By Devansh Patel Bollywood Hungama News Network
Priyanka Chopra has moved from rom-com success to weightier drama. But, writes UK's Harrow Observer columnist and Bollywood Hungama's London correspondent Devansh Patel, its hard work telling when the acting stops and the real Priyanka Chopra starts. Part two of 'On a Date with Priyanka Chopra' continues....
She's not one of those Bollywood stars who plays on her stardom to have you listen to her on other issues. She's worth listening to because of her own inherent intelligence, experience and background. In films, she suggests so much while saying so little - anger, desperation, loneliness, humour - all through the tiniest movements of a tight-lipped mouth. Priyanka has often portrayed women of rare strength, despite her super glamorous image.
Her professionalism is to the core and so is her privacy when she informs me, "I don't invite cameras in my house. I don't mind doing a one off interview sometimes but don't want it to become national television where everyone comes to know what my house looks like."
I ask her whether she considers herself lucky. "There was a lot of being at the right place at the right time but there was also a lot of not getting the right films to start off with. If I missed out on a film, somebody up there was making place for something better to come along. That has made me a very positive person because I've seen it happen in my life too."
Her accent is American but she is a rooted Indian who came back after four years of studying in the United States. "I remember one day when I suddenly decided to come back to India because of racist issues back in the States. I left India when I was twelve and came back when I was sixteen. My father saw me as a grown up girl and I was happy. But was very upset that I came back. It was all well. I often myself questioned why I came back; just because of the racist issues or because I missed home." But little did Miss Priyanka Chopra know that her home coming was going to take her the world over in years to come. "I then wanted to go to Australia and study engineering and I was applying in colleges out there. The next thing I see myself becoming Miss India and then Miss World. For a girl picked up from school in a school uniform and then be standing on the world stage wearing the Miss World crown was ridiculous."
Call Priyanka destiny's child and she will agree. "Yes. My life has entirely been a twist of destiny. So I've left it up to it. I never plan my life and what I do at this moment is what matters to me. I'm not worried about tomorrow." Good for me too because I never planned this gorgeous 'date'. It just happened.
What's Kaminey going to bring out in her? "I'm going to make people laugh a little bit. My character is very endearing and small, comparatively. My role of Sweety has no interest in studies and likes going to the boys' hostel and hangs out with her boyfriend. It's a sweet love story and very grounded. She doesn't have time to go through the make up routine. She puts on her Indian dress, makes her choti (Indian hairstyle) and out she goes. It was very liberating for me to do that."
Watching Chopra talk so much felt like watching a movie. It was liberating. But reading scripts does engage this Miss World quite a lot. "I love reading scripts. I also proof read scripts for friends. It's a good way to pass my time. We did a lot of reading sessions for Kaminey because it's an interactive film."
Her film talk continues. "The title of the film is really doing wonders for the film. When my director Vishal told me that the film is titled 'Kaminey' I thought he was joking. It is definitely something that's making people inquisitive." She adds, "The film is a very different take on the way Indian cinema has been. The characters are so real that you can touch them, feel them and talk to them. My character of Sweety and Shahid Kapoor's character of Guddu are lovable. Kaminey is probably Vishal Bhardwaj's most commercial films. It's an action comedy caper like Snatch and Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels type. Kaminey caters to an intelligent audience. It intrigues you because it looks different, it has got music which touches your tastes somewhere and here is my role of a middle class girl who is a sister of a local mafia don going to college whose aim in life is to get married."
Priyanka's manners are impeccable. She's smart enough to talk at length without letting her guard down. But she noticeably retreats when the conversation turns personal. But I like slipping in things. "What about your marriage plans?" I ask. I see Priyanka sensed this one coming. "You do a lot of these things, don't you Devansh? Nicely slipped in", she comments.
With her career's soaring success, I ask Chopra whether marriage eventually will take a back seat if and when she does get married. "I think that happens to everyone isn't it? There are some professions which need priority. I really believe that from the age of 18 to say 35 is the only time where you will be working with the zest. The rest of the years you can get married and have kids. It's a balancing act."
Not many are aware of the fact that the former Miss World is a big foodie. She believes that London serves the best Indian food. When asked whether she would prefer the famous Mushy Peas of London, she replies, "I hate mushy peas but love boiled peas with lots of butter with a sprinkle of salt and pepper. That's yummy." Along with foods, she is a voracious reader too. Her favourite book is 'Letters by a father to his daughter' by Jawaharlal Nehru.
Having met Priyanka in the past, she reckons that I'll like her new film. "I think I know that you'll like Kaminey. I can sense it", she says. She also checks on her fear. "But you will criticise the film too, isn't it?" she wants to know. I answer, "I will if I want to and if the film deserves to be criticised." Pat comes her comment, "You should."
Ever thought of being a part of the London's musicals or America's Broadway? "I love stage. It's something else. I've seen Mama Mia in Las Vegas. I'd love to perform one day on stage. It may sound tragic but because of my non vacation life since the last six years it's been difficult to cherish the best musicals or broadways. I just can't take out time and though it may sound stupid, I cannot explain it to people."
"Once everybody leaves the seventh floor of Priyanka Chopra's apartment I clean up. This is how I am: real and clean," she confesses. So as I prepare to leave, my eyes spot her picking up the gift wrap lying on the floor. There she was: the real Priyanka Chopra.