Millennium Post

My life has never been predictable: Priyanka

She waltzed into <g data-gr-id="233">tinseltown</g> from nowhere and today she’s on the verge of celebrating a decade in the film industry. A former Miss World, who people didn’t expect to last long, has not only won accolades but has also delivered many blockbusters, including Agneepath and Barfi! which crossed the magical Rs 100-crore mark. Let’s not forget, she was also part of two movies that crossed the Rs 100-crore mark, RA.One (friendly appearance) and Don 2. Here’s the feisty Priyanka Chopra in conversation with  Vajir Singh

You will complete a decade in the film industry on May 23, 2016, since your first film Andaaz released on May 23, 2003.
(Cuts in) Yesssss! I have got so much from the film industry, especially because I am not from here and I didn’t have any family or friends in the business. So getting the kind of acceptance I have received from the industry and the audience is very overwhelming. Just the other day I was thinking… ‘I came in when I was 17, I didn’t know anything…’ So this is like Jeena <g data-gr-id="333">yahan</g> <g data-gr-id="334">marna</g> <g data-gr-id="335">yahan</g>…

Since you had no film connections, did you ever expect you would be able to get a foothold in the industry?
No, I didn’t think I would. I never expected to be an actor. I became an actor by <g data-gr-id="328">fluke,</g> because I won the Miss World contest, and the movies started coming in. Since I was very young, I didn’t know anything or anybody. So jo <g data-gr-id="337">bhi</g> <g data-gr-id="338">mujhe</g> advice <g data-gr-id="339">karta</g> <g data-gr-id="340">tha</g>… koi <g data-gr-id="341">bhi</g>, that it was a good thing, I would do it. I had given myself a year and a half. I <g data-gr-id="324">thought,</g> if it works out <g data-gr-id="342">toh</g> <g data-gr-id="343">theek</g> <g data-gr-id="344">hai</g>, if not, I will go back to college. I will still be 19, so koi fark <g data-gr-id="345">nahi</g> <g data-gr-id="346">padta</g>. But the film worked out and it did well. And the next one also did well. Andaaz, Aitraaz and Mujhse Shaadi Karogi happened in a span of a year. And it put me in a good place in my life. I guess destiny <g data-gr-id="349">sab</g> plan <g data-gr-id="347">karke</g> <g data-gr-id="348">rakhta</g> hai.

Looking back, do you have any regrets?
(Cuts in) I just wish I was more experienced. Sometimes, I wish I had somebody to advise me on how to handle things. Mujhe <g data-gr-id="294">nahi</g> <g data-gr-id="295">pata</g> <g data-gr-id="296">tha</g> ki <g data-gr-id="297">aisi</g> films <g data-gr-id="298">karni</g> <g data-gr-id="299">chahiye</g>, <g data-gr-id="300">aise</g> <g data-gr-id="305">logon</g> <g data-gr-id="301">se</g> <g data-gr-id="302">baat</g> <g data-gr-id="303">karni</g> <g data-gr-id="304">chahiye</g>. Toh <g data-gr-id="306">maine</g> <g data-gr-id="307">apne</g> type <g data-gr-id="308">ke</g> rules <g data-gr-id="309">banaye</g> <g data-gr-id="310">aur</g> <g data-gr-id="311">apni</g> man ki <g data-gr-id="312">filmein</g> <g data-gr-id="313">ki</g>. Sometimes I went wrong, sometimes I was right.

2012 was a great year for you. You started it with Agneepathand ended with Barfi! But there was Teri Meri Kahaani too. Does the failure of a film affect you?
Of course. I believe in every film I take <g data-gr-id="236">up</g> but I also believe that har film <g data-gr-id="317">ki</g> <g data-gr-id="315">apni</g> kismet <g data-gr-id="316">hoti</g> <g data-gr-id="318">hai</g>, and an actor is a very small part of the film. It’s the director’s prerogative. It’s how a producer positions the film. How the story is written, the dialogue is written. Then the actors come in. We actors end up getting a lot of credit <g data-gr-id="319">iski</g> film <g data-gr-id="320">nahi</g> <g data-gr-id="321">chali</g> or <g data-gr-id="322">iski</g> film <g data-gr-id="323">chali</g>. 

