka Chopra, who plays Kashibai, Bajirao wife.
“What I want to learn from them is how to multitask,” he says, adding, “They are both doing various projects, Priyanka is into singing, her Hollywood serial and then she comes back and shoots for Bajirao Mastani. It’s the same with Deepika. They are busy shooting and then they are doing their endorsements and they come back and become their characters Kashibai and Mastani. I can’t do that. I am into the character completely and take time to come out of it. I wish I could multitask like Priyanka and Deepika.”


Ranveer Singh and Deepika Padukone’s Bajirao Mastani is all set to hit the screens on this Friday (18th December). Sanjay Leela Bhansali recently arranged a special trial of the movie for his close friends and the cast of the movie and they have revealed that the movie will surely be a blockbuster. Read the inside details. A source who watched the movie, told Bollywood Life that Bajirao Mastani is Sanajy Leela Bhansali’s best work till date. Right from the direction to costumes to sets everything is spectacular.
– The most remarkable scenes in Bajirao Mastani are Bajirao’s coronation, where he sits on the throne for the first time and the battle scene, which is shot on a very grand scale.

-The most beautiful and melodious song in the movie is Albela Sajan.

-This is Priyanka Chopra’s one of the best performances. She plays a very strong and important role in the movie. The scenes in which she is speaking in Marathi will surely make you fall in love with her.

-You will forget Ram Leela after watching Ranveer Singh and Deepika Padukone’s chemistry in Bajirao Mastani. They have beautifully portrayed the true love of Bajirao and Mastani on-screen.

-The visuals and CGI work is worth praising in Bajirao Mastani.

-Anju Modi has done a great job in designing the outfits of Ranveer Singh, Deepika Padukone and Priyanka Chopra. According to reports, everyone hugged Ranveer Singh, when Bajirao Mastani‘s screening was over. The actor was in tears after hearing the positive feedback from his friends.

So what are you waiting for? Book your tickets right now!


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