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Journalism of Courage

Priyanka Chopra says she was called ‘black cat, dusky’ in Bollywood: ‘Even when I was bit more talented than my lighter-skinned co-actors’

In a recent interview, Priyanka Chopra also opened up about the pay disparity and deep-rooted patriarchy in Bollywood, and how she dealt with it.

Priyanka Chopra spoke about being body-shamed in Bollywood. (Photo: Kareena Kapoor Khan FC/Twitter)
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Global star Priyanka Chopra, recently spoke about the pay disparity and body-shaming in Bollywood, sharing that she wouldn’t even get paid 10 percent on what her male co-stars got. In an interview, the actor shared that her generation of female actors definitely asked for an equal pay but they never got it.

“It [the pay gap] is large, substantially large. And so many women still deal with that. I’m sure I will too if I worked with a male co-actor now in Bollywood,” she told BBC. The interview was part of BBC’s ‘100 Women’ list of influential figures of the year, and Priyanka is one of the four Indians to feature on the list.

She also opened up about how as a young actor in the industry, she accepted the deep-rooted patriarchy as something normal. Priyanka said, “I thought it was absolutely okay to sit for hours and hours on set, while my male co-actor just took his own time, and decided whenever he wanted to show up on set is when we would shoot.”

The actor entered Bollywood after winning Miss India in 2000. She made her debut with The Hero opposite Sunny Deol in 2002, and followed it up with Andaaz and Aitraaz with Akshay Kumar, Mujhse Shaadi Karoge with Salman Khan and Akshay. After giving hits like Don with Shah Rukh Khan and Krrish with Hrithik Roshan, the actor established herself in the industry, and even went on to get a National Award for Madhur Bhandarkar’s Fashion. She has also given award-winning performances in films like Barrfi, 7 Khoon Maaf, Mary Kom, and Bajirao Mastani, among others.


However, as per the actor, she did not have it easy, as she was subjected to body shaming for her complexion. In the same interview, Priyanka Chopra said, “I was called ‘black cat’, ‘dusky’. I mean, what does ‘dusky’ even mean in a country where we are literally all are brown? I thought I was not pretty enough, I believed that I would have to work a lot harder, even though I thought I was probably a little bit more talented than my fellow actors who were lighter skinned. But I thought that was right because it was so normalised.”

Sharing more about her struggle of finding a footing in Hollywood, Priyanka shared how she would go for meetings, introduce herself and even take her show-reel. She would cry after getting rejected at auditions but yet carried on. “I did the hustle that I needed to do to make it in any new industry. It was a humbling experience,” she mentioned.

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After moving base to America, Priyanka became the first South Asian to lead a show, Quantico in 2015. The actor is now well-settled in the states, having a family with husband Nick Jonas and their daughter Malti Marie Chopra Jonas.

First published on: 07-12-2022 at 11:57 IST
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