When Priyanka Chopra entered Bollywood, she was told that girls are ‘inter-changeable’ if they can’t adjust dates. The actor has come a long way since then, and believes that questioning the relevance of women rather than taking up just any role helped her in her journey.
The 32-year-old, who played a pugilist in the biopic Mary Kom last year, is glad that Bollywood has come of age, and there are takers for women-centric films.
In conversation with Hindustan Times, Priyanka gets talking about impactful roles and juggling work cultures, as she plays the lead in an American TV thriller and more.
You recently tweeted that you were very happy that women-centric films are doing well.
I was moved for many reasons coming out of my own experience. Producers in general, and a producer in specific, had told me, ‘If they can’t adjust dates, then girls are inter-changeable. If we don’t find a particular one, we will find another one; we will launch a new girl or will bring in a model’. I was thrown out of films because some other girl was recommended by a star. I was against that, and questioned the relevance of women. I started making different film choices. Be it Fashion (2008) or Barfi! (2012), I tried doing films that had meaningful roles for girls. I’ll do less work, but I’m not expendable just because I am a woman. I want to do at least one impactful role each year.
How was the experience of working with a female director, Zoya Akhtar in Dil Dhadakne Do?
Zoya is one of the finest filmmakers in the country and that has nothing to do with her gender. What’s great about her being a female director is that I can talk to her freely as a girl. I really admire her. She is fearless. It’s very difficult for fearless women to survive in the world.
Watch: Dil Dhadakne Do trailer
You’ve got great response for your American thriller TV series Quantico, wherein you’re in a totally different avatar.
I try to be different in all my films so people think, ‘ye toh koi aur hi hai’. I’m playing a US citizen in Quantico. The difference is in the character itself.
Watch: Priyanka Chopra in Quantico trailer
Was it tough, breaking in the international market?
It was tough to kill the stereotype. I was offered a lot of films in the US, but they were all in a box that Indian people are seen in – exotic beauties or snake-charming hypnotists — which didn’t appeal to me.
Have you ever experienced such stereotypes?
Yes, lot of them. When my song was played at National Football League (NFL), I got comments such as, ‘who’s this Arab terrorist?’ and ‘how can she be on NFL, she’s not white’. I was so offended. I hope the show will help break stereotypes.
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