Monday, August 23, 2021

Priyanka Chopra from Bollywood to Hollywood

North Americans might be familiar with Priyanka for "Quantico" and a few movies, but there is much more to her.   Following her book gave me more understanding of this very rounded woman.  Time put her on a cover and declared her one of the "100 most influential people, while Forbes named as one of t"he Most Powerful Women".

She is the daughter of two military doctors and was moved around quite a bit, partly to military bases, but also with relatives, including three years as teenager in the U.S.  She had thoughts to becoming an aeronautical engineer, but got sidetracked as a model and really turned around when her younger brother trying to get his old room back suggested her for Miss India World contest which led to the Miss World contest in London, England.  Surprised to learn there is betting on the Miss World and not surprised that at first she had long odds, but they crept up as she was seen and heard more.

Bollywood is patriarchal and sexist.  Her beauty title gave her name recognition, but still directors felt women were interchangeable and consequently didn't deserve as much money as the male leads.  A nameless director suggested she needed a "boob job".  Another aspect of appearance is skin color and many in Bollywood have endorsed skin lighteners including Priyanka who explained she used them at a time of insecurity (some people had said she was "dusky") and then was happy to get paid for endorsing them.  However as her personal confidence grew she looks upon them as something to be discouraged and has distanced herself from them.

A chance for an American music career sidelined her for awhile, but then uncovered new opportunities.  She had been spotted lip synching to Sunidhi Chauhan (one of my very favorite singers) and later an segment was found where she actually did sing quite capably.  One of her music clips was used for a  pre NFL game, but was met with strong racist attacks.  After many inter continental trips back and forth she decided to shelve the idea.  The many events she attended in her efforts had brought her into contact with television people.  She has occasionally been used as a playback singer.   I bought one of her tunes in Marathi language used for a film she produced.

Below are some of the films she has appeared in, but she has done quite a few more.  Her film career started in 2001 with a short film just after being crowned as Miss World.  Starting as a novice she gradually learned to always be improving.  She had to learn dancing, martial arts, riding and gain more familiarity with other languages.  Her advice to actors is to listen carefully before delivering their lines.  When reacting to someone else it is important to convey the multiple emotions one might feel under the circumstances.

Her first feature film, "Thamizhan" (2002) was in the Tamil language which she was not fluent in.  but she was coached to speak phoenetically.  A common problem in India with dozens of languages that established actors find opens up opportuntiies.  Sometimes words are dubbed and other times they are able to speak phoenetically.  Priyanka was paired with popular Tamil star, Vijay.

"Bluffmaster" (2005) was  an early film with Abhishek Bachchan and was where she lip synched the song that got international attention.

"Krrish" (2006) was with Hrithik Roshan and was a bit of a science fiction movie.

"Don" (2006) and "Don 2" (2011) were played against my favorite actor, Shah Rukh Khan where she played a police officer in pursuit of the very slippery international criminal.  They played together in another movie in between "Ra. One" (2011).   For more on the very popular Shah Rukh Khan:

"Fashion" (2008) was a woman centric role about the glamorous and shady world of fashion.  Also starred Kangana Ranaut with the two of them winning lots of awards.  More on Kangana, another actress who is used a lot in women centric roles:

 "Dostana" (2008) was filmed in Florida and co starred Abhishek Bachchan and John Abraham pretending to be gay to get preferred accommodation.  They both fall in love with Priyanka who is especially sexy.  A song that has come to be associated with Priyanka is " Desi Girl" sung later by Nick Jonas to good effect.

"Kaminey" (2009) was actually a minor role that Priyanka sought as she liked it.  The star was Shahid Kapoor.

In "Agneepath" (2012) this time she played the sister of leading man Hrithik Roshan.  Hrithik helped when Priyanka's father need some international treatment for a critical illness. 

"Barfi" (2012) was another challenging role as an autistic woman in a romance comedy and she get the buy played by Ranbir Kapoor.  Another set of awards.

"Mary Kom" (2014) was still another challenging movie, not only for playing a real life champion boxer, but also because her father died during the preparation phase.  Physically demanding she had to develop her body to fit the part.  More awards.



"Dil Dhadakne Do" (2015) was a sort of family romance written and directed by Zoya Akhtar and included her brother Farhan Akhtar.  For more on Farhan who is one of the most accomplished film makers:

"Quantico" represented a big breakthrough for the American market as she was the first born Indian to lead a tv show.  She appeared in 57 episodes from 2015 to 2018) filmed in Montreal.   A sex scene from "Quantico" which I watched a trailer on tv grabbed a lot of attention.   Priyanka had played sexually active women in some films and didn't expect the criticism for this particular episode.  As she points out as with her Bollywood films sex was suggestive rather than explicit.   So far I have not watched a single episode.  She commented that at various times although very fluent in English she had been asked to change her accent back and forth between British and American.

She appeared in a short film with her popular cousin, Parineeti Chopra that traded on the success of "Frozen 2"  It was "Frozen 2-Priyanka Chopra Jonas and Praineeti Chopra-Promo" in Hindi.  

"The Sky is Pink" (2019) was a movie she co-produced as well as starred in., this time again with Farhan Akhtar  It was reported that her husband shed tears for one of the scenes and was unlikely to have been the only one.  A favorite of mine:




 In "The White Tiger" (2021) which she was an executive producer she played an American back in India with her husband Rajkummar Rao.  It had been based on a Booker Man prize winning book by Arvind Adiga.  Read more

There is more to tell.

Together with her mother who formed Purple Pebble Pictures she started producing regional films in India.   They produced films in Marathi, Bhojpuri, Assamese, Sikkimese-Nepali and Punjabi.  These ventures helped develop films for relatively small audiences, but in some cases enriched the Indian film industry  One very notable example was "Ventilator" (2016) in the Marathi language won national awards and was remade as "Ventilator" (2018) in the Gujarati.  It was very good and for me hit me personally.  She has also been involved producing movies for Bollywood and Hollywood.

As Miss World she went to many charitable events.  When she became a star she got involved with individuals needing charity.  One example was when visiting her parents she learned that one of their caretakers was a young girl whose parents could only afford to give her brothers high education.  She realized she had been blessed with understanding educated parents and in individual cases set up to help.  In 2011 she formed the Priyanka Foundation for Health and Education.  She was involved with UNICEF projects in India, but then was asked to be an international ambassador taking trips to Bangladesh and across Africa, and the Middle East.  She was acutely aware of female discrimination and sexual abuse. 

At age 35 she finally met the man she wanted to marry, Nick Jonas a musician 10 years younger.   Mutual friends suggested they should meet, but for quite awhile contact was very fleeting.  One early example was the 2017 Met Art Gala where by coincidence they were both wearing Ralph Lauren fashions.  For awhile contact was by Twitter and very short encounters.  By 2018 things started moving faster.  At one point he took his brothers (of the well known rock band, Jonas Brothers and in December of that year they had three day marriage celebrations that some have said were more impressive than the Royal Wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle.  The first ceremony was Christian and was administered by Nick's father, a pastor and then a Hindu ceremony.  Now they live in Los Angeles and Priyanka goes back and forth to India and elsewhere. often joined by Nick   She is now known as Priyanka Chopra Jonas.

I hope her memoir title remains true.  There is a lot of potential left.  Right now they have a few dogs, but both claim to be family oriented.  Priyanka has more to offer films than acting.

The movies seen by me are bolded.  Priyanka takes up a longer personal film list, but I felt this list covered most, admittedly not all  of the highlights.

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