Priyanka Chopra’s Bollywood fans can finally cheer up – she will soon be back in action back home. In an exclusive interview in Toronto, the film star said she was excited about two Hindi films that she had already finalised for next year, promising to reveal more “as soon as I put pen to paper”. She rubbished rumours that she was planning to quit Bollywood. “Oh, that’s terrible!” she exclaimed, when asked.
Just because one person wrote that? Not at all. Hindi films have always been a priority for me. Yes, I haven’t had the opportunity to do any films because of Quantico for the last two years. But now I’m definitely going to be doing films.Priyanka Chopra
Chopra was in Toronto as the guest of honour for the annual TIFF Soiree, the exclusive fundraising gala that’s held on the eve of the Toronto International Film Festival, which runs September 7-17 this year. She is the first Indian guest of honour at the Soiree, following global stars like Al Pacino, Natalie Portman and Michael Fassbender in previous years. “That's some seriously august company to be a part of,” she noted.
The invitation is recognition both of her own star wattage as well as a nod to the Indian film industry. “That’s the industry that taught me everything that I am, so I want to be able to represent them the best way I can,” she said.
This year, the Soiree is raising funds for the Share Her Journey initiative, which seeks to promote women in the film industry. A film from Chopra’s production house Purple Pebble Pictures, titled Pahuna: The Little Visitors, is also premiering at TIFF. The film, directed by Paakhi A Tyrewala, is set in Sikkim and tells the story of three Nepalese children who get separated from their parents while fleeing to India from the Maoist violence in their country.
Chopra said she was motivated by her own early struggles to promote regional cinema and small, content-driven projects. “This is what I wanted to create – a small production house that gives those people, new talent, an opportunity, because it was really, really hard for me when I started in India. And even in America. The reason I want to be able to talk about – at TIFF today – about female filmmakers or diversity – why I’m vocal about it, is because it all comes from my experiences.”
She’s come a long way since then. A sitcom inspired by her “favourite actress” Madhuri Dixit’s life is in the very early stages of development with ABC. “It’s a fictional story completely,” Chopra said. “It’s a big Bollywood star from the ’90s who decides to give up everything for love and becomes a soccer mom in middle America.” She will also be seen in the Hollywood productions A Kid Like Jake alongside Jim Parsons, Claire Danes and Octavia Spencer, and Isn’t It Romantic, with Rebel Wilson, Adam Devine and Liam Hemsworth.
Even though she is used to getting star billing in Bollywood, Chopra said she was always comfortable doing smaller roles or being part of an ensemble cast. “If you look at people like Jennifer Lawrence who’s done American Hustle or Brad Pitt who’s done, like, two scene bits, I don’t think that’s a consideration of stardom, in America at least,” Chopra said, adding, “And I wish people would do that in India. I’ve done that, Kaminey, I had just eight scenes in it. In Bajirao Mastani, I was the supporting part in the film. So I think differently.”
She’s taking the same approach to her career, refusing to be tied down to a single market or country. “The entertainment world is too small now,” she declared. “Forget just India or America. I want to work in Australia, I want to work in England, I want to work everywhere they want me to work.”