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Priyanka: Did Quantico to break Indian stereotypes in American culture

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Posted: 12 May 2015 at 2:48pm | IP Logged
I did Quantico to break Indian stereotypes in American culture
Priyanka Chopra talks about headlining an American TV show

Tushar Joshi
DNA
May 13, 2015


Priyanka Chopra is excited and equally nervous about being the lead in ABC's Quantico " a thriller television series about a group of FBI recruits. The show has been picked up for the 2015-16 TV season and PC says she is in uncharted territory'. In an exclusive chat between finishing her many commitments before flying off to LA, she talks to me about being a global icon' and why she was clear on not playing a stereotypical Indian on the show. Here are excerpts from our chat...

You didn't get Quantico the traditional way, there was no audition, how did the show come to you ?

For me, it was very different. Most actors audition for a lot of shows. But for me, I had done a special deal with ABC, they scout talent around the world. So, when Kelly Lee, who is in casting, came down, I was shooting Gunday. She said they wanted to do a development deal where they find the right show for me. They had done similar deals with Sofia Vergara, Eva Longoria and a few other actresses, where they find the right show for that talent. So then I had to go to LA and read the 25 pilots that they had picked for me, tell them the ones I liked, which was around three or four scripts. If it ends up working for everyone from writers, directors and the creative team, you end up doing it. So I am happy that I got my first pick which was Quantico!

Is it true you had a clause stating you wouldn't play an Indian on the show?

Interestingly, Quantico was written for an all-American girl, a white girl. So they tweaked the story. My ethnicity on the show is half Indian-half Caucasian. You know I went to school in America, I grew up there, and all the Indian characters that I saw on American shows are stereotypes and talk like Apu from The Simpsons, who I hate because growing up, everyone would ask me How come you don't talk like Apu?'. It used to piss me off. My basis with ABC was that I want to do an ethnically ambiguous part, and that's the only way I would do it. I didn't want to do a big fat Indian Punjabi family, that's so expected from a Bollywood actress. I had clearly told them that if you want to treat me like an actress and not a Bollywood' jewel, where am supposed to dance and do those things, then I am fine. Which is why the parts they chose for me and scripts I read were for characters that are ethnically ambiguous.

You already have an accent. Is that something you have retained on the show ?

I have never played an FBI agent. In fact, you will hear me speak in a more American accent than the one that I already have! Because to be a FBI agent, you need to be an American citizen, so it was very important for me to get that right. I had dialect coaching to sound even more American and how much I have laughed! Because I told them in India anyway people think I have an accent, now with Quantico, that's on some other level. But as an actor you do it, like when I did Kaminey, I sounded so Maharashtrian. For Jhilmil, I had to change my voice completely.

Tell us about the way American media looks at Indian actors.

They see me as a person from another land. They don't understand the concept of how I have the fan following that I do. Which I find amazing, because the world has become this one big global family. I hope to be that change for India, where people don't just see us as Patel stores, and curry shops and everything that's typical. It's a great shift for Indian actors, or even what Anil sir has done with 24 and now Family Guy. I remember, when I was growing up, I didn't see anyone who looked like me in global pop culture. In today's time, Rihanna is from the Islands, David Guetta is from Sweden " today's pop culture reflects global diversity and I want to be part of that.

What is your biggest fear playing the lead in Quantico?

It's very scary, because I don't know if the world is ready for an Indian protagonist. When I did NFL, and In My City (her debut single) was picked for NFL, it was the opening song after Faith Hill. Several racist comments came my way, that I am an Arab terrorist. On social media and the NFL network they had people writing to them. Because I was brown, they figured I'm Arab, and people were like How can you have her headlining an American event? Why is she in an all-American sport?' So, I don't know how people will react especially since I'm playing an American from India! But it's a great part and a great show, it could be really cool.

What are your favourite American TV shows?

I am obsessed with CSI, SVU, Dexter. I also like Grey's Anatomy and all of that. I watch a lot of TV, I prefer watching TV shows over a long film. My mother is obsessed with her murder fix at night, so I end up watching one episode with her during dinner. Now she's damn happy that I am going to be her murder fix with Quantico (laughs). I am excited, nervous, it's uncharted territory. When you don't have a precedent it freaks you out.


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Posted: 12 May 2015 at 3:17pm | IP Logged
She never had an American accent.  Just because you don't sound like Abu from the Simpsons doesn't mean you automatically have an American accent.  Her accent has always been Indian.  As it is, she doesn't sound like a natural American in this show either.  Her speech pattern and flow is not natural, but she's trying really hard so good for her in that regard.

And I would have appreciated her attempt at fighting racism much more if she hadn't agreed to special make up and prosthetics to make herself look like Mary Kom.  I'm sure there are a lot of talented Indian artists with similar features to Mary Kom.  

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Posted: 12 May 2015 at 3:18pm | IP Logged
I am proud of this girl she got an American tv show major role. The best thing about it is that she is not playing an Indian who has 2 minute role with Indian accent. There is nothing wrong with having an accent. But the way they always show Indian people is just stupid.

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Posted: 12 May 2015 at 6:32pm | IP Logged
Haven't read it, but I am proud of PC Approve

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Posted: 12 May 2015 at 10:50pm | IP Logged
Her accent was not that bad in the trailer. She sounds to have mix accent i.e. Indian and American. More towards American accent. And here many people have this kind of accent if they have grown up in India (until early teenage) and then came to usa or if they were born in usa but were grown up in India and then came back to usa. So, it's pretty normal to have this accent. 
Hopefully, show will rock. I enjoyed the trailer. The only thing I am worried about is if they have released everything on trailer because then there will be no mystery to keep on going for the show. 


Edited by HiFie - 12 May 2015 at 10:56pm

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Posted: 12 May 2015 at 11:15pm | IP Logged
Americans dont care for Indians or people of any other nationality apart from their own. Effort wasted!

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Posted: 12 May 2015 at 11:18pm | IP Logged
Originally posted by .Hajmola.

Americans dont care for Indians or people of any other nationality apart from their own. Effort wasted!


that's not true lol

America's a bit of a melting pot in terms of diversity and culture. They definitely pay attention to people of other nationalities

some of them, yes, can be ignorant.

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Posted: 12 May 2015 at 11:35pm | IP Logged
Originally posted by .Hajmola.

Americans dont care for Indians or people of any other nationality apart from their own. Effort wasted!

How so...Are Indians, Chinese, etc. living in America not American all of a sudden? To be American, one must be white? 

As an Indian, I am proud to say Priyanka Chopra is from my country and I think its time we stop being condescending towards our own culture. 

All I see on the thread of Quantico's trailer on IF is hate on her accent (which sounds absolutely fine, I can assure you as a North American). Her "Exotic" music video too has around 65 million views on YT and it was a great song! Yet all I saw on IF and specifically from Indian users on YT was hate while people from around the world, be it white, yellow, black, or red were praising her looks, the video, and her voice. So lets not characterize people...Us Indians tend to be the most abashed towards our own nationality. Unsurprisingly, her WORST critics seem to be her OWN people. 

I think its her efforts and hard work that has brought her this far. Today she represents India on an  international scale and from here...sky is the limit. Hope this Desi Girl goes places!



Edited by Deewangi - 12 May 2015 at 11:50pm

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