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Priyanka Chopra: Stiletto trotting all over the world

Over the last few years Priyanka Chopra has been taking the international entertainment by storm. She has been creating a niche for herself in an arena that is predominantly white. In spite of how much Hollywood is tolerant of the artistes of colour it has been always a toughie for Indian artistes to make way into mainstream international entertainment. Of course, we have had the likes of Om Puri, Naseeruddin Shah, Neena Gupta, Anil Kapoor, Irrfan Khan and so many others who have exhibited their talent overseas, however, we are yet to see an Indian actor play a female main protagonist in a series or a movie. Priyanka Chopra is well way ahead into making that change, what with her successful appearance in the international entertainment arena.

Priyanka-Chopra-1Emerging from Miss World pageant winner in the year 2000, to a successful career in mainstream Hindi films, to an International singing sensation and finally to a Hollywood heartthrob. She has done it all, one might say. But Priyanka definitely does not stop at just that. She seems to be jet setting across the world to make her footprints visible from the moon. An actress, singer, producer, philanthropist, she dons many hats and yet her head never seem to rest. It is so exciting to see her always on the move, always ready to take on exciting new projects, always keen on joining hands with the best names in the business.

Her reeling success can be attributed to her will to succeed, especially in the times of adversity. We are witness to how she has always risen like a phoenix when the media had written her off, or not so completely. She kicks off to a new journey even before she has completely closed the door behind and that is what makes her a force to reckon with. Jet-setting all over the world she pauses for just a while, seemingly to breathe in just enough to sustain herself and then packs her bags off to gain some more.

Her recent debut as a presenter at the Oscars was one such event that turned the course of her life as an entertainer. That brief stint at the Academy stage made more headlines than her National Award for the film ‘Fashion’, I guess. Her dresses, her demeanor, her coy smile and her overall personality triumph all make her one much sought after personality even in the Hollywood circuits. But she is not at all just that and one might not want to compare her appearance to that of other celebrities on the Cannes Film Festival Red Carpet. Her courage and wit emanates from the way that she walks, talks and manages her liaisons within India and abroad.

Priyanka-Chopra-2That she is a fine actress cannot be refuted either. Her choice of cinema and her body of work speaks volumes about the kind of statement she wants to make for her audience. Even from her earliest remarkable performance in Aitraaz she had carved a space for herself in the industry. Subsequently with films like FashionSaat Khoon Maaf and Barfi she further strengthened her position as a fine actress. Her (not so popular) outing in What’s Your Rashee may not have garnered numbers at the box office but that did not stop the critics from appreciating her work. Her portrayals of 12 different characters, stark from one another, were not only admirable but also evinced that she is capable of pulling off any character on screen. Her physical makeover in Don further helped her create a niche for herself and she was considered as one of the fittest actress in the country. Her appearances in Mujhse Shaadi KarogiKamineyAgneepath made her a favourite to play the girl next-door image. Playing a strong character like Mary Kom, in the movie by the same name, she was able to prove that no feat is tough for her to achieve. She was not only convincing in that role, what with going at length to transform herself physically,but she also gathered great respect from masses and critics alike for her acting prowess. Her recent conquest in Bajirao Mastani made the whole country love her even more.

Her exceptionally varied choice of characters and the roles that she has picked up all the years has made her a favourite for her audience and critics alike. She has had her share of failure as well but she has been able to bounce back ever so strongly, all the time. Taking on new challenges like establishing herself as an international singing sensation was no mean feat. Her being nominated for her single “In My City” at the World Music Awards is a major achievement in itself. Her philanthropic activities as a UNICEF Goodwill ambassador for Child Rights saw her promoting various causes around the globe and she continues to be extremely vocal about women and child issues. She managed to make the whole world sit up and take notice when she grabbed a role in the ABC television series Quantico and became the first South Asian actress to win a People’s Choice Award.

Priyanka-Chopra-3“Nowhere to go but everywhere to be…” when she says this, you just want to nod your head and say, ‘ah well, we know!’ So when she appeared on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon and beat him in the wing-eating contest we were like, ‘wow! that’s our Punjabi kudi’. And that’s just the least bit about her that we are so proud of. She is so much more that just a pretty face and she has been able to prove that time and again with her conquests. She is presently shooting for Quantico and the movie Baywatch (where she plays a negative role) simultaneously and we wonder how she manages all of that, especially when it involves traveling every few days. But that’s who she possibly is. Having all that on the platter and doing much more than what is laid out makes her an achiever all through the way. Her tireless pursuits are just about to yield results now, seemingly.

The government of India just honored her with Padma Shri, the fourth highest civilian award, in 2016 and that is a matter of great pride for this self-made woman. Stiletto trotting all over the world, Priyanka emerges as an accomplished international star. And she seems to have just begun! Go rule the world, girl!

This post was first published on High On Films.