After a decade in the industry, what are your criterion to take up a project? Or do you still follow your instinct?
Like I said earlier, I always go by my instinct. Sometimes, I overthink. Everyone does. I loved doing Krrish 3, Gunday, Zanjeer and even Mary Kom. Each one is so different from the other. I never repeat my characters. I always try and create different characters. I have learnt that on my own.

Do you go by the character you have to play or the commercial viability of the film? Will it do well or will it fetch you an award?
The first thing I look at is not the character but the story. I ask myself if I would want to watch the character.<g data-gr-id="266">Yeh</g> <g data-gr-id="258">mujhe</g> entertain <g data-gr-id="259">karegi</g> ya <g data-gr-id="260">nahi</g>, <g data-gr-id="267">yeh</g> <g data-gr-id="261">gaana</g> <g data-gr-id="262">mujhe</g> <g data-gr-id="263">acchha</g> <g data-gr-id="264">lagega</g> ki <g data-gr-id="265">nahi</g>. And then comes the role. Ki role <g data-gr-id="268">acchha</g> hai ya <g data-gr-id="269">nahi</g>, do I want to do the film at this time in my life? I am not an arty kind. So I enjoy commercial films and end up doing films which are entertaining. 

The award factor comes much later. I never thought that Fashion would fetch me a National Award. But it did. I also see that if the producer <g data-gr-id="350">uss</g> director <g data-gr-id="351">ke</g> vision ko us <g data-gr-id="352">tarah</g> market kar <g data-gr-id="353">payega</g> ki <g data-gr-id="354">nahi</g>. Because that’s what’s important. Taal <g data-gr-id="358">mel</g> director <g data-gr-id="355">aur</g> producer ka <g data-gr-id="356">hona</g> bahut <g data-gr-id="357">zaroori</g> hai.

Since you go into so much detail, don’t you think you should become a producer now?
No. The world’s craziest people become producers. I don’t know how they do it. Mujhe acting <g data-gr-id="202">karne</g> <g data-gr-id="203">mein</g> <g data-gr-id="204">itna</g> stress <g data-gr-id="205">milta</g> <g data-gr-id="206">hai</g>.

My life has never been predictable. I was going to be an engineer, I became an actor. I am an actor, and I became a singer. Mujhe <g data-gr-id="239">pata</g> <g data-gr-id="240">nahi</g> hai ki main <g data-gr-id="241">kahan</g> <g data-gr-id="242">ja</g> <g data-gr-id="243">rahi</g> hun. Kya <g data-gr-id="244">honewala</g> hai.

So you might just become a director or a producer?
I could be anything, I could be a pilot. But now hum <g data-gr-id="217">aise</g> generation <g data-gr-id="218">mein</g> <g data-gr-id="219">hain</g> that the world is your oyster. You can do anything. You pick up a map and say you want to visit a country and you do that. I feel it’s a magical time when I can do anything.

Before <g data-gr-id="192"><g data-gr-id="190">Gunday</g></g> you didn’t do <g data-gr-id="191">film</g> with YRF for a long time. Why so?
I wasn’t approached. When I am approached for a film, I will. I can’t call up Adi (Aditya Chopra) and ask him to offer me a film. I pick from the choices I am presented with. Thankfully, I have had the chance to work with all the big filmmakers and actors from the beginning of my career.

You have worked with solo <g data-gr-id="195">producers in</g> the beginning of your career and today you’re working with corporate studios. Do you see any difference?
They are both great. Today, there are very few solo producers left. Sajid (Nadiadwala), Karan (Johar), Vashuji (Bhagnani) and Ramesh Taurani. But there’s no reason they can’t co-exist. Now corporates are teaming up with creative producers like Ekta (Kapoor). 

This is a great culture that’s evolving. There is money coming in to give these guys financial backing and there is the creativity that comes with being a solo producer.

