'Despite all the work I have done, (abroad) I am still faced with stereotypes of India, like they tell me, 'You speak really great English for an Indian.''
'I was told when I first started the shoot, 'Have a little bit more of an Indian accent'. I said, 'This is an Indian accent. We don't talk like Apu in The Simpsons.''
'I hate that they put us in that box -- that we only eat Indian curry, we are all about henna and bindi... We are so much more than that.'
Priyanka Chopra on stereotypes, movies and more.
Priyanka Chopra has her finger in many pies -- making movies, belting out singles, and taking centrestage in a prime-time American show.
She says she does not have any holiday this year, not even on Sundays.
But even though she admits she's 'physically tired,' she's enjoying the phase.
Her new film Dil Dhadhakne Do is coming up for release on Friday, June 5.
Priyanka talks about her exciting career, as Patcy N/ Rediff.com takes notes.
What issues are being tackled Dil Dhadakne Do?
Families that live together often forget to talk to each other.
They are mostly worried by 'what will people think'. They worry about society pressure and conform to social stereotypes.
The boy has to run the father's business even if the girl is better at it than the boy.
The girl's job is to make babies. Even if she is not happy with her marriage, she has to stick to it.
Instead of solving your household problems, you are partying to make you feel everything is okay.
We have addressed these important issues, wrapped in the beautiful packaging of a holiday. I think that is smart cinema.
It's an entertaining film for the entire family. You won't find the film preachy but you will go back thinking.
Have you seen dysfunctional families like this?
All our families are like this.
It is very easy to say that my family is not like this but all our families have been affected in some way or the other.
Dil Dhadakne Do is about a cruise; how was the whole experience?
I am a water baby. If you take me out of my house, you have to put me near the ocean.
So this was my dream film. It's a secret that half the reason all of us did the film was because we were going to be in the Mediterranean Sea, on a cruise.
My last holiday three years ago was on my birthday. I did exactly the same thing -- I rented a boat for me and my friends and we cruised the Mediterranean.
So I knew what I was getting into. I knew how beautiful it was.
The weather was perfect, the water was cool, the cities were beautiful, the food was amazing, and the ship was great.
How long were you on the cruise?
But I had to travel back and forth for the promotions of Mary Kom.
Did it take much to convince you to do the film?
I loved the script. I am very instinctive when I am choosing my films.
For me, the story has to be good because if the film works then you work.
Ayesha (the character that she plays) is very strong.
I like to do very different characters. I play a very feminine and gentle character in this film, just after (the tough character in)Mary Kom, so it was a bit confusing for me.
At the same time, my character has inner strength. Her dynamics with her father, mother, brother, husband and boyfriend is very interesting.
There are so many things that happen to her in the 10 days they are holidaying. That was interesting for me to play.
How is your relationship with your parents and brother?
I am very close to my family, not just my immediate family but my whole khandaan.
We are Punjabis; we move in packs, just like wolves.
Wherever I go, somebody will always be with me.
My mother knows everything about my life, we have a very friendly relationship. We don't judge each other. She is an over-achiever; she is a double PhD and a pilot.
She does so many things. I have learnt from her to do a lot of things.
My father was very kind, compassionate and gentle. I tried to imbibe those things from him.
My brother is younger so I just bully him, which I think is the right of all elder siblings!
After Dil Dhadakne Do, you will be doing Bajirao Mastaani and then there is Quantico. Your characters are very different in all three. Was that difficult?
It was very easy because when you wear the costume and walk onto the set, the environment changes and you change as a character.
I do a lot of work on my character before I start a film.
What's tough is the number of hours you put into it.
I am lucky to have such amazing films lined up like Dil Dhadakne, Bajirao Mastaani, Gangaajal and then Quantico, a series I hope people will like.
I think I am getting a bit tired physically, but mentally I am ready to go.
Don't you want to take a break?
I don't have time for a break for a year; I don't have time even on Sunday.
I take my break having cupcakes, sitting with you all and having conversations.
But it is okay; it is the life that I have chosen and the life I love.
I think having so much work and no time is a good problem; the worry would be if there was no work.
