The desi name in Hollywood

Priyanka Chopra is back home after three years. But not for long. She has projects with big US names lined up

Like it or not, Priyanka Chopra is India’s most prominent face in Hollywood.

She is returning to India after a break, and her kitty seems to have more international projects than Indian. The Indian projects include the just-released ‘The Sky is Pink’ and the upcoming ambitious adaptation of Aravind Adiga’s Booker winner ‘The White Tiger’.

Showtime catches up with the star:

How come you chose ‘The Sky is Pink’ as your comeback movie?

I hadn’t done a Hindi movie in three years and I was really looking for an immersive experience to come back. ‘The Sky Is Pink’ came to me when I was in New York. I read the script and couldn’t put it down. It made me think about what it is like for caretakers — in many ways they are unsung heroes. It reminded me of when my dad was unwell, what my mom went through caring for him, and what we went through as a family.

The Chaudhary family’s relationship with life and death was so visceral in the script — the deterioration of someone you love and being fully helpless about it, what that does to a marriage, to a family, to a person.

The real-life Aditi is a ferociously protective mother and I thought if I was ever in a situation like this, that’s the kind of mom I would want to be. That’s when I knew I wanted to do this film.

Director Shonali Bose said you were inconsolable in one shot...

In that particular scene, Aisha Chaudhary (Zaira Wasim) decides not to go in for surgery to live longer because she doesn’t want to be bed-ridden for the rest of her life.
My character Aditi agrees with the decision, but as Aisha’s mother during the scene, I kept thinking about what it must be like to lose a child. So, I just held Shonali and kept saying I was sorry Aditi had to go through this, and I couldn’t stop crying.

You can empathise with someone’s loss, but I don’t think you can really understand the feeling unless you have a child of your own. As a director’s actor, I spoke a lot to Shonali. I also spent some time with Aditi Chaudhary in London.

What is your equation with Farhan Akhtar like?

I used to be scared of Farhan — I’ve always admired him, his work and his sensibility as a director. I remember when I got the call for ‘Don’, I was literally doing cartwheels around my room because I would get to work with this amazing team. It is his excellence that I admire the most and he really has the best ‘pun’ jokes.

What’s next for you?

I have just wrapped up a kiddie superhero movie with director Robert Rodriguez. It also has Pedro Pascal, Christian Slater and a bunch of other actors, including 11 kids.
There is also the adaptation of the book ‘The White Tiger’ and a romcom with Mindy Kaling, inspired by my own wedding, which I’m producing. I am a huge fan of hers and when I met her, we started talking about my wedding and her relationship with India. The story came out from there.

It’s a buddy comedy between two girls who travel from the US to India for an enormous wedding. We are still writing the script for that one, though. I’m also in talks for an American TV show but can’t divulge details. I am producing two other TV shows in the US but won’t be acting in them.

Where did you learn singing from?

I wasn’t formally trained in singing, as such. My father was the greatest influence for me when it comes to music and singing.

What kind of music do you like?

I love hiphop and R&B music — it was all I listened to as a teen growing up in the US. Now my choice of music depends on my mood, I think my team can guess my mood based on the music I’m listening to. You could enter my vanity and I could be listening to anything from old Hindi songs to rap to the latest Hindi songs.

What is that one habit of yours on film sets that you can’t get out of?
I can’t stop eating on the sets. I think I eat during every single break.eat during every single break.

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