By Jyothi Venkatesh
Today as she is celebrating her 41st birthday with her husband Nick Jonas and their daughter Malti, Cine Blitz and I wish her a very successful and prosperous as well as healthy birthday. Priyanka Chopra is one girl, who I can definitely claim to have met even before the entire world knew who she was, even before the girl from Bareilly ended up winning the Miss India Crown. It was at the launch of the small-time character actor turned director Attley Brar’s film Good Night Princess that I was introduced to her first. Pooja Batra was the other leading lady of the film. Though luckily for Priyanka, the film did not even see the light of the day, Priyanka has since then grown in stature, ever since her first film Andaaz was released.
I still remember how almost twenty-four years ago, way back in 1998, Priyanka had rung her affable doctor father Dr Ashok Chopra to tell him that she had met me at the muhurat in Mumbai. Her father rang me up on my landline just to tell me that he was very thankful to me for having made his darling daughter comfortable in an alien city like Mumbai where she had come to take part in a shooting. How since then times have changed. The shy dark and dusky girl is today an international icon on her own merit. And whatever she has achieved till date is undisputedly hers alone without the help of any Godfather.
Priyanka was a very transparent girl. At a party one evening, when I came to know that Akshay Kumar and she had parted ways, I had whispered in her ear when she came and embraced me warmly that she should be brave and not fret and fume after the split, Priyanka had shed tears and I had to quickly tell her to wipe out her tears and she came back to normalcy soon.
Priyanka is gung-ho about the way her career has progressed over the last 25 years. “I should say that it has been a very interesting journey for me as an actress ever since I had made my debut with Andaaz, considering the fact that I had no filmi background and I was also not from Mumbai, but from a small town like Bareily. I did not know what acting was and I was far too young at that point of time”.
Priyanka reiterates that she is not at all a money- minded actress. “I work for the heart and not for the sake of money. To me, money is not the only criterion when I take up a film because I do not do films for the sake of money. I would not say no to a film just because I do not get big money. If money is the sole criterion, I can always manage to get it by doing endorsements. It also does not mean that I would not charge my producer if he wants me to work in his film”.
As an actress who has acted in woman centric films like Saat Khoon Maaf, What’s Your Raashi and Mary Kom, when I had asked Priyanka what she had to say about the great amount of disparity as far as remuneration for heroes and heroines are concerned in Bollywood, she had quipped, “I have no other alternative but to agree that there is a disparity in remuneration for heroes and heroines. But I feel that the day heroine-centric films do well, there will be no more disparity”. Priyanka said that she had always believed that she is destiny’s favourite child and that there is an unseen hand on her head which guides her in the right direction. Her statement has indeed proved to be prophetic.
Even before her first Hollywood film hit theatres internationally and on home turf, Priyanka Chopra was already inundated with offers, as news of her next Hollywood film made headlines. While the producers of Silas Howard’s A Kid Like Jake confirmed that the global superstar was part of the film also starring Claire Danes of Romeo Juliet & The Hours fame and Academy Award winner Octavia Spencer, Priyanka was also in talks to board the New Line comedy “Isn’t It Romantic” opposite Rebel Wilson. The film also had Adam Levine and Liam Hemsworth. Priyanka Chopra, who became a household name in America with her TV show Quantico, was back on the small screen as the show has been renewed for a third season.
The international superstar is now part of Forbes India’s Celebrity 100 list, an annual compilation of Indian celebrities based on their earnings during the 1st October 2016 to 30th September 2017 period.With this, Priyanka Chopra also became the only female celebrity to be part of the Top 10 highest earning celebrities in the country. The superstar came in at the 7th rank after Salman Khan, Shah Rukh Khan, Virat Kohli, Akshay Kumar, Sachin Tendulkar and Aamir Khan. Priyanka Chopra was estimated to have earned a whopping 68 crores in the year 2017 thanks to her show Quantico, her Hollywood debut Baywatch and her brand endorsement deals. The star continued to rake in steady numbers with 2 Hollywood films – ‘A Kid Like Jake’ starring Jim Parsons, Claire Danes, and Octavia Spencer, and ‘Isn’t It Romantic?’ starring Rebel Wilson, Adam Devine, and Liam Hemsworth.
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When I had asked her what her biggest fear in life is, she had replied, quite as a matter of fact, “My biggest fear in life has always been failure. Any day, fear is not an option in life. I have always felt even as a little girl that rules break ‘karne mein hi zyada maza aata hain’. I am at that stage in my career when I am thrilled to do films of different genres. I was part of Vishal Bharadwaj’s amazing film Saat Khoon Maaf, where I played the killer wife to seven different husbands, ranging from Naseeruddin Shah to Neil Nitin Mukesh. I also did Kaminey for him and Don 2 for Farhan Akhtar. What more could I ask for? I took up the task of hosting Fear Factor- Khatron Ke Khiladi because I felt that it would be interesting to do something which is different. It was one reality show which was different in every respect when you compare it with other such reality shows on television today”.
When I asked her as to what extent was, she scared of newcomers arriving every day in the tinsel town like Asin in Ghajini, Anushka Sharma in Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi etc, I remember she had reiterated, “If I were not doing the kind of work that I do these days, I’d have felt the threat when newcomers come in droves in the industry. The truth is that I am secure and do not have the time to worry about new actresses, because I feel that there is work for everyone and hence do not feel threatened career-wise”.