Cho­pra de­fies stereo­types in Hol­ly­wood

The Myanmar Times - - The Pulse -

IN­DIAN su­per­star Priyanka Cho­pra is not mak­ing any com­pro­mises in swap­ping Bol­ly­wood for Hol­ly­wood. The former Miss World, who has won an army of fans in the US since tak­ing the lead in the Amer­i­can spy thriller tele­vi­sion series Quan­tico last year, re­fuses to be stereo­typed by her beauty or her ori­gins.

“I didn’t want to do a show that would stereo­type me or put In­dian peo­ple into a box. I’m a lead­ing ac­tress in In­dia and I wanted to make sure I was a lead­ing ac­tress in what­ever I did,” she said.

“I would not com­pro­mise on that,” said the star of the ABC show in which she plays an FBI agent sus­pected of com­mit­ting a ter­ror­ist at­tack.

Proud to call her­self a “strong­willed fem­i­nist”, the 34-year-old is de­ter­mined to build her ca­reer and still “have lots of ba­bies. But there is noth­ing un­der way on that,” she told AFP in Paris on a visit to pro­mote Quan­tico, whose sec­ond series be­gins in Septem­ber.

“I’ve still to find the right guy. That’s im­por­tant,” she said, laugh­ing.

Like her char­ac­ter in Quan­tico, Alex Par­rish, who has to go into hid­ing to clear her name, Cho­pra sticks to her guns.

She has turned down roles in Bri­tain be­cause she was “al­ways asked to play the stereo­type of an In­dian”.

The spy show’s in­ter­na­tional suc­cess is chang­ing all that.

That has been such a hit may have sur­prised some but Cho­pra – the first South Asian to head­line a US net­work series – said its back­story of peo­ple with se­crets is univer­sal.

“This show talks about peo­ple with se­crets and ev­ery­one has se­crets. Ter­ror­ism is a huge part of our real­ity whether you like it or not,” she said.

“It is the most cow­ardly way of in­still­ing fear to make peo­ple un­der­stand some­one’s be­lief.”

But jump­ing to con­clu­sions about ter­ror­ism was equally dan­ger­ous, she said. “In Amer­ica it is easy to frame a brown girl” like Alex, she added.

Cho­pra’s abil­ity to carry such a com­plex char­ac­ter has opened other more meaty roles, with the ac­tress play­ing the bad­die in the new Bay­watch film due for re­lease in May.

“I make the good guys’ lives mis­er­able,” she said with some rel­ish.

Hav­ing cam­paigned to close the gen­der pay gap in Bol­ly­wood, she cred­its her mother, a doc­tor who served in the In­dian army, for help­ing forge her fem­i­nist prin­ci­ples.

“She raised me to be the kind of girl who thinks, who has opin­ions too. For so many years women were told to act a cer­tain way, to dress a cer­tain way, to think a cer­tain way, even not to think at all.

“Peo­ple mis­con­strue the word ‘fem­i­nism’. It is not hat­ing men, or mak­ing men small. It is just say­ing, ‘We want our in­de­pen­dence to make our own choices the way men have done for so long.’”

Nor did it stop her hav­ing the phrase “Daddy’s lil girl” tat­tooed on her wrist af­ter her fa­ther, who was also an army doc­tor, died three years ago. “It is in his hand­writ­ing,” she said.

Born in Jamshed­pur in Bi­har in north­east In­dia, Cho­pra has al­ready more than 50 films to her name and is proud of how Bol­ly­wood films “are now be­ing seen world­wide”.

And she has ab­so­lutely no in­ten­tion to turn her back on her home­land de­spite her US suc­cess. She works there as a UNICEF am­bas­sador and for the UN’s Girls Up cam­paign, and her own foun­da­tion run by her mother sup­ports un­der­priv­i­leged girls across In­dia.

“Philanthropy is not some­thing to do be­cause I’m a fa­mous per­son, but be­cause I was raised like that” with a strong spirit of pub­lic ser­vice, she said. –

Photo: AFP

Priyanka Cho­pra, star of US hit spy thriller Quan­tico, said she has turned down stereo­typ­i­cal roles in the past and will con­tinue to do so in the fu­ture.

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