In her in-depth revelation of PriYaNKa CHOPra’S life, Bharathi S Pradhan, who authored Priyanka Chopra - ‘The Dark Horse’ speaks to Subhojit Ghosh about PeeCee, the book, her experience while writing it and a lot more…
What prompted you to write the book ‘Priyanka Chopra - The Dark Horse’ ? I was the editor of a film monthly when Priyanka won the Miss World crown and I’ve known about the many heart-wrenching roadblocks she’s faced since 2000. Nobody then would’ve foreseen that she’d be the global icon she is today. I guess it was simply the old journalist genes kicking in when I saw a good story there and went after it. I’m also at that stage of my life where I want to write inspirational stories. It was the how-to-be-a-winner-like-Priyanka template that tempted me to write The Dark Horse on her. Why only Priyanka Chopra and not any other actress? After anybody reads The Dark Horse, I would like them to tell me that ‘Who else amongst the current crop of celebrities would’ve made a better story than this Bareilly-to-Beverly Hills actress?’ I could’ve written a similar book on a high achiever like Amitabh Bachchan. I have talked to people who’ve watched him closely, used my interactions with him in the past and done an inspirational study on how to succeed like him. I’m sure Amit would’ve appreciated a book like that. However, everything that is there to know about him is already out and there are already over a dozen books on him in the market. On the other hand, mine is the first ever book on Priyanka and it has unpublished inside stories that have all been given to me by very highly respected names from the film world. You have dared to go in depth about her personal life and disclosed a lot of things about her personal life in print. Were you at any point of time hesitant or in two minds on whether to go ahead with it or not? First, this kind of book has never before been attempted in India. It’s not a biography. It’s like Secret or a Paulo Coelho or Dale Carnegie book on how to be a winner based on a celebrity’s success story; about her overcoming daunting odds. But how do you talk about overcoming a hurdle if you don’t talk about the hurdle itself? I merely saw certain
moments in her personal life as speedbreakers that she had to negotiate to reach where she did. So no, why would I hesitate to write the story the way it happened? You spoke about her relationship with Shah Rukh Khan of six years and also about how Twinkle Khanna had to step in between to stop Akshay from working with Priyanka in films. What were the sources you relied on due to which you were sure of the factual correctness of whatever you have said in your book due to which you could get it printed by the publishers? Those relationships have always been out there in the public domain. Besides, I have quoted filmmakers like Suneel Darshan who told me in a taped interview, about the Barsaat incident. Also, I am of the firm belief that it’s terribly outdated and sexist to lay emphasis on a woman’s relationships. Wherever a relationship is mentioned in The Dark Horse, it’s more about getting up and moving on from there than about the man on the scene. A celebrity like Priyanka has much more going for her than just a couple of relationships which have all been documented before. Did you speak to Priyanka Chopra before the book got published? No, I did not and I have three reasons for it. I had done a very warm and lovely cover story on her when I was the editor of a magazine and I used quotes from that piece all over the book wherever it was relevant. I have been so upfront about this that right at the beginning of the book in the copyright section, I have stated that her quotes to me were from that interview. It was to make it clear that her quotes were not specifically for the book. I had great mental clarity over the roadmap I had for the book and I got enough and more material from extremely responsible personalities like Subhash Ghai, Sanjay Leela Bhansali, Madhur Bhandarkar, Anurag Basu, AbbasMustan, Tarun Mansukhani, Manish Malhotra, Farah Khan and many others. The book is therefore peppered with untold behindthe-scenes incidents that have all come from these illustrious names. I knew I was writing a book that would be a huge compliment to Priyanka Chopra. Any actor would be flattered that such a book has been written on her or him, nobody has written a book like this on any Indian celebrity so far. But I wanted my creative independence to write it the way I wanted to. I didn’t want managers and sundry others wanting vetting rights over my manuscript. So what next for Bharathi Pradhan, the author? Plenty, plenty. An author who had announced an unauthorised biography on Priyanka Chopra many months ago, sent me a message saying I turned out to be chhuparustom because his book is yet to be released while mine is already out and is trending No 1 on Amazon. I’m working on three nonfiction books and two fiction novels but I won’t breathe a word about any of them or reveal any names until they’re ready to hit the book stores. What kind of reaction and reviews have you received so far from the readers? As mentioned above, it was the No 1 Bestseller on Amazon. My publishers, ‘Om Book International’ are over the moon and the writeups and reviews have been unanimously, ‘wow!’ I’ve had reactions from readers and fans that they found it a fascinating and unputdownable read. But I think it’s taking time for people to understand that this is not a tell-all biography. It’s way beyond being one. I wish they wouldn’t keep referring to The Dark Horse as a biography. Lastly, your favourite personalities from the film industry whose life interest you in some way or the other? I really can’t answer this because that would be revealing what my next book is all about. Whatever or whoever interests me shall be the subject of my next book. But I can promise you that Stardust will be the first to know about it and it’ll once again be a hot-selling book that nobody would’ve ever thought of writing.