Last night, I packed up at 4 am but I had to be here in the morning for interviews, so I have to adjust.
How do you prepare for your roles?
I am a very spontaneous actor, unless, of course, it is Mary Kom, or Don, or something which requires training like for Quantico.
Otherwise, I don't think too much about the character I play until I get on the sets. When I am in my costume, then I talk to my director.
I know the scene, I know the dialogues, but I get into the character just before the shot.
I do readings for all the films, I prepare for what kind of person I am playing, but I don't know till I am on the sets.
While shooting, one gets in and out of the character between action and cut. One can't prepare enough.
Nobody taught me the process of acting; I learnt it on my own so this is the way I do it.
You became a celebrity very young. Does the media attention bother you?
I was just 17 when I became famous. Suddenly, from Army School Bareilly (in Uttar Pradesh), I was Miss World.
It would have surely gone to my head, but my parents were strict with me.
My dad's only rule was that if I was allowed to pursue my dreams, my mother would always be with me.
So my mother left her practice as a doctor to accompany me everywhere because I was so young.
When I started acting, I was hardly 18 or 19.
When you are in your teens you don't want your parents to be with you all the time…
I was very scared so I was happy that my mother was with me.
My mother is not like the overbearing heroine ki mummy. She is educated and elegant. She will be there, but doing her own thing.
I was not aware how films were made; it was all so new so I was happy to have my mother by my side.
She doesn't tell me what to do and what not to do. We discuss things as adults.
Ever since I was a child my parents have raised me as a thinking person. I was always given options -- these are the pros and cons it is your decision what you want to do.
When I decided to go to America for my studies, I was just 12, but we sat and discussed it.
What was your experience of Quantico?
The series will start in September. After finishing Gangaajal, I will go to America and start shooting it and will keep coming back to shoot for Bajirao as I have a lot of work to finish.
I am very nervous. I will never say this in America; over there I will speak confidently.
But, honestly, I am nervous because I am working in a TV show, and I play the lead.
I don't think any Indian actress has played the lead before (in an American TV show) and that is making me nervous.
Despite all the work I have done, I am still faced with stereotypes of India, like they tell me, 'You speak really great English for an Indian.'
I tell them that most Indians speak English and our population is so huge that more of us speak English than the population of America.
I was told when I first started the shoot, 'Have a little bit more of an Indian accent'. I said, 'This is an Indian accent. We don't talk like Apu in The Simpsons.'
I hate that they put us in that box -- that we only eat Indian curry, we are all about henna and bindi... We are so much more than that.
When ABC started talking to me about this deal, I wanted to be taken seriously as an actor and that should have nothing to do with my ethnicity.
I want to be ethnically ambiguous. I am half Indian and half American in the show, but the fact that I am Indian has nothing to do with what is happening in the story. I am not doing a big fat Punjabi family show.
It is really difficult to fight this stereotype. For me this was a win. Thankfully, people liked the trailer.
I hope Quantico opens up a lot more doors for Indian talent, not just actors but other artists too.
If we are successful, we will do season 2 and half of the year I will shoot for that.
Quantico will be aired in India; in fact, it will be aired in 180 countries. ABC had to do that because of the craze for Indian cinema and I come with the might of that cinema.
Any plans of signing a Hollywood film?
If something interesting comes along, I will take it.
I have some interesting Hindi films coming my way and I don't want to not do them.
After Quantico, I have one more Indian film that I am going to sign.
I am very greedy about my work.
What about the music front?
It's horrible. I am so stretched right now that I don't have time to go to the studio, though I have worked on an amazing track.
It is again collaboration with a famous American rapper and DJ, but on his album. I can't talk about it till they release it.
I am doing whatever songs I can, like I did the Dil Dhadakne Dosongs.
Do you have a good script for your production house?
There are a few ideas I like. We are developing them and that takes time because I am all over the place.
We haven't locked any script and I don't want to just do anything.
The only film I was doing was Madamji but that too I had to put on hold as too many things were happening.
Under Purple Pebble Pictures we are just developing. We are doing a lot of commercials.
I want to start with small films, but I really want to be sure of what I am doing and that's why we are not going forward.