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After making an action-packed debut in the international small screen space with “Quantico”, Indian actress Priyanka Chopra has earned one more admirer in Shiri Appleby. The American actress says she has heard “nice things” about the former Miss World, and wants to work with Bollywood’s ‘desi girl’.

“I would love to work with Priyanka Chopra. One of the actresses on ‘UnREAL’, Johanna Braddy, is on ‘Quantico’ and says the nicest things about her. So, I think I would enjoy the experience of working with and getting to know Priyanka,” Appleby, who essays role of a young aspiring producer in American dark comedy and drama series “UnREAL”, told IANS in an email interview.

Priyanka, who went global with her talent as a singer in 2012 with her single “In my city”, walked into the small screen fiction space of the west through the ABC action-thriller series “Quantico”, in which she plays Alex Parrish, a rookie FBI recruit with a mysterious past.

Appleby might be aware about the Indian actress, but she’s oblivious to the world of Bollywood.

“Unfortunately, I don’t know too much about Bollywood or Indian actors although I would love to learn more,” the actress said.

Appleby is all set to bring the dark truths and secrets of the ever popular reality TV show genre on the Indian small screen with her show “UnREAL”. The show is premiering in India on Saturday on Star World and Star World HD.

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Pardon us, but we’re just slightly crushing on Priyanka Chopra. We’ve been smitten all of 2015, especially when she landed on ABC as the no-nonsense, totally brilliant FBI recruit Alex Parrish on Quantico. She is the epitome of #goals: stunning and smart, badass enough to play kickass Alex, but feminine enough to play a regal Indian queen in Bollywood films. And she wants all women to win, and own it.

Priyanka’s name might be new to American households, but she is Bollywood royalty. We met with the actress at the Regency Hotel in NYC during a press run for her new film, Bajirao Mastani. Press from around the world waited their turn to speak with the beauty, while fans completely flooded the hotel with smartphones perched high to get a quick snap.

After speaking with the superstar, we fell in love just a little more. The total girl’s girl talked about the history behind Bajirao Mastani, a classic Indian love story set in the 1700s. In addition, she shared how she embraces the ambidextrous balancing of Hollywood sets with the colorful stages of Indian films. And all of the dance moves! She may be known as the “Beyoncé of India,” and her castmates call her Priyoncé, but it’s safe to say Priyanka Chopra is a star in her own right.

Check out the exchange below, and get inspired to crush your New Year’s goals with this dope woman’s insight.

Global Grind: I love that you balance two cultures, and the way that you do it is intrinsic to how multiracial kids do it, seamlessly moving within two cultures, or more at times. What’s it like balancing both worlds? What do you love about it, and what can get a little bit complicated?
Priyanka Chopra:
I think you just have to be a little unapologetic about who you are. I think first and foremost to be able to do anything well, is that you need to own it. I love doing Indian films, I’m an Indian actor first. That’s what taught me to be the professional that I am today. I’m 15 years into my career so far, I didn’t go to acting school. I started when I was 18. Every single thing that I know, when I walk onto a set on Quantico, and I know exactly what I have to do and where my mark is, and then I can knock out a scene or a monologue in 20 minutes. And it’s because my film school was one of the most prolific film industries in the world. And I’m super proud of it. I really love Indian movies, and I get withdrawal symptoms if I don’t dance for awhile [laughs].

Bollywood films usually have themes centered around love, and everyone loves a love story. So what’s the theme of this movie?
Love [laughs]. Take a guess! But no, this movie is special because it’s inspired from history. Bajirao was a real character, Kashibai was a real character, Mastani was a real character. Bajirao Mastani is a folk Indian love story. It was 500 years ago, it was in the 1700s. And they were different religions, and at that time that was a taboo. And he was already married, but she was in love. But nobody ever talks about what happened to Kashi, because a forbidden love story is so interesting. I love the fact that [director] Sanjay Leela Bhansali etched a character to question what happened to her. She wasn’t even “the other woman,” she was the woman. What did she go through when this amazing love story and Mastani happened? For me, it’s like losing control of your life and not being able to know about it. I mean, if it was Alex in the situation, she’d be like, I’m out, see ya. But she can’t, she’s queen. She has responsibilities. So playing all of that was so much fun. Because I always get to play these badass women, and Kashi’s just graceful and dignified, and gentle, and… soft. It took like a spin of my head to actually get there a little bit [laughs].

