Newsmaker: #Chopra-on-a-roll

Tags: Newsmakers, Views
We have it on good authority. King Midas has passed on his spectre to Priyanka the Chopra. Oh yes, it’s no coincidence that Chopra is turning everything into gold in her wake — hell, she even outshined The Rock and The Zac in the campy Baywatch. So if you are still humming exaahtic, tongue in cheek, we suggest you hit the pause button and start on that trumpet, the new queen has arrived.

And believe you this, if Chopra has her way, this is just the beginning. Tell us, how many of us go to bed after a “come and get me destiny” tweet? Sure, Donald Trump tries. But all he manages is a #covfefe kerfuffle.

And to think that when Chopra started her “international” spiel, the nation largely laughed. Any other person would have hit the mute button, but not Chopra. She not only took it in her stride, but went all out, with Pitbull as her accessory and auto tune her true friend. The relentlessness paid off: today Chopra is easily the face of India. Yes, Aishwaraya Rai-Bachchan, despite your super soufflé Michael Cinco number in powder blue, belle of the ball is Chopra. So much so, that when the Prime Minister was on an official visit to Berlin, he took time off to “meet-and-greet” Chopra. Such is her star power. She may play it down, tagging merely an achiever at the end of her name, but make no mistake: Chopra is driven. Beneath that fluid charm and at times misplaced accent, there’s a lot of hard work.

Sure Chopra also got lucky. It worked to her advantage that she was at the right time at the right place. The Indian American community was looking for a mascot like Chopra, a diva who would cut through prejudices and demand stardom like it’s her birth right. What propelled Chopra to real fame is the eagerness with which the Indian American community embraced her Quantico, that silly TV show, with wafer thin plot line, got its nod for third season — only 13 episodes, but still nothing short of an achievement given that TRPs rule television.

When the show first premiered, Salon.com’s Indian origin television critic, Sonia Saraiya, put aside her objectivity and went to town with a headline that said it all (Priyanka Chopra’s Quantico: Cool, charismatic, complex Alex Parrish – the Indian-American heroine I’ve been waiting for).

In her article she explains that ABCD conundrum — how in America, it’s difficult to find characters that look like her and in India it’s hard to find characters that she can relate to culturally. It is in this slot that Chopra let herself loose. That the channel, ABC, bent over backward to give Chopra what she wanted with Quantico — Chopra got a lead role that was not specifically Indian and was free to act in Indian films — goes to show her star power but also that she's “forward thinking”, as Saraiya puts it.

Indian origin editor at The Aerogram, Rohin Guha, was equally ecstatic of Chopra: “We want her to succeed. We’re rooting for her because when she wins, we win.

For Chopra to succeed means that the rest of us don’t need to fill the model minority myth to excel in America. For Chopra to succeed means that our parents can encourage the next generation of Priyanka Chopras to chase their dreams. Chopra’s stint on US television bridges the cultures of Indians born in the US with those of their parents, their parents’ parents, and the families they left behind in India.”

Back when Chopra said, “I don’t look at Hollywood as a big break. Indian film stands on its own,” it was easy to dismiss it as bravado aimed to please the crowd. But two years down the line, Chopra has proven to the world that she indeed thinks Hollywood and Bollywood are not mutually exclusive. She managed to squeeze in films in Hindi, a mega budget Bhansali extravaganza at that. Her production company Purple Pebble Pictures’ venture, the Marathi film Ventilator, went on to win the National Award. And now, just two days home, we are hearing about a bunch of regional language films to be produced under her banner.

So, yeah, it is obvious Chopra, like any true achiever, is a big believer in pushing the boundaries: if juggling Hollywood and Bollywood spreads her thin, so be it. Don’t be surprised if Chopra did bag a super hero character that will give Wonder Woman a run for her money or co-produce Bhansali’s next film. Chopra is truly a star with a golden touch.

jemima.raman@mydigitalfc.com

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