This brings one to the biggest debate going around the town, which is around the battle of supremacy when it comes to the top female actor. How does Priyanka see herself positioned in the number game? "Actually I am not a very competitive person at all. I believe in my work speaking for myself", comes an expected response from Priyanka, "This entire talk of someone being a Number 1 or Number 5 doesn't bother me. What really matters is that over a period of time, has your work been appreciated or not? I want to connect myself to my work and I don't have any interest in the films of other people."
Well, she can't be so oblivious to the work of other people? After all it does matter to know what's happening in the industry in general. "Oh yes, I do catch on movies for sure. I mean Kareena was fantastic in 3 Idiots while some other actors are also doing fantastic in the industry. However, eventually I am just concerned about my own career. I have no interest in other people's films", she says in a matter of fact tone.
Last year Priyanka scaled new heights with her performances in various movies. Awards and accolades kept pouring in for her throughout the year as she garnered critical and commercial acclaim. The only thing that didn’t go in her favour last year was her health. She was admitted to a hospital and even reportedly fell ill on the sets of movies and at events.
But now, a fitter Priyanka is raring to go. After almost six months she is ready to challenge her body by hitting the gym and training really hard “I’m feeling great and I am completely fit now. I had been advised to take care of myself and I have done that diligently. Now the time has come to push my body again and I’m very excited,” she says.
Priyanka is getting ready for some hardcore action sequences in Farhan Akhtar’s Don 2 that goes on the floors this year-end. She says, “I’m playing a fighter in the film and I have to sport a chiselled body for which I have to shed off the rounder womanly me for the much more athletic one. I have to do some mind-blowing stunts in the movie and for that I have to have a particular body type.”
About 2010, Priyanka says she is excited about the variety of roles she has in her kitty. “This year will see me mixing it up by doing a romantic comedy called Anjaana Anjaani, a black comedy by Vishal Bhardwaj called 7 Husbands and Don 2, which is an action thriller. As an actor I will have to be on my toes,” she adds.
With her first National Award for Best Actress for Madhur Bhandarkar’s Fashion, Priyanka Chopra joins the ranks of esteemed actresses’ like Shabana Azmi and Tabu “I’m thrilled that I’ve won a National Award so early in my career.”
In her nine years in Bollywood, Priyanka has already notched up some truly remarkable work in films like Fashion and Kaminey. “Fashion is a special film to me. When Madhur narrated the script to me, I knew Meghna Mathur (my character) would leave her mark. While I picked up many awards for this performance including the Filmfare trophy, the National Award came as a natural culmination for a role I truly believed in. I’m grateful to Madhur for his faith in me.” Admitting that her choice of films has sometimes gone awry, the actress is nevertheless determined to continue the act of balancing meaningful cinema with masala fare.
Did she take acting seriously at the outset “Four years ago, I only did what I was told. I'd follow my director's instructions to the T. I didn't know what a character graph is. I discovered that during Bluff Master. I worked on my characters. Fashion, Dostana and Kaminey helped me understand that there's more to the characters than just lines. Working with top-of-the line filmmakers and actors helps.”
In a sexist industry, she has come a long way “ I have been a destiny's child but I faced failure at every step and wanted to succeed more every time. Miss India was my opportunity and I made the best of it. I worked hard for it.” Usually, even if you're the best-selling actress, you need to be paired with a top-selling actor to sell the film. Does that bother her? “Initially, it did and Fashion changed that. I was worried because the film was resting on my shoulders. And it had an A certificate. Fashion opened well. That made me feel successful. I feel I'm discovering the industry as they are discovering me.”
Is she ready to handle failure? “You fail just as elegantly as you succeed. Failure is a part of success. It's bound to happen. But I can't give a perfect shot to it even today.” Was it easy to handle fame? “People were being nice to me. It was bizarre. The Miss World contest scared me. They would all have hated me if I didn't win. My mum once again came to my rescue and calmed me.”
Does she agree this industry is full of sleazoids? “From an outsider's perspective, there are three levels. One is of people who are extremely sleazy, then those who know people but are shady. And then there are the classy people. Unfortunately, when you're starting out, you meet shady and sleazy people more because they are accessible. I had my fears but nothing really happened. But I had sleazy experiences when filmmakers would look at me as an object and make demeaning and insulting remarks. I kept my dignity and let that pass.” She ends with a smile of a winner.