Priyanka Chopra: A Dark Horse covers actor's well-documented rise to fame, but offers few insights

Archita Kashyap

June 19, 2018 16:08:21 IST

One must give due credit to Bharathi S Pradhan, veteran journalist and author of Priyanka Chopra: A Dark Horse for taking the bull by the horns. Pradhan has given ample space in her book to PeeCee’s relationship with Shah Rukh Khan, a topic that gave cold feet to most newspapers and editors at its peak.

Pradhan’s publishers have backed the author, who has explained the impact of the relationship on Chopra’s life. The book also clarifies to one and all that the tempestuous relationship that polarised film folk and Bollywood insiders, despite being kept under wraps for a long time, has run its course after 6 years. The Quantico star is now single and evidently, ready to mingle (Nick Jonas etc).

Priyanka Chopra. Image from Twitter.

The book clarifies another a rumor that the Instagram generation might not have been familiar with. Chopra has had surgery on her nose, and the book reveals it didn't work out as planned when she stepped into Bollywood.

But these two are only revelations or insight that the book has to offer. The rest of it is a well-documented, detailed study of Priyanka Chopra’s rise to fame and fortune, and the unconditional support that her parents and family gave her to be a part of this cutthroat industry.

It walks you through long interviews with filmmakers that vouch for the thorough professional and ambitious actor Priyanka is. But it doesn’t really tell us much about who the person, Priyanka is, and why she is that way. While writing a book on the life of a celebrity — that has lived most of her adulthood in the limelight — does limit one’s ability to offer new details or fresh information, insight should ideally emerge from all that goes in writing one. This aspect seemed missing in an otherwise, pacey and light read.

Priyanka Chopra is not a typical Hindi film heroine. She played an antagonist early on in her career (in Aitraaz), won awards for it and become an emerging mainstream star. Chopra took up the challenge of Madhur Bhandarkar's Fashion and shouldered the film effectively, also winning the National Film Award for her performance. Hers has been a career of turning disadvantages to advantages. As Pradhan aptly puts it, Priyanka never misses out on an opportunity that comes her way. She gives it her 100 percent. As a personality, hers seems naturally dramatic. She turns on the waterworks frequently on a film set, or off it, if there’s argument or criticism. She can be demanding with her mother, her team and those close to her. She is always punctual, disciplined and completely focused on her film. She was very close to her late father Dr Ashok Chopra, and misses him all the time. As the book concludes, she remains, daddy’s little girl.

Her biggest victory is the accomplishment of having become an ABC diversity talent — one that transcended to mainstream American TV and decent, visible films in Hollywood. The book reinforces that Priyanka made up for her flaws with tenacity, sincerity and an ability to work extraordinarily hard, clocking up to 20 hours in a day sometimes. This is what sets her apart.

The book cover for Priyanka Chopra: The Dark Horse.

The girl from Bareilly is definitely a super ambitious, razor sharp, intelligent person. For her mother to have given up her career as an army doctor to be with her daughter, also reflects parents who were willing to give it all up for the gamble of stardom. Priyanka clearly belongs to a big, happy family.

The book has its moments, particular an incident where Chopra's phone got exchanged with senior journalist Meena Iyer — which lead to a personal revelation. Also the emotional heroine’s waterworks over a text message botch up with Manish Malhotra is kind of funny. One gets a peep into a young Chopra's life from detailed testimonials of Pradeep Guha, Tarun Mansukhani and Anurag Basu. One also gets a sense of admiration that Sanjay Leela Bhansali holds for Priyanka.

But demystifying Priyanka really is left to the reader. For instance, as the book succinctly captures about her personal life, why did Chopra tend to choose married men? If Quantico wraps up, what does she have in mind for her international acting career? Why is the legal tangle with former manager Prakash Jaju given only a cursory mention?

More importantly, while referring to Chopra's 6 year long relationship with King Khan, why hasn’t much been said about systematic ostracisation that Priyanka faced in Hindi cinema? Was that not a factor in firming up her determination to make a successful international crossover?

I found the repeated reference to her not being beautiful in the typical sense of the word — be it through the author’s voice or testimonials of others — unnecessary. Beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder. Globally, many female cinema icons ;ike Helen Mirren, Sandra Bullock, Cate Blanchett, Jennifer Lawrence, don’t make the perfect beauty cut. But they rule cinema with performance and chutzpah all the same.

The Priyanka Chopra I have met in various interviews over a decade personifies determination. Her effervescent friendliness always felt a bit put on, but when she would speak, natural born intelligence and a quiet confidence would shine through. Chopra knew what she wanted and she gave it her all. There is more to Priyanka Chopra than being a dark horse. Hopefully, the next biography/book brings that to light.

Updated Date: Jun 19, 2018 16:08 PM