Speaking of powerful women, people often call you the Beyoncé of India.
Yeah, my cast keeps calling me Priyoncé [laughs].

Have you ever met the Beyoncé of America?
No, I haven’t. I have met Jay Z though, with Jimmy Iovine. But I’m a huge Beyoncé fan. I love her. I think she’s such a power woman. I love the way she balances her personal life and her professional life, and I think that’s what, you know, women need to be like. It’s not mutually exclusive, like they tell us. We can have both. If guys can, we can, too. Plus that she’s a beast of a performer. Put her on stage and you’re riveted. But I want to be able to have my own identity. I’ve always emulated qualities from women that I admire, but I’m selfish enough to want my own path. Good, bad, ugly, whatever, at least it’s mine.

So many women say, “Priyanka’s my girl crush!” Do you have any girl crushes, and who are the women you look to when you need a little inspiration?
Well, my mom. She’s a complete overachiever. Way to set someone up for failure [laughs]. Please, double M.D., licensed pilot. She’s a graduate in kathak, which is like a traditional form of dance, extremely difficult, takes like insane practice and dedication. She’s a major overachiever, has like three businesses, even right now. So she’s a huge inspiration for me. But besides that, I love Audrey Hepburn. I love the way she lived her life, again on her own terms. I like women who live life on their own terms. Angelina Jolie, Beyonce. I like women who are unapologetic about themselves, but yet are feminine. You don’t have to be machismo to be a feminist. I think it’s great to celebrate womanhood, but at the same time, you’re no less. Whatever you can do, I can do better [laughs].

Bajirao Mastani hits select theaters Friday, Dec. 18.

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Whether it’s a lead role, a special cameo or even an item number, Priyanka Chopra has always managed to turn heads. And she knows it. Despite being away from home for her Quantico shoots, PeeCee made some time out of her schedule to talk about her film Bajirao Mastani.

While the first few reviews have mentioned how Priyanka has stolen the show from the film’s leading pair, the actress calls Bajirao Mastani Ranveer and Deepika’s film. Here the actress talks about her inner conflicts while playing Kashibai and clashing with Shah Rukh Khan’s Dilwale

Knowing that you might walk away with the most accolades, somewhere, are you underplaying it with Bajirao Mastani?
(Laughs) No, I am not underplaying it at all. Actually, I was stuck with my commitments for Quantico and that’s why I could not be back to do much for the promotions. And honestly, it’s eventually about Bajirao and Mastani’s forbidden love story. Of course, Kashibai is a huge, integral part of the film. What happens to her forms a big chunk of the story but the film is driven by Ranveer and Deepika’s love story. I am not someone who doesn’t see that or understand it. I love Kashi’s role and I am really proud to be a part of this film but I’m not someone who will think that way and underplay. I am rather being honest.

Does screen time matter to you at all?
I can recall an incident actually. When I just joined the business, someone once told me that there are no small roles, there are only small actors. I love the parts that I do and I take immense pride in whatever work I take up because people look forward to watching us on screen and we are in an extremely privileged position. So I don’t take work for granted at all. I do it with a lot of honesty. I am not someone who competes for attention. I never needed to. I get attention anyway. (Laughs) I’m not competitive but more collaborative.

Is it also because you are more secure as an actress?
No, a film is not made by one person. Ever. We actors get the most credit because our faces are on the posters but there are 200 others who work in the making of a film. These are nameless, faceless people who the audience doesn’t get to see and know at all. We stand there and take complete credit for it and that’s very arrogant of actors to do that. But I like to collaborate together and make a great project. That’s the victory. If I start looking for personal victories and not for the film in totality, then it doesn’t make sense. If I do well but the film doesn’t, then what’s the point of working hard on it? No one is going to watch it or appreciate it. I have understood that over the years that if you collaborate, things become easier. I am very happy for the body of work I have got, the directors who chose to work with me, it’s amazing. I have been really fortunate. I would only want to be part of great films that will go down as a part of my legacy. It’s important to make sure that a film wins rather than constantly focusing in an extremely selfish way. Nobody gives a crap if you are good but the film is not good.

This is your third association with Bhansali but first as a director. Ranveer said you took time to adjust to his methods of filmmaking. Is it true?
Sanjay sir and I have an extremely amazing understanding of each other. I was very overwhelmed about the costumes, shooting for the period drama where at one point, I was shooting for Bajirao Mastani, Quantico and Gangaajal at the same time. So when I first came in, that was very overwhelming. Working with Sanjay sir was the easiest part in the film. He has such an acute understanding of human emotions and I am very instinctive as an actor. I am someone who comes to sets and uses my instincts to gauge what the character must be going through. And I have learnt it while working because nobody taught me what acting was. So I depended on myself.

