At any point in time, Priyanka Chopra is always doing multiple things. At present, her latest Hollywood film Isn’t It Romantic has just released on Netflix, her movie The Sky Is Pink just got an October release date, and she’s writing her memoir. Chopra says she has many other announcements that she’s about to make soon, other than the one she recently made on The Ellen Show about playing Ma Anand Sheela in a film about spiritual guru Rajneesh Osho. Over a quick phone conversation, she speaks about juggling her various work commitments. Excerpts:
In Isn’t It Romantic you play the beautiful girl in an over-the-top romantic comedy and there’s also a dance number in the end. Did you have a moment where you thought ‘I finally get to put my Hindi film training to good use in Hollywood’?
I didn’t think of it that way. I thought of it like I brought Bollywood to Hollywood! My cast mates used to come and tell me that I literally do this for a profession so it’s not fair that I have an edge over them. They thought I’m a pro because I could get my steps in 3 minutes because that’s what I actually do. I had a great time doing both the music numbers, even the karaoke sequence.
When you first started working in America you had said the hardest part is to educate people on what you’re capable of and not put you in a box. Have these professional conversations become much easier now?
I mean… yes. I have to say that I have reached a point where, if I may say so myself, I’ve become some part of mainstream pop culture where people sort of know me and are aware of me when I walk into a party or go into a room. If I go into a meeting, they know the work that I’ve done and that was different when I first started working in America. I had to introduce myself and I had no problem doing that. I’m not someone who is entitled to believe that if I’m a big star in India means everyone in the world should know me. But that’s changed now.
They know my work now and that helps people in understanding that I am not someone who can be fitted into a box. I will not allow for it. I don’t know what my box is anymore. Everyone kept trying to find one for me but I don’t think that my shape is something that will fit into a box. It’s scary when you’re always walking on unchartered territory where no one else has gone before… Especially to be in a new country after the kind of success, by God’s grace, I had in India. It was also scary living by myself in a new country, I didn’t have my friends and family around. It’s really gratifying now that when I walk into a room, people come up to me and talk about my work and congratulate me on what I’m about to do next.
You recently made an exciting announcement about playing Ma Anand Sheela in the film version of Wild Wild Country. What can you tell us about it? Did you see the docu and say ‘I want to play this woman’?
No, so that’s not how it went. I’m producing a bunch of things. This movie is one of them. It’s more in development, it’s really, really far away right now. And it’s not something I came up with. I loved the documentary. In fact, I was developing it with someone else at some point because I was very excited about the story. But this movie came to me from Barry Levinson who is the director of the movie. He and his producers have been developing it for the last 4-5 years so he approached me to develop it with them. I’m doing two other things. I just don’t want to talk about it …I was being pressed on the show (The Ellen Show) to talk about something that I was doing that I ended up mentioning this but it’s really far away and there are a few other things that I’m developing here and in the US. I’m writing a book and working on a TV show… It will all unravel in time.
How do you manage to write? You once said that you’re in a permanent state of exhaustion. On Instagram we see you in a new country every other day.
I take out like 10 -10 days. I couldn’t do it before January because there was a lot going on. I have my manuscript due at some point this year so I had to take the time out to start writing. It’s a really cathartic process. The way I see it is that people get lazy when they say they don’t have the time to do something. Time is what you make. If you want to achieve something, you will find the time to get it. If you want to find that new dress to wear to a party you will find a way to buy it. In the same way if I want to write a memoir that’s worth people reading I will make sure I find the time for it. It’s mind over matter and the mind is a very powerful thing. We have no idea what we are capable of until we keep pushing ourselves.