/ View From The Top

View From The Top

Jul 22, 2013

Bollywood's sizzling screen goddess, Priyanka Chopra chats about her roles, breaking records and why she just can't stop Tweeting

Bollywood's hottest starlet, Priyanka Chopra, had a relaxed chit-chat with ANOKHI. She has movies like Don and Don 2 and many challenging roles coming up, especially following the massive 2009 hit Kaminey. She hit the Guinness Book of World Records as the first actress in the world to play 12 roles in What's Your Raashee?, made by renowned filmmaker Ashutosh Gowarikar. The film premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2009.

She won Miss World in 2000 and was part of the jury in 2009 in South Africa. She has a bigger set of followers on Twitter than most of her Bollywood counterparts and is of Punjabi descent. Raised in Massachusetts and Iowa, she has acted in 35 movies to date. She is known for her singing, from her days of the Opus Honour Choir in Iowa. She takes this talent from her father, an Army surgeon, who also sang on stages in India. She is well remembered for her roles in Krrish with Hrithik Roshan, her award-winning role in Madhur Bhandarkar's Fashion and the offbeat comedy Dostana with Abhishek Bachchan and John Abraham.

You started your cinema career by working in a Tamil film (Thamizhan), with one of the top heroes in the South, Vijay. Would you work in regional cinema again?
I would love to work in the South again, it's just that I haven't had an offer that has excited me so far and my career in Hindi FIlms has been so time-consuming. I love cinema-it doesn't matter what language it is, it could be Tamil, English, Punjabi. You have to learn the languages-in Kaminey, I had to speak Marathi, a language I don't know at all. I learn the dialect and the body language of the people to deliver the dialogue.

The transition from your being a tomboy in the USA to being Miss World to being one of Bollywood's hottest-how does this journey feel, in retrospect? Was it in your wildest dreams?
I never knew acting was even a profession when I was in school (laughs). When you have a very normal upbringing, you think of other professions like medicine, management, engineering. You don't really think of cinema in that way. This just came out of the blue for me. In retrospect, I am grateful to have reached where I am in such a short span of time and for the type of filmmakers and movies I've had, without having any kind of help and being a complete outsider in the industry. I feel really really blessed.

Your family members are mainly academics of sorts-how do they all deal with your immense success as an actress, something that is very different to the family as a whole?
They're very proud of me, of course. My parents have supported me throughout and they moved with me when I moved to Bombay, as I was so young when I began. I was just 17 when I won Miss World and my dad wouldn't let me be alone. Even now, my parents are always with me and always support me. I was brought up as a very independent-thinking person, so when I decided that I wanted to pursue this line, they were with me all the way.

Special appearances-you've made quite a few in movies-how do you choose these and do they give you a break from long projects?
These are usually because of relationships that you share with filmmakers and they ask you to do a favour or to do a friendly appearance because they need that little bit. I have only done four so far and all were with people I was very comfortable with.

How do you deal with films of yours that you've put blood, sweat and tears into, that have gone on to fail at the box office?
It breaks your heart because you put so much effort into the film. Six months of your life goes into the movie. My heart gets broken-it's like a break-up. Like what happens when you break up with a boyfriend-you cry, you hang out with all your friends and they make you feel better and you move on, I guess. I can't take too much time to mourn for a film that hasn't done well, as I am usually already onto something else which needs my attention.

You have a massive Twitter fan following, even more than some of your fellow actors in Bollywood- how do you manage to maintain your stream what is it like to interact directly with fans?
For me it's a way of touching base with reality, almost. That's how I started doing it and I was one of the first people to get on Twitter. That's what excited me about it-you're in touch with the people who made you and they have a right to say and tell you anything and it's my direct contact with fans, without the medium of the media or anybody else. They get to know exactly who I am. Whenever I get a decent internet connection, I get on and Tweet.

You will be an animation in Ali Baba—how were you picked for the role and how different is it from your work on the silver screen?
Ali Baba is an evergreen story. I grew up with it and when I heard they were making the movie, I was very excited and immediately said yes.

Kaminey and Raashee saw you in fabulous roles, however, many roles for the ladies in Indian cinema seem to be quite small, in comparison to the actors-what are your thoughts on this aspect?
I think the times are changing now and if actresses are around who can pull off meaty characters, films get written for you. By God's grace, I've had some amazing film-makers who have approached me with important heavy parts-films like Kaminey and the current films I'm working on, which are amazing roles.

In Saat Khoon Maaf you have a rather negative role, where you play a woman who kills seven husbands-did you do any special preparation to play the role?

It's a dark comedy by Vishal Bhardwaj. He's a genius and I think every actor in Indian cinema should at least work with him once in his or her career. He's somebody who has such an amazing perspective on cinema and the scenes he shoots. It's so liberating to work with such a director. I wouldn't call it a negative role as such. It's a wonderful character and story-a life journey of a girl and her seven husbands. It's based on a Ruskin Bond book, and I am enjoying the shoot tremendously.

Tell us about Anjaana Anjaani, the romantic genre as a whole, and the shoots in America.
It's a great part for me. We shot in New York, San Francisco and Vegas. It is a beautiful movie, a romantic love story. I go to America very often, as I have a lot of family there and I film there a lot, so I'm there at least once a year.



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