Sanjay sir is exactly like that. He comes on sets, gets everything ready and explains what to do, how to do. I did not come on sets thinking how Kashi is going to be.

Bajirao Mastani is possibly one of the most physically and emotionally draining film you’ve been a part of. Will you still attempt to do another film in the same space soon?
I don’t think there will be any other film like Bajirao Mastani. It’s one of those movies that gets made once-in-a lifetime for an actor and I am fortunate to be a part of it. Secondly, I really don’t plan my films that way. As and when offers are made to me, I have to emotionally resonate with the character. And only if I think I understand her 100 per cent is when I do the film. And it can’t be something I’ve done before. I have never repeated myself because I get bored of same characters myself. Kashi for me is extremely heartbreaking. I am a 21st century modern day girl today. If my husband cheated on me, I will be out! Kashi is in the 1700s and she doesn’t have any other choice. She had to deal with it and all that is so much. It was extremely painful for her. It doesn’t happen quite often with me but I took Kashi back home. My heart ached and I will be emotional at times thinking it was such an awful position to be in. I would never play another character like that and I don’t think there will ever be another character like that written as well.

A lot has been spoken about the clash with Dilwale. You, Ranveer and Deepika share a warm relationship with Shah Rukh. Has this affected it in any manner?
Firstly, there are ample proofs which prove that if two good films come together on the same day, they can work. And I’m definitely looking forward to Dilwale. I will definitely watch it for sure. And I know that the world will also want to watch it. I think both the films will work well because both of them are good films and they are in completely different genres. Let’s just give due credit to both the filmmakers. They are extremely prolific and have a great body of work behind them. There’s no comparison at all. I think people too should go and watch both the films. After all, it’s the holidays, guys!

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You may know Priyanka Chopra from ABC’s hit show ‘Quantico,’ but she’s a movie star, too! The star opens up to HollywoodLife.com EXCLUSIVELY about her new role, including how she’s definitely not like Alex Parrish at all!

Priyanka Chopra’s saving the world on Quantico, and she’s taking over movie screens. Priyanka stars as Kashibai in the epic Bajirao Mastani, and she talked to HollywoodLife.com EXCLUSIVELY about tackling such a “heart-wrenching” role and the comparisons to Quantico’s Alex.

In Bajirao Mastani, Priyanka plays Kashibai, the heartbroken first wife of Bajirao. He falls in love with Mastani, and their romance is known for being a “forbidden love story.” For the strong-willed Priyanka, a former Miss World, playing a woman who didn’t have a voice was incredibly challenging.

“It’s so weird, it’s like playing a female character with your hands tied behind your back,” Priyanka told HollywoodLife.com. “I’m a proud feminist, I’m a modern day girl who has a voice and an opinion and she didn’t.”

“I’ve been raised to have opinion, my parents encouraged that. At that time, women weren’t allowed to have opinions, so she couldn’t say this was wrong. There’s so much power to that, too, and to find dignity within that. She’s super fragile but extremely strong and resilient,” Priyanka continued.

Priyanka’s been taking over Sunday night TV with Quantico. Her character, Alex Parrish, is one of the fiercest characters on television. Priyanka told HollywoodLife.com just how different Kashibai and Alex are.

“They’re completely the opposite. Alex, by then, would have been out,” Priyanka said. “At that time, Kashibai couldn’t be like that. She was queen. She had responsiblities as queen, and she took that job seriously. For me, it was heart-wrenching and I would take it home with me. I’ve never done a period drama. The characters I play in my Indian films are very strong-willed most of the time, very strong female characters. She’s strong in a completely different way. I’m more like the ass-kicking strong.”

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Bollywood celebrities like Akshay Kumar, Priyanka Chopra, Sonakshi Sinha and Ayushmann Khurrana among others will add star power to the forthcoming 11th edition of Renault Sony Guild Film Awards later this month. “As a member of this hard working industry, the Guild Awards is extremely auspicious to receive for any artist or film professional,” Akshay said in a statement.

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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 TV.com. 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’.”

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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!”

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‘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/Rediff.com 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.

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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!

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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.

ANALYSIS
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!

VERDICT
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: ★★★★

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