Priyanka Chopra needs a prestige project; could Sanjay Leela Bhansali's Gustakhiyan be it?
A 'cement surfboard' that sank beneath the waves.
'21 Chump Street.'
'A stupidly entertaining trash folly.'
The critics have not been kind to Baywatch. Neither have audiences.
And in India, where Priyanka Chopra's presence in the film was seen as guaranteeing a good opening, Baywatch isn't predicted to earn much over Rs 5 crore.
While a Hollywood film can't possibly vie for the same box office numbers as an Indian film in the country, big-ticket, highly promoted projects can expect to do pretty well. The Jungle Book last year, earned a not-to-be-sniffed at Rs 188 crore over its 10-week runtime in Indian theatres (English+dubbed versions). While The Jungle Book no doubt had a huge Indian connect that brought audiences to the theatres, to a lesser extent, so does Baywatch — in the presence of Priyanka Chopra.
Her performance in Baywatch has been, for the most part, appreciated — but it isn't clear where exactly Priyanka Chopra goes from here.
In the pipeline are two Hollywood projects — A Kid Like Jake, starring Jim Parsons and Claire Danes; and the Rebel Wilson-Liam Hemsworth starrer Isn't It Romantic. From the few details that are available about these films, it doesn't seem as though Priyanka will be the protagonist in either of them.
Her shoots for these films will take up most of June and July 2017, and then she returns to the sets of her TV show Quantico in fall. Quantico earned a 'last minute reprieve' from ABC, being renewed for a truncated third season just a day before the network finalised its line-up for 2017-18. Quantico began as a hugely popular show in 2015, but over just two seasons, has seen its ratings dip.
But, in terms of a prestige project — one that fully harnesses her considerable prowess as an actress — she may need to look closer to home.
Which is why, speculation around Gustakhiyan — Sanjay Leela Bhansali's reported biopic on Sahir Ludhianvi and his relationship with Amrita Pritam, which may possibly star Priyanka — continues to flare up time and again.
Periodically, there are reports conjecturing whether or not Priyanka is doing Gustakhiyan. The latest is a report from the entertainment news portal SpotBoyE that says the development has been confirmed. However, there has been no official statement from Bhansali or Priyanka so far.
Priyanka had told Mumbai Mirror in a previous interview that she was in talks with Bhansali — who considers her a sort of good-luck charm — for a film. However, she didn't acknowledge if this would be the Ludhianvi biopic. Instead, she said that the film would have a strong female protagonist, and two male leads.
Priyanka's last solo hit in Bollywood was 2014's Mary Kom.
In 2015, she was part of two successful films: Dil Dhadakne Do, in which she was one among an ensemble cast; and Bajirao Mastani, where she had a supporting part to play in the Ranveer Singh-Deepika Padukone starrer.
Jai Gangaajal, which was purely a Priyanka-driven film, didn't work at the box office when it released in 2016.
Priyanka's schedule is extremely packed — in reporting on her schedules for Kid Like Jake, Isn't It Romantic, and Quantico, Variety noted that most actors who have a major TV show manage to fit in the shoot for one film in their time off; Chopra has accommodated two. She's just come off an extensive publicity tour for Baywatch. And that's only in the West.
On her whirlwind trips to India, Priyanka squeezes in magazine shoots, obligatory events, running her production house (Purple Pebble Pictures). Amid this, she has to chalk out a space for her next Bollywood film.
The year 2017 will not have a Bollywood release featuring Priyanka. Could Gustakhiyan in 2018 really be the film that she marks her return to India with?