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Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People: Is Priyanka Chopra the real deal?

My Big Plunge : TIME 100 Most Influential People feat. Priyanka Chopra


Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People: Is Priyanka Chopra the real deal?

Priyanka Chopra has taken the world by storm. By the world, I mean the USA and Hollywood of course and by storm, I mean a media storm.

From American television to the Oscars she is everywhere, and now she is on the Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People List as well, sharing space with noted fellow Indians such as tennis player Sania Mirza and Google CEO Sundar Pichai among others. When you consider that even the Indian Prime Minister Mr. Narendra Modi was a contender to this list but did not make it, you cannot but deny the enigma that Miss Chopra, has become to the western world. They are all deserving, but many deserve more.

This is not the first time that a former beauty queen from India is taking Hollywood by surprise. Years ago, former Miss World, Aishwarya Rai charmed Hollywood with her beauty and grace and landed a few film offers. However, her career never really took off with the focus remaining mostly on her exotic looks and Cannes’ red carpet appearances.

Priyanka Chopra’s rise in America though has been quick and meteoric. From starring as the main lead in an American television series, Quantico, to bagging a meaty role in the movie adaptation of Baywatch there seems to be no stopping PeeCee. Even the Oscars, an event Chopra would be least expected to attend at this nascent point in her Hollywood career saw her presenting an Oscar for the Best Editing in a film alongside Liev Schreiber.

The fact that she won the People’s Choice Awards for Best Actress in a New TV Series beating the likes of Emma Roberts and Lea Michele has taken the big Hollywood guns aback. As America wakes up to the enormous market potential that South Asia is, it also wakes up to the mass appeal and star power that is Priyanka Chopra, who can sing, dance and act (“triple threat” as she calls herself) and be very unapologetic about the fact that she wants it all.

So what gives Priyanka Chopra this confidence? An excellent PR team? Or the knowledge of her appeal to the Bollywood worshipping NRI crowd in the USA who are simply delighted at seeing a familiar face from “back home” taking over TV in America?


Under all the chest thumping quotes and glamour that is Priyanka Chopra it is easy to overlook how clever, competitive and a bold risk taker the woman truly is. From being determined to win the Miss World crown at 17 to winning hot wings eating contest at the Jimmy Fallon’s Tonight show at 32, Priyanka Chopra is all about the achiever’s drive. Her career too has been a string of films that have become bolder over the years. At a pivotal point in her career, she did Madhur Bhandarkar’s Fashion a risky move that could have dented her career. She landed a National Film Award instead. Saat Khoon Maaf, a film by Vishal Bharadwaj that saw her portraying a serial murderer with seven husbands, was a role many Bollywood heroines would be reluctant to do. Over the years, she has gradually begun to take up roles that keep her as the central focus of a movie. No piggybacking on the Khans anymore but becoming a single force to reckon with. Mary Kom had its representation problems but the fact that Chopra worked hard at her fitness and totally transformed her body was not lost on people. With Bajirao Mastani, she again played the risky role of the older, other women to Deepika Padukone who is the current toast of Bollywood and yet managed to steal the show from right under. And now Prakash Jha’s Jai Gangajal is to hit theatres soon with Chopra playing a hard hitting, crime fighting cop in sub-rural India. Drama, action, sport, romance, period- you ask it, and Priyanka Chopra has done it all and done it well. Add to it a singing career with studio albums being released worldwide and collaborations with the likes of Pitbull, a bag full of awards and successful endorsements she has a formidable resume that she took all the way to Hollywood that could not but be impressed. Recently she was in the news for evening the prestigious Padma Shri

So is she indeed changing how Hollywood sees Indian actresses?

Pryanka Chopra’s appeal to the masses in America lies in the fact that she speaks their language to a large extent. Having spent a substantial amount of her formative year’s schooling in the USA, she knows how things work in America. As was evident during her interview on Jimmy Kimmel’s show she is perfectly in tune with everything American in a nonchalant and non-contrived kind of way that certainly sits well with the American audience. And, in spite of her brown skin, she refuses to exoticise herself. As she has herself stated in many interviews, when it came to Quantico she pushed for her role to be as less stereotypical as possible and only half-Indian in origin, given the content of the show and her character. What strikes though is that she does not seem to be looking for Western validation in her appearances. She is confident and incredibly self-assured about her star power, and her Hollywood contemporaries cannot but become aware of the tremendous influence she wields over masses back home as well as the noticeable NRI crowd in the USA.

When it comes to playing her cards right, Priyanka Chopra has the acute understanding of business and is focused on building a particular image. Even her Oscar appearance in a simple strapless white gown and tied hair, minimalist look and moved away from any exotic drama was a silent message to Hollywood. “Here I am, and I won’t be typecast.” She wore the Event at the event and was so appropriately dressed that she landed every other Best Dressed list in America itself, sending Google searches in India in a frenzy.

Only time will tell how much Priyanka Chopra has changed things for Indian actresses in Hollywood. But thanks to her sudden influence, visibility and power, Hollywood is most certainly sitting up and taking notice. As another Bollywood star makes her foray into Hollywood in a popular franchise, we might see a slow trickle of heroines crossing that great divide to the elusive but coveted Hollywood’s red carpet. But will anybody be able to achieve as much as Priyanka Chopra did, in such a short while? Will anyone else be able to get Dwayne Johnson a.k.a. The Rock sing praises for them?

We can only wait and watch.

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