You worked with a different set of people for the first time, like Sanjay Leela Bhansali, Ekta Kapoor, returning to YRF, and after Don, another remake in Zanjeer. Was this a deliberate decision?
Mere ko <g data-gr-id="359">toh</g> <g data-gr-id="360">nahi</g> <g data-gr-id="361">pata</g>. Mujhe phone <g data-gr-id="362">aaya</g>, <g data-gr-id="363">maine</g> <g data-gr-id="364">kahaani</g> <g data-gr-id="365">suni</g>, <g data-gr-id="366">mujhe</g> <g data-gr-id="367">acchi</g> <g data-gr-id="368">lagi</g>. I don’t think too much about it. Ki ab <g data-gr-id="370">mujhe</g> <g data-gr-id="371">iss</g> camp <g data-gr-id="372">ke</g> <g data-gr-id="373">saath</g> <g data-gr-id="374">kaam</g> <g data-gr-id="375">karna</g> hai. It’s always the filmmakers who have come to me. Khuda ka <g data-gr-id="376">khair</g> hai mere <g data-gr-id="377">paas</g> ki, <g data-gr-id="378">mujhe</g> <g data-gr-id="379">kabhi</g> <g data-gr-id="380">kaam</g> <g data-gr-id="381">nahi</g> <g data-gr-id="382">maangna</g> <g data-gr-id="385">pada</g> <g data-gr-id="383">abhi</g> <g data-gr-id="384">tak</g>. And also to work with such an eclectic mix of producers and directors challenges you to do completely different characters.

When you look back, do you think your life could have been better or worse?
It could’ve been both. It depends on my choices. I made some good choices because of which I am where I am today, others might have been wrong, which is why I am where I am. Agar <g data-gr-id="220">meri</g> <g data-gr-id="221">satak</g> <g data-gr-id="222">jaati</g> <g data-gr-id="223">toh</g> I could’ve made wrong choices. But I am content to be where I am. And more than anything, I take pride in the fact that I never had <g data-gr-id="245">help</g>. That was tough.

I have gotten thrown out of films because koi <g data-gr-id="211">aur</g> recommend <g data-gr-id="216">ho ke</g> <g data-gr-id="212">aayi</g> hai, ya <g data-gr-id="213">toh</g> director <g data-gr-id="214">se</g> ya producer <g data-gr-id="215">se</g>. I have been told after meeting with me, that no we can’t cast you because this person works out better or was recommended. This happened to me a lot in the beginning. And those were big films.

Do you still meet those producers or directors?
(Laughs) I have worked with them. That’s what I am telling you. This is the film industry. Everyone has to work with everyone. Ek do <g data-gr-id="284">logon</g> <g data-gr-id="277">ke</g> <g data-gr-id="278">saath</g> <g data-gr-id="279">shayad</g> <g data-gr-id="280">maine</g> <g data-gr-id="281">baat</g> <g data-gr-id="282">karni</g> band kar <g data-gr-id="285">di</g> because they did <g data-gr-id="283">badtameezi</g> with me, but besides that everyone has had a reason to make that decision. The only thing I don’t like is when people are rude. Sometimes, as an actor, I also feel that <g data-gr-id="287">mujhe</g> <g data-gr-id="288">nahi</g> <g data-gr-id="289">karna</g> hai yeh film.

Have you had the media on your side through your journey so far?
Of course, I have. I have been part of so many controversies that… <g data-gr-id="330">unka</g> <g data-gr-id="331">bhi</g> <g data-gr-id="332">kaam</g> hai. It’s a demand-and-supply thing. If people don’t want to know those things about the actor, the media won’t write about it. Because people want to know something, that is what they buy and so that is what they sell. But I am against sensationalising. Get a fact, write about it. I have no problem. I will also give you a comment. I will come out and say, OK, ‘yes’ or ‘no’. What is wrong is that people forget I am also someone’s daughter.. my dad, my brother would also read it. 

Again, coming back to our first question… In the last decade, do you think the industry has accepted you and you have made friends here?
I have made friends. But I am also very aloof. I have trust issues. I have my two to three friends and my family. I keep it very private. Being alone in the film industry has taught me to be tough. But I have made some amazing friends, people who have stood by me. 

Work-wise, the film industry has definitely accepted me. I was an outsider and they gave me a place in their small close-knit world, which is great. 

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