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Priyanka Chopra has not forgotten to have fun in spite of her mad schedule and constant shuttling between Canada and India. Excerpts from a quick chat with PeeCee:

Q. You recently hosted a party at your Montreal home for your Quantico colleagues…
I can’t even begin to tell you how crazy it is. We are always running against time. We have shot 13 episodes in five months. That’s about nine days per episode. Now, episode 10 is being aired and we are shooting episode 12 — it is that close. So, yes, for the sake of a break, I got everyone on the sets to come home one night for a party. We got a DJ too.

Q. It must have been crazy playing diverse characters — Kashibai (in Bajirao Mastani) and Alex Parrish (in Quantico) — almost simultaneously.
It was absolute madness. I was a lost case. I felt like a schizophrenic. Thankfully, i could slip in and out because even here (Canada), the writers are amazing. And there, of course, we have Sanjay Leela Bhansali, a genius filmmaker. You know, I picked up this role because Kashibai’s character is so heartbreakingly lovely. It is nice to be part of retelling the history that people have forgotten. I am so different from what Kashibai was. So, it was kind of fun creating her… with zero make-up and light eyed lenses, because she was a Maharashtrian Brahmin and everything had to be kept natural. Sanjay sir would not even allow the use of electric curlers on my hair. It had to be curled through hand. He didn’t want to compromise on anything. We looked at old movies to get ideas. Besides, I had to wear that 11-yard saree; it was so difficult to carry it around that I begged him to make the trail smaller. And then he did make it slightly smaller. Kashibai is this naïve, child-woman character and it was nice playing her.

Q. You were also like Kashibai, a naïve, child-woman when you entered this industry.
(Laughs) That’s true. You had seen me then. I was really naïve for at least seven to eight years after I got in here. I am a little wiser now. I don’t change myself for the world anymore now. Even though I am not that naïve, I try and not allow myself to get cynical and bitter. That’s me.

Q. Well, looks like Kashibai is already a hit. We hear you were offered a R9-crore endorsement deal by an ethnic wear brand.
I won’t discuss the price point, but yes, there is a good offer. You know I have taken pride in doing such diverse roles… characters that are not the real me. I enjoy taking up characters which others might think is impossible for me to portray. I am the shyest person off screen, but when I get such roles, I change and become empowered.

Q. People have raised objections to certain ways the characters in Bajirao Mastani have been portrayed.
We are telling stories about human beings. And what these three human beings (Bajirao, Mastani and Kashibai) went through 500-plus years ago, no one knows. It is the director’s vision of what might have happened. It is so difficult to tell such stories. I tell Sanjay sir that by now he must be used to such objections. I truly admire him for his work; he’s one of the greatest cinematic voices that we have in the country. I have travelled the world, but everywhere I go I really feel proud to say I belong to Bollywood. I walk around with a strut like a peacock. We are the most prolific film industry and people everywhere are fascinated by Bollywood. It is time we give ourselves that credit.

Q. You mean we need to have a lot more self confidence?
I do. I have major self confidence because I am an actor in Bollywood first.


As the pilot episode for ABC’s counter terrorism drama Quantico begins, one of the biggest stars in Bollywood is lying in the ruins of a bomb blast.

It’s Priyanka Chopra, and she’s playing Alex Parrish, an FBI trainee falsely accused of setting off the explosion. She’s also making history as the first South Asian woman to play the lead in a network TV drama.

“The bomber knew exactly what they were doing,” Chopra says as Parrish in a later episode. “They framed the brown girl.”

But the story of how Chopra was able to make network television history starts with Anjula Acharia-Bath. She’s a venture capitalist who built a business on the side melding South Asian and U.S. pop culture.

And by bringing one of east Indian cinema’s biggest stars to American TV, Acharia-Bath had one goal.

“I wanted to change the world with this,” she says. “I wanted people to see my people in a way that represented me.”

Acharia-Bath’s drive to shatter stereotypes began in childhood. Raised the daughter of east Indian immigrants in a London suburb, she discovered an awful thing happened every time British TV showed stereotypical east Indian characters.

“I grew up in a very racist neighborhood in England, there was zero diversity…we were the only South Asian family for miles,” she said. “Literally, if there was something on TV one night, the next day…kids would poke fun at me and they would (say), ‘I saw your people on TV, this is what you do, this is how you are’…If there was something on TV, the next day I wouldn’t want to go to school. I would pretend to be sick.”

That experience stuck with her. So many years later, Acharia-Bath developed a sideline company mashing up South Asian and U.S. pop culture, called DesiHits.

Working with Interscope Records co-founder Jimmy Iovine, she signed Priyanka Chopra to a record deal. They put the Bollywood star together with Miami rapper Pitbull for the single Exotic, which had lyrics in Hindi.

“That was big risk,” Acharia-Bath says. “The whole hook was in Hindi…We knew it would probably get rejected at radio…but we did it because we thought it was cool and we loved the song.”

