I can’t be hypnotising a snake!: Priyanka

Priyanka Chopra is dead against the way the west stereotypes Indian actors; says she always wanted something that takes her seriously as an actor
  • Q. When was the last time you had your eight hours of beauty sleep? : I really don’t know actually. The last two weeks were brutal because I had to go to New York for a day, come back to shoot three days of Bajirao, and then again go to LA for a day, come back to Mumbai and promote Dil Dhadakne Do.
  • Q. You treat the US like a day trip: Log Lonavala jaatein hain, main Los Angeles jaati hoon. That’s the joke everyone tells me.
  • Q. After the fabulous reactions to the trailer of Quantico, are you considering movie offers in Hollywood?: I have always had movie offers from there but I have a problem with the roles being so stereotyped. I don’t want to play the exotic princess who travels on elephants. Boys are either nerds or they go to college, but don’t talk to girls. Or we are terrorists. It’s always in a box. I faced a lot of racism in the US during my school days, the reason why I came back to India when I was 17. They used to call me ‘brownie’; there was a group of girls that was really mean to me. I have always wanted to fight it out there and wanted to tell them that they cannot put us in a box. India has so much talent and potential in creative arts. I told ABC that I wanted to do something that is ethnically ambiguous — my Indianness should have nothing to do with it. I shouldn’t be suddenly wearing teeka or hypnotising a snake. I must give credit to them for giving me a show that takes me seriously as an actor. I wasn’t stereotyped for the way I look. 
  • Q. Nobody expected that you would be the face of the show: I don’t like to go around talking about my work. I know people were not expecting it. Most of them thought it would be like one role somewhere, which would be important of course but not the face of the show. And now they are all coming and telling me that they have never seen an Indian actor showcased like this in the West. 
  • Q. So the principle stays the same way for anything you take up in Hollywood? Yes. If I do something it has to be a part that takes me seriously as an actor, otherwise I am not interested. I am doing such amazing roles in India, I have no need or desire to do anything anywhere else just for the sake of it.
  • Q. You made exceptions to sing for Mary Kom and now in Dil Dhadakne Do. Earlier you were under a contract that didn’t allow you to sing here, right? The contract was only in the beginning for first 2-3 years, till we established the fact that I was a recording artist. So whenever my director wants me to sing, I will sing. Ab toh band khul gaya hai. [Laughs] 
  • Q. A couple of years ago, when Zanjeer did not work and neither did your item song Babli Badmaash, people had started to write you off. These phases have come many times in your career and you have fought them:
  • The way I see it, failure is seasonal in the movie business. When you walk the unknown path, its dark and you stumble sometimes. You get up, brush yourself and set off again. Stumbling should never be taken as a fall.
  • Q. But you were running out of good choices: No, I made wrong choices. I was never running out of good choices. I had amazing choices and I am very instinctive with my films. I am not trained to do the right thing because I don’t come from a film background and I never had anybody to give me directions. I made choices; some right, some wrong. I also choose tedi cheezein (twisted stuff) naa. If I played it safe, it would have been easier for me. But I like to do an Aitraaz, a Saat Khoon Maaf, a Kaminey, a Barfi and a Mary Kom. I want to do all these tedi cheezein. [laughs]
  • Q. Was Mary Kom the game-changer, for you, which also touched Rs 100 crores? : Yes, it was the first for me, and a female actress to single-handedly reach there.
  • Q. Heroines are now drawing the audience to multiplexes. Do you feel the disparity in the remuneration between actors and actresses should stop now? It won’t happen, not right now. Equality on so many levels is something we all fight for globally, not just in India. Even in business, there is a huge difference in the salaries of a female and a male CEO. In Hollywood too, the pay scale of males and females differ drastically. For eons girls have been brought up as a second preference. That will exist for a while. When I started in movies, a producer said to me that if I didn’t adjust my dates or my fees, they’d go ahead with a new face. So we girls are interchangeable in films. That really affected me. So when I did films at that time, say like a Fashion, subconsciously I really wanted to be relevant. Hard work and destiny can never be denied.
  • Q. Coming to Dil Dhadakne Do, tell us what was it like when your phone rang for this role? I have done films with Excel Entertainment and they are my friends. So when Ritesh called me and said Zoya wants to narrate a script, I was like, sure. I really like her, but honestly I haven’t seen any of her work. She always taunts me about signing her film without having seen her work. I tell her she has only three films, and I am a late bloomer when it comes to watching films. I just watched NH10. But I loved the story of DDD. You can tell how a director is going to make a film from the way they narrate. What’s amazing about her is that she is original. She doesn’t follow a trend, she is fearless. It’s a difficult thing to always go against the wind. Source: The Asian Age, Image: https://flickr.com