The Hindi film industry and Priyanka Chopra’s fans are now more than familiar with her jet-setting ways and super-packed schedule. The actor is currently working on two international projects. Alongside, she is also managing her acting career in India. But that’s not it.
Recently, she was awarded the Padma Shri, and she also made it to the cover of a popular American magazine for a special issue that featured the world’s 100 most influential people. “A few moments in your life take your breath away, and this honour is one of them. I am completely overwhelmed,” Priyanka had told HT Café after the issue hit the stands. Here, the “perennially tired” star tells us more.
Should we call you Padma Shri Priyanka Chopra from now on?
That’s going to be my title (laughs). I hope to keep doing good work to [continue to] be worthy of the Padma Shri. I think it’s a huge encouragement; it is exactly what you want, as an actor. I hope to just continue working, that’s it.
You have come a long way, from living in Bareilly (Uttar Pradesh) to bagging the Miss World title, and then entering Bollywood.
I am grateful for the work I get to do, regardless of how much hard work I put into it. I am glad that I have the ability to keep up with it. I want to continue doing it for as long as I can.
Has the Padma Shri put any pressure on you to become more responsible?
I have always been a responsible person. I was raised like that. So, I have never felt , “Oh, ab toh responsible hona padega (oh, now I better be responsible).” I think that’s a bit pretentious, and I was never like that. People need to be who they are. You should be your true self, and your art has to reflect that. You have to be lauded or awarded for who you are, and not for who you are trying to be.
You’re making waves internationally. But do you ever fear losing ground back in India?
I hope I don’t. I hope I have created enough space [for myself in Bollywood]. Even right now, I have some really amazing film offers. I don’t prioritise my movies on the basis of where they are made. It’s not about the country, I am just giving importance to content. Whether it’s my TV series or my Hollywood film, they both are going to be watched in India, too, as much as they will be watched in any other country.
How do you manage to travel so much, and still handle all your professional commitments?
If you want anything in life, you have to make a choice. People think I am perennially tired, and I want to scream at them sometimes (laughs). But that’s a natural emotion, I guess. What happens is that your entire life gets scheduled to a T. So, many times, you don’t even have a moment to yourself. Then I always tell myself that I am doing something that’s bigger than me. It’s not just about me; so many other people are also involved in doing what I am doing. I can’t give excuses. So, I power through the exhaustion, the jet lag, and everything else, to just keep going on.
Earlier, you had spoken about how Indian actors tend to get stereotyped in foreign industries. Now, with you and Deepika Padukone doing films in Hollywood, do you think things are changing?
I don’t know whether things are changing for everyone or not, but I know that what I am doing is very important for me. From the beginning, I was clear that I didn’t want to just play a pretty, exotic Indian princess or any part like that. I wanted my role to mean something. In fact, when I was approached for my American TV show, I told the makers that there are certain things I have in mind, and I don’t want to compromise on those. I told them that I wanted to play a part for its merit; it should have nothing to do with my ethnicity. I am an actor first, and the world needs to look at artistes like that.
Did you maintain the same rule with your Hollywood film too?
Yes, even in Baywatch, my role is quite unconventional. I am playing the antagonist in it, and it’s great fun. So, my path has always been very different, and I have walked it differently. I hope things are changing. I am doing my bit, and I am so glad that actors like Anil Kapoor, Irrfan Khan and Nimrat Kaur have paved the way for people like me to come and stand my ground, and say, “This is how I want to be treated.”
No bikini for PC
I am not playing a lifeguard in my Hollywood film. So, no, I will not be seen in the iconic red swimsuit.
In touch with Deepika
I spoke to her after the release of Bajirao Mastani, but not since then.
Back in India
I will be back in India in about a month. I will be able to finish the shoot of my show and my film in approximately that time frame.