Then came some good luck. Acharia-Bath met ABC executive Keli Lee at a dinner party. Lee had already pushed ABC to feature more diversity in its casts, so she worked up a plan with Acharia-Bath to bring Chopra to American TV.

But Chopra and Acharia-Bath insisted any TV role avoid stereotypes.

“When they would ask her to come back for a reading or say ‘Can you play up your accent?’ we’d say, ‘No,'” Acharia-Bath says. “‘We can’t. We don’t want to sound like Apu from The Simpsons.'”

Joshua Safran is creator of Quantico. He says when Chopra auditioned, he had no idea she had made nearly 50 movies – Bollywood’s equivalent to Angelina Jolie.

“When she walked in, it really was about her performance and not about her ethnicity or the fact that she would be the first (South Asian network TV drama star),” he says. “In fact, it didn’t even occur to me that she would be the first until much later.”

Chopra told the program Showbiz India that the role wasn’t originally written for an Indian woman. They tweaked the character to make Parrish half Indian after Chopra was cast.

“When I got the part, we had a whole debate about whether we should change her name make her more Indian,” Chopra said. “I didn’t want to change the character. I wanted to be able to act like Alex.”

Some people may say such moves may “whitewash” the character and keep Alex Parrish from being culturally authentic (the show also notes Parrish spent 10 years living in Mumbai). But Acharia-Bath says the character is as authentically Indian as she is.

“There are some great shows that are very culturally specific…but we really wanted a role anyone could play,” she adds. “It wasn’t about her race or color. Any woman could relate to her.”

Quantico has been picked up for a full season by ABC and earns solid ratings, leading up to its winter finale Sunday. Acharia-Bath says the show’s success proves network TV has only begun to tap the potential of non-white stars.

“South Asians make up one fifth of the world’s population,” she adds. “These shows play in the U.K., Canada, India, the Middle East…diversity pays. That’s the bottom line.”

No one knows that better than Acharia-Bath, a venture capitalist who says doing the right thing can also be the profitable thing.


With the Shiv Sena threatening to disrupt the release of Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Bajirao Mastani and the chief minister asking officials to look into the issue, the film’s star Priyanka Chopra told mid-day that the director has the right to interpret the story the way he wanted to.

On Wednesday, the Sena demanded that the makers must cut portions that allegedly distort Maratha history, saying the film portrays Bajirao Peshwa and his spouses, Kashibai and Mastani, in a manner that hurts the sentiments of the family’s descendants in particular and the Marathi people in general.

Sarnaik said the party has taken the “democratic” route before resorting to Sena-style tactics. “The CM has started the procedure and there are 9-10 days for the film’s release. We expect positive action from the government,” he told mid-day from Nagpur, where the winter session of the State Legislature is currently on.

While Bhansali could not be reached for comment till press time, Priyanka Chopra, who plays Kashibai, told mid-day the film was entirely the director’s vision and it was entirely Bhansali’s prerogative how he wanted to present a particular story.

“For me, whatever I have done is completely and absolutely going by Bhansali’s vision,” said Chopra. “The film is based on a book and the book is inspired by the life of a legend from the 1700s. It is entirely a director’s vision and prerogative about how he wants to present a particular story. And that’s what happens in a democratic country. How are we to say what Bajirao’s personality was in his personal life?”

She said the best anyone, including historians, would know of is Bajirao’s public persona. “How do we know he didn’t dance, smile or didn’t express happiness in his private life?” the actor asked. “We have to allow a director’s vision and imagination to portray what he thinks could have happened. We must just see it as nothing but the cinematic vision of an extremely prolific filmmaker.”

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WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 16 – “The Chew’s Snow Day!” – Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow! Everyone loves a snow day, spend it in the kitchen with the Chew Crew!
Special guest: Priyanka Chopra of ABC’s “Quantico”

It seems Priyanka Chopra, who is already basking in the glory of her hit American TV series ‘Quantico’, is going to have a double bonanza this Christmas! While her keenly anticipated and much touted film BAJIRAO MASTANI, also starring Ranveer Singh and Deepika Padukone is releasing on December 18, 2015, the trailer of Priyanka’s yet another biggie is set to arrive right after that.

Yes, the trailer of director Prakash Jha’s upcoming film JAI GANGAAJAL starring Priyanka Chopra in the lead will be out on December 22nd. When the first look poster of JAI GANGAAJAL featuring Priyanka Chopra had released a couple of months back, it received a positive feedback. With that it has certainly got us excited what the trailer would be like.

Priyanka is in US right now and busy with her TV show. She even attended the BAJIRAO MASTANI trailer launch event through a video conference from US. We wonder if she will come back for the trailer launch of JAI GANGAAJAL (if at all the event happens).

JAI GANGAAJAL showcases the dusty heartland of Central India with protagonist Abha Mathur portrayed by Priyanka Chopra as she examines again the society-police relationship to tell a new story.

Produced by Prakash Jha Productions and Play Entertainment, the film is slated to release on March 4, 2016.


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