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In a biography Priyanka Chopra – The Incredible Story of a Global Bollywood Star, Aseem Chhabra, India’s leading film journalist attempts to find some answers to her success.
Priyanka Chopra is everywhere. She is on billboards, posters, magazine covers, newspapers, TV, movies, radio and social media. She is followed closely by the paparazzi who capture her every move. We think we know all about her. But the truth remains that we don’t.
Priyanka Chopra comes across as an approachable and relatable celebrity. Yet, she remains an enigma…a mystery of sorts! Even to the ones who she keeps close. She’s always surprising people with a new facet of her personality – beauty queen, model, actress, singer, film producer and philanthropist. Life seems to be taking her to places that no one has ever been before. There is always something extraordinary happening in her life. It seems like she´s destiny’s favourite child.
But, does her success and fame due to mere destiny or luck alone?
The book opens with a question that was posed to Aseem, “Does Priyanka Chopra deserve a book?”
Having lived in the US for a long time, Aseem knew how hard it was for an outsider to break into Hollywood and the subconscious minds and hearts of the American people. America is a country which is inward looking and couldn’t care less about the happenings in other parts of the world! So, when Priyanka Chopra bagged the lead role in a prime time American television show, Aseem’s interest in her perked and he ventured to know the person behind India’s global phenomenon.
From childhood, Priyanka lead a nomadic lifestyle moving to different cities, schools and making new friends, as a teenager. She says,
“Shifting schools often meant I could be as naughty at school as I wanted to be because I knew that I’d be somewhere else soon. But more importantly, I welcomed it as a new experience. I think that’s what made me adaptable, which helps me even today.”
Her comeback to India and adjusting in a small town like Bareilly, the turning points in her life as Miss India and Miss World in 2000, her initial struggle years as an actress beginning with her debut movie in Tamil, Tamizhan (2002) to becoming an A-lister in Bollywoodand finally, her gutsy crossover to Hollywood to start all over again from the scratch are discussed in great depth.
The book ends on a cliffhanger as Aseem tracks Priyanka’s journey until early this year, just around the announcement of the termination of Quantico.
I read the book at one go which says a lot about Aseem’s incisive narrative and Priyanka’s phenomenal personality. Even though I am clued into the inside stories of Bollywood, this biography came as a revelation. One of the chapters that I found intriguing was the one focussed on Anjula Acharya, the brain behind Priyanka´s Hollywood crossover, as it connected many missing dots for me.
Aseem simply presents the facts as they stand, touching upon several pertinent issues through her life. Her childhood spent away from a mother committed to her career, being brought up by grandparents in her early years, and her coming into the limelight with the beauty pageant despite the prejudice she faced due to her dark skin, to her journey as an actor fighting discrimination in our own country and then in Hollywood, setting up her own production company Purple Pebbles Pictures – the fact is that Priyanka Chopra is one trailblazing wonder woman. Love her or hate her, you cannot deny her power. I was left in awe by the time I put the book down.
I’d like to note here that as a feminist making her own way in an unequal world, she had to face social hypocrisies – like when she met Prime Minister Modi in Berlin wearing a summer dress, she invited the wrath of conservatives in the country for her attire. Instead of cowing down, Priyanka retorted with a picture of her mother and her chilling out at a club and flaunting their legs unapologetically. This was her way of saying that I will do what I want with my life and I don’t need your approval for it.
Read this book to know more about the Priyanka who shows the world a tough exterior with her work ethics and speaking up against nonsense thrown at her, but has a tender vulnerability inside, that makes her very, very human.
So coming back to the earlier question, does Priyanka Chopra’s success have to do with mere luck?
After reading Priyanka Chopra’s story through Aseem Chhabra’s eyes, I find the answer in the following adage which is a testimony of Priyanka’s success.
“The harder I work, the luckier I get.”
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Top image via YouTube and book cover via Amazon
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Winner of the Rashtriya Gaurav Award (2019) in association with the Government of Telangana for ‘
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