Saturday, November 17, 2018

Bullied in US school, left 'defeated', Priyanka Chopra comes back to conquer Hollywood

  • Md Asiuzzaman, Toronto,
    Published: 2017-12-06 23:14:28 BdST

Priyanka Chopra. Reuters

She became a bullying victim at a school in the United States at the age of 13 and left the country 'devastated', but Priyanka Chopra has come back to conquer Hollywood 20 years after that humiliation.

“I was bullied by a freshman in school (in the US)," Priyanka told media in numerous interviews available on the YouTube and online media.

She identified her bully as ‘Jeanie’ who was black, and according to Priyanka 'supremely racist'. She used to call Priyanka ‘Brownie' and told her to go back to India. "You smell of curry", or sometimes, "Do you smell curry coming?"

In one interview, the 35-year old Bollywood star said, "You know when you’re a kid, and you’re made to feel bad about where your roots are, or what you look like? You don’t understand it, you just feel bad about who you are."

She left school in Massachusetts, US and went back to India, defeated and devastated!

In India, when she was applying for the scholarship, her mother sent some professionally shot photos to Miss India pageant without even telling her.  She won the contest in 1999, and in the following year, she won the Miss World contest. It gave her the platform to enter Indian film industry.

Actress Priyanka Chopra poses for photographers on the red carpet as she arrives for the TIME 100 Gala in Manhattan, New York, April 26, 2016. Reuters

Actress Priyanka Chopra poses for photographers on the red carpet as she arrives for the TIME 100 Gala in Manhattan, New York, April 26, 2016. Reuters

"I don't like losing, in anything I do. I felt like I could go back to school," Priyanka told the Dawn newspaper in an interview.

At 33, she came back to the US to play the protagonist in Quantico, ABC's high-rated series that broadcast in 68 countries across the world. And, for the first time in her long career, she faced an audition for Quantico.

Priyanka, who never went to a film school, not only passed the audition but she made Alex Parrish, the name of her character, revolve around her personality in Quantico.

After making an indelible mark in Bollywood or Indian movie industry with 50 films and myriad of awards including the national award, Priyanka has apparently made her mark permanent in the US.

Quantico is in its third season, and Priyanka has been given the freedom to show her Indianness. Her favourite Indian goddess has been allowed to stay in Alex's room. She is wearing a band with sign Om. (In Indian philosophical belief the sound Om is first created sound, and the world arose from it.) Alex was given a line in Hindi, which was unimaginable in the mainstream    American television before.

In an interview with Anupama Chopra, Priyanka said the creative team of Quantico often share ideas about her character and asks where she wants to be heading.

After the Quantico success, Priyanka signed the movie Baywatch though she is not playing the role Pamela Anderon played. She was offered the negative role written for a man in mind in the movie. Baywatch was her 51st film.

"Inherently, I am an actor. I did never play the same character twice except for Don and Krrish," she told Anupama.

File Photo: Actress Priyanka Chopra arrives at the 74th Annual Golden Globe Awards in Beverly Hills, California, US, January 8, 2017. Reuters

File Photo: Actress Priyanka Chopra arrives at the 74th Annual Golden Globe Awards in Beverly Hills, California, US, January 8, 2017. Reuters

A Hindustan Times analysis gave Priyanka the advantage over Pamela in all areas except for hot bikini body.

This year, in Toronto International Film Festival or TIFF, Priyanka came in a new Avatar - as a producer. She made her debut as a producer in a Sikkim-based movie titled 'Pahuna' which deals with three Nepalese children who rely on each other for survival when they become separated from their parents while entering India. The movie was premiered in TIFF and highly applauded.

Her every move now makes news; she is invited to almost all the entertainment talk shows in American TV channels including the Late Show with Stephen Colbert and Jimmy Kimmel Live. In most of the shows, she was introduced as 'international star'. Her 2017 Met Gala Red Carpet by Ralph Lauren became a 'big hit' while the replica of her feet has been kept in the Foot Museum in Florence, Italy.

But, ever since she came to prominence one question she has faced is how did she make it to Hollywood? She is an excellent orator, and she has an answer for every question.

"I set a high bar for whatever I do - be it a movie, TV, photo shoot or an interview I am doing with you now," she told Anupama in a 2016 interview, adding "Excellence is the pursuit of my life."

"I learnt it at the early stage of my career that female actors are replaceable, but I wanted to make myself irreplaceable.  Probably, this is what has brought me here to this position today.”

Moreover, it's a new business model for entertainment industry which is not confined to one country or a region in a globalised world. And the model is working for the American entertainment industry with her. Deepika Padukone and Anil Kapur's daughter Sonam Kapur are trying to follow Priyanka's footsteps.

There is no boundary, and she feels like she is now rootless flying between Hollywood and Bollywood. When asked about what she would avoid in Hollywood, her quick answer was 'nudity.' "I understand the difference between the bikini and the bra," she told Anupama.

For strong-willed Priyanka, 'confidence is your best accessory'.

Her inner voice comes from the soliloquy in one video available on YouTube:

"I want to be limitless

I want to break stereotypes,

I want to go where no man

Or woman has gone before

It might be a scary path, or

It might be path no one has taken,

But, at least, it will be just mine."

When dreams become determination, it becomes easier to reach the destination. There are other Indian actors - Irrfan Khan, Aishwarya Roy Bachhan, Anil Kapur, Anupam Kher, Naseeruddin Shah, Deepika Padukone and Freida Pinto, who have worked in Hollywood but their stint was short-lived.

Priyanka has certainly made her mark in Hollywood and is planning to dominate the world of entertainment in the years to come.