Priyanka Chopra's Reddit encounter: Did AMA make her run away?
Chopra deserves a pat on her back for having done the AMA in the first place. Not too many in PR-protected Bollywood would be willing to give their fans so much access or time.
The Reddit tradition of AMA (Ask Me Anything) is one of those dangerous things that sounds like a really fun idea until it all goes wrong. An AMA is exactly what the name suggests. Reddit users can ask the person conducting the AMA pretty much anything. The good part about this is that Reddit has an enormous readership, which translates to excellent publicity if all goes well. However, that's if you don't get bludgeoned by questions you'd rather not answer.
Not too many people from Bollywood have had the courage to step on the AMA boat. Anurag Kashyap's done one and recently, Priyanka Chopra bravely stepped up to answer questions.
Hello reddit… it’s Priyanka. I’m currently crisscrossing the world shooting for a film in Europe, attending a family wedding in the US, taking care of business in India! But I’m taking time off from all of that to have a conversation with all of you. You may know me as an actor, recording artist, former Miss World, philanthropist, daughter, sister and dreamer. I’ve starred in over 45 films in India and recently released my new single “I Can’t Make You Love Me”, which is also the theme song for the new Beats By Dr Dre Pill XL campaign. I’m the face of the NFL’sThursday Night Football, and I recently appeared in the Guess? Holiday campaign. I’m here to entertain but for now… dare I say it…ask me anything!!!
The session started off comfortably enough, with Chopra quoting Oscar Wilde, answering questions about her Mary Kom biopic (it's in post production) and peppering her replies with smilies. She said she hates the gym and loves Nutella cake, Hyderabadi biriyani, aloo paranthas and rajma-chawal. When she was asked about her accent, she said that it was thanks to going to high school in the US. For those interested, her special success mantra goes like this:
Be yourself – Find what makes you special and use that….no one else is as unique as you are. --- Work hard… always - Simply put, there is no substitute, no matter who you are or what you might have achieved. ---- Take a risk, take a chance… never get complacent – it makes you feel alive and drives you to push your limits! And… the rewards are amazing! — Learn to take constructive criticism – no one is perfect and sometimes it helps to get an outside perspective on something. Not every criticism is bad… there is much to learn from that. — Have fun – we all deserve some of that!
Later in the session, after Chopra had gone offline, some wondered whether her PR team had been pretending to be her. We're no experts, but based on our experience with emails from various publicity agents, there are too few spelling mistakes and grammatical errors in replies like the one quoted above for it to be a hired hand.
There's another reason why we think Chopra, and not one of her PR team, did the AMA herself. Her typing speed was pretty darn slow. As a result the questions kept piling up and now when you look at the AMA, it looks like she didn't answer anything even though there are two pages worth of replies that she wrote.
While most of Chopra's answers are fluffy and casual, she did make it quite clear that she doesn't support the criminalisation of homosexuality and she defended her decision to work with Pitbull. She even tried some repartee. When one Reddit user snarkily asked about her schooling, she asked, "Wow! You always been a hater?" That, however, was the only spark from Chopra and considering what the Internet is made of, it's not really much by way of an attack.
Predictably, the questions that Chopra had to field weren't always comfortable. Some questioned why a road was named after her father, another asked about her endorsement of cosmetics like fairness creams. There were numerous comments about Bollywood's lack of originality and the omnipresence of auto tune in her music.
When you look at the AMA now, it looks like Chopra ran off when the questions got uncomfortable but that is not entirely true. Chopra answered questions for a couple of hours, which is as long as she's expected to stay online while doing an AMA. Because really, "What is your favourite pizza topping?" is not a threatening question. Neither is being asked what she'd do if she were Invisible Woman for a day. Then she left, as people do at the end of their AMA session.
It's very possible that what may have decided when she'd make her exit were the comments about her father. The AMA is filled with repeated questions and comments about him and a lot of them are clearly intended to be hurtful. One person suggested Chopra and her father's favourite film was the Korean film Oldboy, which has a seriously disturbing incest angle.
That said, by and large, the questions that Chopra faced were quite adoring. Chopra didn't answer any difficult questions except one about her accent and another about her collaboration with Pitbull. Perhaps wisely, she ignored the questions that were jibes rather than honest queries. Still, it would have been good to see if she had a retort for anyone who said she can't sing. Also, one person asked "Have you done plastic surgery?" Answering that one would have been a good idea, if not to settle rumours, then to make a statement about plastic surgery and the cult of conventional beauty that seems to wrangle people into wanting such procedures. Hell, she could have really blown the lid off Bollywood and mentioned the names of a few men who have opted for a little nip and tuck.
Considering the cocoon of privilege and sycophants that usually surrounds Bollywood stars, it must have been something of a shock for Chopra that there are so many people who were intent upon needling her. But by the same token, Chopra deserves a pat on her back for having done the AMA in the first place. Not too many in PR-protected Bollywood would be willing to give their fans so much access or time.
You can see Priyanka Chopra's AMA session here.
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