From up there where she is perched, life looks like a bed of roses for the newly-married Priyanka Chopra. But the climb to the top hasn’t been easy. The roses unfortunately came with the pricks. From facing the wrath of powerful superstars to combating favouritism to making a name in a hostile imperialistic world…Priyanka fought it all and emerged a winner.
Her beginnings were not so humble. She opened her innings as an actor with a Sunny Deol and an Akshay Kumar starrer The Hero and Andaaz, respectively. I remember in Andaaz, Priyanka was made to do all the hot stuff (strip, smooch, slither, seduce) while her co-star Lara Dutt was seen as the true heroine of the film (demure, docile, coy).
Followed a slew of hits with Akshay Kumar including Aetraaz (where Priyanka vamped it up as a lady boss who all but rapes her employee) and Mujhse Shaadi Karogi. And suddenly she was out of Akshay Kumar’s range of vision reportedly due to spousal pressure. Salman Khan with whom she worked in several films during the first decade of the new millennium unofficially banned her from his films after she refused to do one of his family films. Another major superstar Shah Rukh Khan with whom she was on eminently cordial terms was also unable to work with her. It was rumoured that Priyanka was eased out of several projects with Shah Rukh.
Fighting the nepotism, sexism and star-wives’ wrath, that rules the industry, Priyanka bagged the lead in Madhur Bhandarkar’s Fashion where she played the hero. The film was a big hit and fetched her the National award for best actress. It was time to move forward…But where were the leading men? It was at this point that Priyanka took the plunge westwards which no other leading lady from Hollywood had ever taken.
Today Bhandarkar is rightfully proud of Priyanka, as he says, “It gives me immense pleasure to see her achievements. She is in a happy space personally and professionally. Priyanka has achieved all this by sheer hard work. She is not afraid of taking challenges and test unknown territories. During Fashion too she was absolutely committed towards her craft and I am happy that the film proved to be a great project and a turning point in her career which also got her first National Award.”
Priyanka Chopra hired herself an agent in Los Angeles and began building her career from scratch.
“Prashasniya (admirable) baat hai. She has achieved the kind of worldwide success which no other Indian actor has. And she did it all on her own. I don’t know how she found her way from Bollywood to the American film industry. But she did. She is now a known name all over the world. We are all proud of her,” says Shatrughan Sinha.
Celina Jaitley has the fondest memories of her association with Priyanka Chopra, “I have wonderful memories of all the time spent when she was mentoring me for Ms Universe. We also did Shah Rukh’s ‘Heat’ concert world tour shows in 6 countries. I can say with full confidence she has always been an amazing person, consistent, disciplined and we had some great laughs together. Being from an army background there has always been a special bond whenever we worked together, I am so happy that she found her soulmate and has set a great platform across borders for all Indian women singlehandedly.”
Adds Dia Mirza, “Priyanka has always had big ambition and the willingness to put in whatever it takes to achieve these aspirations. She has worked relentlessly to get where she has and I am sure she will continue to grow as artist and humanitarian. I’m happy she has found love and this marriage promises to be the beginning of many new beginnings in her life. Onwards and upwards Peecee!”
Swara Bhaskara feels Priyanka is an inspiration to generations of Indian actors. “I think Priyanka Chopra’s journey shows all young women that there are no rules to success and there needn’t be a template to your life. That girls can live just how they want, do what they want, blaze their own trails. Kudos to her.”