Priyanka Chopra - Making India Proud

She has made the country proud with her global achievements. Juggling between an American TV series and her films back home, Priyanka is exhausted, but still raring to go. In the country shortly after Bajirao Mastani hit theatres, she’s all smiles as the film has got her rave reviews and ‘Quantico’ just got extended. There’s more waiting for her, here and abroad. Talking about life, films, commitments and the appreciation, we speak to Piggy Chops for a candid one-on-one. 
Two of your films in 2015 were appreciated by the audiences. Did you expect this kind of a response?
I always knew Kashi would be an integral role in the film. Primarily, the film is about Bajirao and Mastani’s love story, but Kashi is the one history has forgotten - kudos to Sanjay sir who remembered and thought about the girl. She got married at six and all she did in her life was to wait for Bajirao to come home after the war. He was her life.
But I didn’t expect this kind of appreciation, I think nobody does. When I landed, my house was like a garden. I thought it was my birthday. There were so many flowers around, and my mother was laughing. Kashi has become a milestone for me in my life. Just like Aitraaz, Fashion, Barfi and Mary Kom.
But you weren’t here when the film released.
Ranveer and Deepika were not available post release, and so we had divided our roles. They did the promotions here and I did it overseas. I was supposed to do post-release interviews which I’m doing now. Three of us are such a formidable team and this story is such a progressive story in such regressive times.
The best compliment you received from anyone…
We have all got compliments from Mr. Bachchan. He does this every time he likes my performance. He sends me a letter and my mother collects them. My mother is a huge Bachchan fan and she can’t talk when she is in front of him. She has a collection of all the letters he’s sent to me. She compares my performance on that basis and over the years it has become a tradition.
It’s like my mother’s medal. I even told him that if you don’t send me a letter, my mother will think I’ve performed badly.
How much do you bring in your real life characteristics in your roles?
I usually try to get rid of Priyanka when I’m playing a character. I try to give each character its own individuality and work on it before the film starts. However, my process is different from that of the people who have been to acting schools. I’ve learnt it while doing films and my gurus have always been my directors and co-actors.
The way I work is, by creating a personality around the character. I don’t work on individual scenes. Once you are familiar with the character, you put me in any scene, I don’t need to prepare. When I go on sets and wear my costume, I understand who she is and then my lines come out accordingly.
Do you take pride in being self-made?
Honestly, as I said I did everything on my own… all the right and the wrong that I have done only I’m to be blamed for it. I’ve made a lot of mistakes too but that everyone does. I depend very heavily on writers of the films because it’s their creation. And yes, I take a lot of pride in being self-made. I am happy that people say that only Priyanka could have played this role.
Passion, glamour, glitz, hard work, ability and expression - a concoction of which of the following characters do you see in a potential actress?
I don’t know about a potential actress, but I can talk about myself! I can tell you which of these makes me. Hard work is the first ingredient to my success. I was 17 when I started working and I was just out of the school when I became Miss World. Suddenly at 19, I was doing films.
I did not know anything or anyone in the industry. I came here with my mom and dad, who also did not know anyone. The only thing I knew was I will work really hard that which I did all my life because I believe I’m a fighter. So hard work is the most essential quality that makes me who I am!
Passion comes second. I’m very passionate about everything that I do! Whether it is picking my clothes or going to sleep (laughs), or working in movies. I’m a learner. I learnt how to act. I taught myself that and moreover, I’m very passionate about life, in general. I feel anything can be taught! You can be whoever you want to, if you are willing to learn. That has to be the most important quality for a potential actor or a potential anything.
As a young person, you should be okay making mistakes and learning from them. Glamour, yes, you can build glamour. I’m not the most beautiful girl in the world, I wasn’t! I have also built that. I have learnt to select the right clothes for me, the right hair and the right make-up for myself. All of it makes us confident and confidence is the most glamorous thing in the world.
From an era where models weren’t considered great actors, you have carved a niche for yourself which very few could have done in their life. You zoomed into the list of A-listed actresses in such a short time. How does that make you feel?
I think that is a phrase that people should throw out of the window now! There have been too many models who have proved that they can act! There was Juhi Chawla, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, Sushmita, Lara and then Katrina too. So many people have done that. So now, I feel it is not right to say that. I think acting is a very individual thing. Either you know it or you don’t!
Andaaz to Bajirao Mastani there has been a constant evolution in Priyanka Chopra. How did that change come in?
At the end of the day, you have to grow, right? I think because I was so young, I grew up in films. My glamour world or showbiz has been who I am! I guess I don’t know anything else. The only thing I knew was that I don’t want to be fit into a box or be just another ‘heroine’! If I do something, I try to do it my way.
Whether it works or not, whether I’m an A-listed actor or not, I was okay with that as long as I did it my way, which is why I pick the films that I have in my entire life. When I did Aitraaz, I was only a year into films. I didn’t know what anything was. When I did the film, everyone told me that you would just stay a vamp if you do Aitraaz, if you want to be a heroine, you should do films with positive roles. I did the film because I believed in it and I was only 20 years old! But it just changed my Life, then I bagged the awards, I did more films, then I did Fashion and everyone told me that actresses do such female oriented films at the end of their career. Today everyone is doing a feminist role.
What about the Kalpana Chawla biopic?
There are a bunch of films that I’m considering. I cannot commit as to which one I’m doing. But there are a few amazing scripts that I’m vetting right now. My problem is that I have a lot to choose from but no time. I guess that’s a good problem!
Is it a biopic?
There are six films which I’m deciding on right now. And I can only do two. Between America and India, I don’t know what I will end up doing. The show has got extended. We have dubbed Quantico in 44 languages. It’s gone to over 120 countries and become a huge success globally. So from 13, we have 22 episodes now. I didn’t expect that to happen but it just ended up happening and which is why I have very less time in hand now.