In an exclusive conversation with Indian Express’ columnist Harneet Singh,Priyanka Chopra talks about life after her father’s death,prepping for Mary Kom,her latest single Exotic and dealing with trolls.
Priyanka Chopra is sitting with boxer Mary Kom in the Olympic Bronze winner’s home in Imphal. From the day she signed on the dotted line to portray Mary Kom in the Sanjay Leela Bhansali production,tentatively titled Mary Kom,Priyanka wanted to meet the champion to research for the “hardest film” of her life.
“I hope I can do justice to Mary. It’s too early to talk about the film as we have a long way to go. It’s kind of surreal that Mary is sitting right next to me, she says,over the phone.
It was on the sets of Mary Kom where Priyanka Chopra returned to,just days after losing her father,Dr Ashok Chopra to cancer,last month. The decision to get back to work was not easy.
It was very painful. It still is. Nobody will understand what Im going through except me. I don’t like to talk about my weaknesses. I don’t like to show the chinks in my armour but if I hadnt gone back to work then I would have gone mad, she says. The grueling training for Mary Kom was almost cathartic.
“I put blinkers on when I’m at work. When Im on the sets then nothing else matters. Work keeps me going. Thats something my dad always taught me, she says.
Her father also introduced her to singing,the other love of her life,with acting. She credits him as the inspiration behind her newly minted singing career.
“The first time I ever sang on stage was at the age of three. My dad organised a musical event at the Army Wives Association charity function. I sang an African nursery rhyme,which my nana (maternal grandfather) taught me. I sang the vowels A-E-I-O-U on stage and everybody clapped, she laughs.
The 31-year-old actor-singer is upbeat about her latest single,Exotic,where she has collaborated with rapper Pitbull.
“The song got three million hits in three days. I’m overwhelmed. Ive been working on the album,In My City,for two and a half years. This is new turf for me. Since I’m a creative person I like to try different things all the time. Sometimes I fail and sometimes I succeed,but that’s the way I roll. With this album I wanted to show the world that India is a lot more than just a country of snake charmers and elephants,” she says.
The idea behind Exotic came from international music producer RedOne who has worked with the likes of Jennifer Lopez,Lady Gaga and Cher.
“RedOne was looking for a word to describe me and he came up with Exotic. He wrote the song and then I added some Hindi lines because I felt the music piece was a bit incomplete, she says.
While Exotic is climbing the charts,it has got its fair share of criticism especially in the form of internet trolling.
Priayanka Chopra has come in for criticism for her Jennifer Lopez hangover,particularly with regards the nude coloured shimmer outfit she sports in the music video.
Priyanka dismisses it with a,”I dont want to be known as a ‘me too.’ It was never my intention to look like anyone. There are six other outfits that Ive worn,which nobody has worn before,but everyone is just picking on this one. Infact,this outfit was a last minute thing. When Pitbull came in,he wanted another change and we had run out of options,so my designer just put it together. I dont like to copy anyone but I guess people have a tendency to pick out the negatives even if this outfit comes in for just 10 seconds in the video.”
With social media and oversharing at its peak,celebrities have to learn to take criticism on the chin. Priyanka Chopra,who has a huge twitter presence,is aware of it but she admits it’s not easy to take the hate.
“Im aware that I put myself out there to be judged because I hardly stick to the norm. The extreme reactions are a price you pay for being open and creative. We just have to learn to live with it,” she says.
It’s a powerpacked year for her. Priyanka Chopra has four releases lined up DisneyToon Studios Planes (which is a spin off of Pixars Cars and where Priyanka Chopra has voiced the character of an aircraft called Ishani),Zanjeer,Krrish 3 and Gunday.
Quiz her on how she packs it all in and she says,”I want to try my hand at everything. I’m not a dreamer. Im a realist. I believe if you work hard today then your tomorrow is taken care of. I never thought I would be an actress. I wanted to be an engineer but when I grew to love acting,I gave it my all,” she says.