She's on a roll

In conversation

She's on a roll

Sometimes you wonder how much you know about Priyanka Chopra. She’s become somewhat of an Uncle Sam, he of the sneezing-and-giving-the-world-a-cold fame. No longer the desi girl, she is the IT girl. Priyanka sings the National Anthem, it catches on like a rage. She wears a lacy dress to an international awards function, people go ga-ga. She hints at a new film, and the world starts speculating about the star cast. Well, fame certainly does that!

Priyanka is at the zenith of her career. She has earned the Padma Shri prefix. She has managed to bag the favourite actress award in a new TV series for her path-breaking debut in the American thriller Quantico. As for her supposedly ‘smaller’ role in Bajirao Mastani, well, it’s walking away with equal if not more applause than her co-star Deepika Padukone.

Wearing multiple hats seems to be a passion with this 33-year-old actor, who is also a crooner and a producer, too. Her new show, It’s My City, in collaboration with celebrity digital network Fluence, is an original 14-part mobi-series about four girls who come together in the Mumbai metropolis and embark on a crazy journey of love and life. It premiered last week on subscription-driven video entertainment mobile App, nexGTv.

With newer platforms opening up for celebrities, especially for actors, to enhance interaction with their fans, Priyanka is making her timely debut on the App. “The cool part here is that I play myself! I’ve had a lot of fun doing this,” she says. For many young women, staying independent is not an unusual concept any longer with opportunities opening up in cities, sometimes away from their families.

Coping up with changing dynamics is a challenge. “The series mirrors the reality of the lives of Indian girls living away from their families in pursuit of their dreams. I was reminded of similar situations that I faced when I came to Mumbai and was living as a paying guest. I looked at the role more like the big sister with experience,” says the actor, adding that she was a mentor not just onscreen, but behind the scenes too. “I am involved in many aspects, but what drives this is the hugely collaborative effort between nexGTV, Fluence, Endemol Shine and my team at Purple Pebble Pictures.”

Asked if a girls-only show would click with the male audience or leave them aside, she quips, “Completely the opposite! It’s a show for everyone! I’m sure girls will relate to it and the boys can finally get some insight into how girls think and function! Trust me, they will enjoy it too.”

The coming months are going to be action-packed for her — shooting in Montreal for Quantico’s Season 2 and managing pre-release publicity for her Prakash Jha film Jai Gangaajal in which she plays the powerful butt-kicking cop Abha Mathur in India’s hinterland. She has also confirmed that talks are on for a film being made on the TV series Baywatch. Priyanka says that each of these projects is as exhilarating as the other. If not, she wouldn’t put herself in. “I only pursue the things that excite and challenge me. I will never take up any role or project that I am not completely convinced of and excited to be a part of. If I take it on, it’s a 1000 per cent commitment.”

The Padma Shri has come at an opportune moment. Priyanka’s career is soaring high. In a press statement, the actor said that she was humbled to receive the honour. “I am the daughter of the Indian Defence Services, the child of two Army officers, which makes this so much more special to me. I know that this Award would have made my father proud of me. I also feel privileged to be a part of such an illustrious list of achievers.”

With so many shades of Priyanka showing up, there seems to be no telling who the real Priyanka Chopra is. She laughs and responds, “This is the real PC. I love to pursue every opportunity that excites me and allows me to explore the full extent of my creativity,” she says, in a style that’s become synonymous with her. High on adrenaline and always raring to go.

Leave aside international, now Priyanka goes regional

Priyanka’s banner Purple Pebble Pictures will produce three regional films, one each in Marathi, Bhojpuri and Punjabi. Bam Bam Bol Raha Hai Kashi in Bhojpuri, written and
directed by Santosh Mishra, is a classic love story starring Bhojpuri superstar Nirahau and Amrapali Dubey. Shooting is underway and it will release in the summer of 2016.

The Marathi project Ventilator will be directed by Ferrari Ki Sawaari-director Rajesh Mapuskar. Ek Onkar, the Punjabi film, will be directed by Karan
Guliani. It is a coming-of-age story of a young NRI returning to find his roots. Shooting will commence next month and the film should be ready for release this November.

If you catch a new film in the theatres, chances are you will get to watch
Priyanka saluting women in uniform through her rendition of the National
Anthem. The video has been filmed by Prakash Jha Productions for their
upcoming film Jai Gangaajal.

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