Why Priyanka Chopra is India’s First and Only Global Movie Star


Why Priyanka Chopra is India's First and Only Global Movie Star

When Priyanka Chopra signed on to star in the ABC thriller series Quantico in February 2015, she was at the peak of her career back home. A few months ago, she starred in the critically and commercially successful film Mary Kom, and two more hits are set to be released in the coming months – Dil Dhadakne Do and Bajirao Mastani. Nonetheless, in 2016 Priyanka opted to virtually pack her bags from Mumbai and head to Hollywood, a move that drew criticism from many. After all, many Indian actors had tried and almost all had failed. But Priyanka didn’t. Not only did she carve out a niche for herself in Hollywood, but she steadily increased 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 have been the beginning of the end of an Indian heroine’s career. But one look at Priyanka’s upcoming projects suggests she might just be getting started. She is the lead in Amazon Prime Video’s ambitious sci-fi series Citadel and also a mainstream romantic drama in It’s All Coming Back to Me. These are not supporting roles as some of her previous roles have been. And these are not small productions either. How did Priyanka get here in just seven years? To understand this, we must first look at the landscape that Indian actors deal with in Hollywood.

Aside from Priyanka, Indian actors in the West can largely be divided into two categories – stars who made occasional cameos or attempted to break into the scene as leading actors, and character actors who were often but rarely cast in leading roles. Examples of the former are Amitabh Bachchan (The Great Gatsby), Rajinikanth (Bloodstone) or Dhanush (The Gray 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 enduring mainstream recognition in Hollywood were Aishwarya Rai and Irrfan Khan. But Priyanka has forestalled any of them.

Aishwarya’s Hollywood career began with a crossover film in Bride and Prejudice, and her biggest role was as the antagonist in Pink Panther 2. Not entirely unsuccessful, but nothing special. Priyanka has already outperformed her senior in more ways than one. For one thing, Aishwarya has never worked in anything on the scale of The Matrix Resurrections or Citadel. Nor has she ever been the face of a mainstream title like Quantico. Irrfan was of course able to get the first one, more often than Priyanka. He’s been in the Jurassic series, The Amazing Spider-Man, and even in a more significant role in Life of Pi. But where Priyanka fuels even Irrfan’s stellar career in the West is in Citadel.

Priyanka Chopra stars in Amazon Prime Video’s mega series.

For the uninitiated, Citadel is a massive and massive sci-fi show produced by Amazon Prime Video, with a per-episode budget bigger than even Game of Thrones. And Robb Stark of Thrones, Richard Madden, stars in it along with Priyanka. It’s truly a global show and she’s the face of it. No Indian actor has ever worked in such a big project and played such a big role. In terms of global exposure and work, she is clearly the first Indian world star.

And Priyanka needs to be applauded for the path she’s taken here. It’s easy for character actors to work in Hollywood. They play essentially the same roles there, only in bigger films. But it’s different with stars. Indian stars are wary of playing second fiddle to international actors in the West while they reign supreme here. Priyanka had no such qualms, and that’s paved the way for her to get to where she is now — if she doesn’t have to play second fiddle to The Matrix Resurrections creators calling her a star, despite having one 10 minutes -Role. That’s simply because Priyanka Chopra is selling today.

Before her, many had had the opportunity to cross. Dilip Kumar famously turned down a supporting role in Lawrence of Arabia, which made Omar Sharif a household name in the West. According to reports, Amitabh Bachchan could not be persuaded to work at Passage to India as his fee was too high at the time. More recently, Ajay Devgn chose not to spend a year in the US for a supporting role in The Expendables, and Deepika Padukone chose to focus on Happy New Years instead of signing Fast and Furious 7. All of these actors made safe choices. They were at the peak of their careers when a big Hollywood movie came their way, but they stayed in Bollywood. Also read: Priyanka Chopra asked to choose between Bollywood and Hollywood. Pay attention to her answer

Priyanka, on the other hand, took a bigger risk when she began her journey with a network TV show and then as a villain in Baywatch. It is her ability to take risks that sets her apart from the other Indian actors before. Many argue that the roles dried up at home, and therefore she went to Hollywood. Whatever the reason, Priyanka was successful because she tried. She has left her safety net while many other Indian stars have hesitated. And it’s high time to give her the respect she deserves for this amazing journey.

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