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Why Priyanka Chopra is India’s first and only global movie star

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In February 2015, when Priyanka Chopra signed on to star in the ABC thriller Quantico, she was at the peak of her career at home. A few months ago, she starred in the critically and commercially successful Mary Kom, and two more hits, “Dil Dhadakne Do” and “Bajirao Mastani,” will be released in the coming months. Despite this, Priyanka decided to virtually pack her bags from Mumbai in 2016 and head to Hollywood, which was criticized by many. After all, many Indian actors have tried and almost all have failed. But Priyanka didn’t. She has not only managed to carve out a niche for herself in Hollywood, but has increasingly established her presence as India’s first truly global star. Also read: Joe Russo shares details about Priyanka Chopra’s Citadel

Priyanka turns 40 on Monday. At any other time, this would mean the beginning of the end of the Indian heroine’s career. But one look at Priyanka’s upcoming projects shows she may just be getting started. She stars in the ambitious Amazon Prime Video sci-fi series The Citadel as well as the hit romance drama Everything Comes Back to Me. These are not episodic roles, as was the case with some of her previous roles. And this is not a small business either. So how did Priyanka end up here in just seven years? To understand this, we first need to take a look at what Indian actors have to deal with in Hollywood.

Apart from Priyanka, Indian actors in the West can basically be divided into two categories: stars who occasionally appeared in episodes or tried to break onto the stage as the main characters, and character actors who were often seen but almost never played the main roles. Examples of the former include Amitabh Bachchan (The Great Gatsby), Rajinikanth (Bloodstone) or Dhanusha (Grey Man). And there is no shortage of examples of the latter, from Om Puri and Amrish Puri to Naseeruddin Shah and Kabir Bedi. Two actors who received wide acclaim in Hollywood were Aishwarya Rai and Irrfan Khan. But Priyanka was ahead of any of them.

Aishwarya’s Hollywood career began with a crossover in Bride and Prejudice, and her biggest role was as an antagonist in The Pink Panther 2. Not entirely bad, but nothing special. Priyanka has already surpassed the older one in many ways. First, Aishwarya has never worked on something like The Matrix Resurrections or The Citadel. And she’s also never been the face of a popular title like Quantico. Irfan, of course, managed to achieve the first more often than Priyanka. He’s been on Jurassic, The Amazing Spider-Man, and even more prominently on Life of Pi. But where Priyanka is ahead of even Irrfan’s stellar career in the West is The Citadel.

Priyanka Chopra to star in Amazon Prime Video mega series.

For the uninitiated, The Citadel is a massive sci-fi show produced by Amazon Prime Video, with a budget per episode larger than even Game of Thrones. And Thrones’ Robb Stark, Richard Madden, co-stars with Priyanka. This is truly a global show and she is the face of it. No Indian actor has ever worked in such a big project playing such a big role. In terms of worldwide recognition and performance, she is clearly the first Indian global star.

And Priyanka needs to be applauded for the path she has chosen here. It’s easy for character actors to work in Hollywood. In fact, they play the same roles there, only in larger films. But the stars are different. Indian stars are wary of playing second fiddle to international actors in the West while they rule here. Priyanka had no such compunctions, and that is what paved the way for her to where she is now – when she does not have to play second fiddle, when the creators of “The Matrix Resurrections” declare her a star, although she has a 10-minute role. It’s simply because Priyanka Chopra is for sale today.

Before her, many were given the opportunity to transfer. Dilip Kumar famously turned down a supporting role in Lawrence of Arabia, which subsequently made Omar Sharif’s name famous in the West. Reports say that Amitabh Bachchan could not be persuaded to work for Passage to India because his fee was then too high. More recently, Ajay Devgn decided not to spend a year in the US for a supporting role in The Expendables, and Deepika Padukone decided to focus on Happy New Year instead of signing on Fast & Furious 7. All of these actors made safe choices. They were at the height of their careers when a major Hollywood movie came to them, but they stayed in Bollywood. Also read: Priyanka Chopra asked to choose between Bollywood and Hollywood. See her answer

Priyanka, on the other hand, took more risks when she started her journey with a network TV show and then as a villain in Baywatch. It is her penchant for taking risks that sets her apart from other Indian actors before. Many argue that the roles at home have dried up, and so she left for Hollywood. Whatever the reason, Priyanka succeeded because she tried. She left her safe nest, which many other Indian stars are hesitant to do. And it’s time to give her credit for this amazing journey.


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