Priyanka Chopra has proved to be one of India’s best exports to the world entertainment industry, with super glam appearances at global red carpets (including the Oscars and the Golden Globes), a hit TV show, Quantico and a big-ticket Hollywood debut venture, Baywatch, coming up. But even though she tries to balance work on multiple fronts, she refuses to complain. “I don’t understand what people do during their holidays,” says the actor, as she talks about her life and career.
Your outing at the Golden Globes made headlines again…
Thanks for the compliment! I had a good time connecting with friends, meeting new people, and basically just enjoying the evening for what it was — a celebration of the arts and artistes.
You were present when Meryl Streep delivered her speech...
We all know and agree that Meryl Streep is a legend. What I found most powerful from that evening was the immense respect she gets. It’s universal. She is undeniable, but she’s so gracious. Her speech was heartfelt, relevant and delivered in a way that only she could do it. It was forceful yet elegant. Meeting her was wonderful. She is extremely down to earth and has a great sense of humour.
Do you feel settled in the US?
Abhi toh life mein sabse zyada unsettled hoon main (I have never been so unsettled as I am right now). I never know where I am at any given time. I am at a point in my career when I will go wherever my work takes me. So, I am doing a film and my production here [in India], and a show and a film in the West.
How was your break in Mumbai?
I loved it. When I got out of the airport and was driving back home, I rolled down the windows. Whatever would annoy me earlier, like the sounds of the traffic, felt nice. Mumbai’s smell felt like a fragrance to me. It shows how much I missed home.
With so much success and fame, how powerful do you feel?
I am a normal girl. Remember how it felt when you topped your class? You party and celebrate, but then start with studying for the next year. I feel the same way, as my life is like that. So, I want to top the exams, and then I wait to see what happens next. I’m not a megalomaniac who sits on a throne thinking I’ve conquered the world. I am always like, ‘What next?’ Simple things like spending time with my family, topping polls, being on the magazine covers — make me happy (laughs). Bas itna sa khwab hain (that’s my little dream).
You have achieved a lot in your life. Has it sunk in yet?
My team and friends tell me I don’t realise it. Maybe I don’t. Maybe I am moving so fast that I don’t have time to think about it. But I have said I’ve never had the time to ponder over what happened because I am busy moving forward, right from my first interview after the Miss World title, or after Fashion (2008) or Mary Kom (2014). I haven’t sat down to think about that [working in the West]. Maybe, sochna padega iske bare mein (I’ll have to think about it).
Watch Priyanka Chopra bags her 2nd People’s Choice Award for Quantico
You had apparently said that you don’t need a guy for anything except for children…
No, I never said that. I said, ‘You shouldn’t need a man. Instead, you should want a man’. A woman shouldn’t be with a guy because she depends on him. I was asked about relationships, and I said that one thing I would definitely want to do is to have kids. Whenever it has to happen, it will. I always wanted that; I love children. Your reason to be with a guy shouldn’t be, ‘Oh, I need him’. I said that I shouldn’t need a guy to be in a relationship, but one should want to be with somebody. That’s when it’s a healthy relationship.
Talking about kids, is marriage on your mind?
No, because there’s no guy worthwhile around. You only think of marriage if the guy is worth it.
So, you haven’t found the right guy yet…
When someone blows my mind — and I am not saying that I have not met people along the way — but I am very personal about my personal life. So, it’s not like I haven’t been in a relationship, but there’s nothing that has happened in my life that makes me want to… I guess that hasn’t happened, or I am not ready. I know I am someone who truly believes in the institution as well as love and children. No one has blown my mind yet. I guess guys have to pull up their socks (laughs).
Are things changing for Indian actors in the West?
There is a curiosity in the West now [about Indian actors] after seeing Anil (Kapoor), Irrfan (Khan) and me. They are like, ‘Oh, Indian actors can also be in the mainstream’. They don’t just have to be a niche character or part of a niche film. I hope I can open the door even more with the work I am doing. Remember the phase when Latin actors such as Jennifer Lopez, Salma Hayek or Enrique Iglesias made a splash in the global entertainment space? Why can’t we do that?
Do you miss working in Hindi films?
Abhi toh kiya hai (I just did them). It’s only been a year since Bajirao Mastani (2015) and Jai Gangaajal (2016) released. But I miss acting in ‘Hindi’ films more than speaking the language. I really miss dancing on stage. Recently, I had a dance party on Diwali in my (US) house with Bollywood music, and all my American friends. I missed dancing on Hindi songs so much that bhadaas nikali humne dance karke (took out my frustration by dancing; laughs).
What’s the code to crack Hollywood?
There is no code to crack entertainment. The only ‘code’ is: the X-Factor. That is why the biggest stars become what they have, and no one can explain why. All of us can bring up our top five actors and say, ‘Oh, he isn’t that good looking or he doesn’t know acting or dancing’, but the fact is they are stars. Why do people like to watch them? If there was a code, many would have done the same and several would do it after me too.
You must be really excited about your Hollywood debut…
To me, all my films are as important as any of my Hindi film would be. So, I am very excited about Baywatch and playing an antagonist in it. What I am excited about is that I am playing a negative part in my first Hollywood film, which was originally written for a man. I think that’s very cool and different too. I am curious to see how people react seeing me play a negative role.
Lastly, the million dollar question is: will you be wearing the iconic red swimsuit in Baywatch?
No, I won’t be! I am the villain, not a lifeguard. I don’t want to make their lives easy. They don’t fit into the scheme of things of Victoria (her character’s name). So, I wear very expensive couture, because my character is a billionaire bombshell b***h (laughs).