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Movie Review: Bajirao Mastani (2015)

Cast: Ranveer Singh, Deepika Padukone, Priyanka Chopra

Director: Sanjay Leela Bhansali

Music: Sanjay Leela Bhansali

I am completely in awe of period dramas-always eager to find out how a particular time in the history is translated on the screen. I am always curious to understand the director’s perspective of a set era back in time. Just like always, this time as well, I knew I would like the movie as soon as I saw the promos. Also, I am a Sanjay Leela Bhansali fan so I was all the more looking forward to his latest outing.

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Bhansali movies are known for their elaborate sets and extravagant costumes and also their larger than life portrayal of characters. Exactly what I was expecting and exactly what I was served. The movie set in the 1800s is the love story of Peshwa Bajirao who fell in love with the warrior-princess of Bundelkhund, Mastani, while he was already married to KashiBai. It is also the story of people warped around love where they are unable to devote their whole self and are divided in the turmoils of religion- something that rings true even today. Therefore the story in the present context is quite relatable.
b5This fictional depiction of Bajirao’s life has many shades-love, longing, bigotry, valour and sacrifice. Where Bajirao is fighting hard to balance his life which is divided between love and religion, there is Mastani, who is all consumed by love. Every step she takes, she aims to be closer to Bajirao. Then there is Kashi who is torn between her love for her husband and her husband’s love for another woman.She does excuse the deceit but she does not forgive. This is what makes the story pretty contemporary. How this love destroys the three of them is what sums up the story.
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Where the ethereal Deepika Padukone has played Mastani to the hilt we wonder how in one year she could give us the outgoing Tara (in Tamasha) and the submissive yet strong Mastani, all with consistent poise. Her character has been built based on any woman who completely submits to her love and lives as per her desires. So when she is humiliated, shunned and brutalized, she refuses to give up on the man she loves and bears him a son, as well. She quietly but confidently makes way into his life, only to be remembered as one with her lover. There is Bajirao-the valiant. Ranveer Singh fits into the character so well, it’s almost as if the role is tailor-made for him. His mannerisms, his accent, his tonality all ring of originality as he gets into the skin of his character. He makes the character more believable than what it actually is written as. Every time he moves on the screen we can see grace- whether it is a fight sequence, romance or anguish. He is as effective in the battlefield as he is in the most vulnerable parts-taking Mastani as his wife and Kashi denouncing him. He make us feel for his character.
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There is Kashi Bai played by Priyanka Chopra. Her character is the righteous wife who knows her husband of how he is perceived by the outer world. She connects with him as a friend though but nothing beyond that. Her love for her husband is more devout than spiritual. And when she understands the difference she is broken. Her heartbreak reaches out to you and you sympathise with the character. Her pain speaks at various levels during the course of the second half, whether she is airing it to out to her husband or his lover.
b4Among the other characters, Tanvi Azmi, as the peshwa’s mother shines through and creates ripples. However, the other fine actors like Raza Muraad, Mahesh Manjrekar, Aditya Pancholi, Milind Soman were quite wasted. We would have loved to see their characters play a more vital role in the screenplay. However, that does not hinder us from enjoying the narrative.
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Even though the principal characters have worked really hard to bring the characters to life, it is but the sets and the costumes that complete the circle. Cinematography by Sudeep Chatterjee makes the first half quite distinct from the second half. Where the first half shows the life of the peshwa set within his family and his outings with the enemy, the second half in contrast shows how his life is torn by his family and his battles are more within than outside. Where the first half is sprinkled with deep frames, the second half brings the wide angles and outdoors, transitioning the story that depicts how large the war within the protagonist’s heart is. Additionally, the CGI brings the war scenes to life and some of the visuals get completely etched in your memory- like the one where Bajirao jumps on the head of an elephant and stabs the enemy. Wow!!
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The costumes designed by Anju Modi are strikingly beautiful and come close to the extravagance of Jodha-Akbar. Deepika’s costumes are meticulously brought together to contrast with her various moods throughout the movie-as a princess, as a lover, as a mother. Priyanka carries the marathi look quite well. With slightly wavy hair tied in a bun, the shining gucha-nath, she makes the look complete with that thousand watt smile. Her vibrance brings much colour and life to the frames she is in. Ranveer takes center stage because he needed to bring character to the way he dressed. From regality to soldier his transformation was as elegant as it could be and pleasingly so.
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Sanjay Leela Bhansali is a brave filmmaker to be able to pick up subjects like this and go all out to create what he visualises. Even though the product does not turn out flawless, but it still manages to soar higher than most of the products being churned out. With the colours- all sorts- sprayed courageously across the screen, this historical narrative looks brighter than it would on book. It took me a few days to chew on the movie and I can safely say that this review was worth the wait. The message is clear-love surpasses all- no religion can ever come close because love is a religion by itself.

 

In case, you have still not watched it I would suggest you to use this weekend to watch it. Here is what to expect:

 

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