Las Vegas, 4 May-2014,Steven Baker: The Indian celebrity is appearing at the electronic music venue alongside…
Mumbai,Tushar Joshi: Priyanka Chopra is excited and equally nervous about being the lead in ABC’s Quantico — a thriller television series about a group of FBI recruits. The show has been picked up for the 2015-16 TV season and PC says she is in ‘uncharted territory’. In an exclusive chat between finishing her many commitments before flying off to LA, she talks to me about being a ‘global icon’ and why she was clear on not playing a stereotypical Indian on the show. Here are excerpts from our chat…
You didn’t get Quantico the traditional way, there was no audition, how did the show come to you ?
For me, it was very different. Most actors audition for a lot of shows. But for me, I had done a special deal with ABC, they scout talent around the world. So, when Kelly Lee, who is in casting, came down, I was shooting Gunday. She said they wanted to do a development deal where they find the right show for me. They had done similar deals with Sofia Vergara, Eva Longoria and a few other actresses, where they find the right show for that talent. So then I had to go to LA and read the 25 pilots that they had picked for me, tell them the ones I liked, which was around three or four scripts. If it ends up working for everyone from writers, directors and the creative team, you end up doing it. So I am happy that I got my first pick which was Quantico!
Is it true you had a clause stating you wouldn’t play an Indian on the show?
Interestingly, Quantico was written for an all-American girl, a white girl. So they tweaked the story. My ethnicity on the show is half Indian-half Caucasian.
You already have an accent. Is that something you have retained on the show ?
I have never played an FBI agent. In fact, you will hear me speak in a more American accent than the one that I already have! Because to be a FBI agent, you need to be an American citizen, so it was very important for me to get that right. I had dialect coaching to sound even more American and how much I have laughed! Because I told them in India anyway people think I have an accent, now with Quantico, that’s on some other level. But as an actor you do it, like when I did Kaminey, I sounded so Maharashtrian. For Jhilmil, I had to change my voice completely.
Talk to me about the way American media looks at Indian actors.
They see me as a person from another land. They don’t understand the concept of how I have the fan following that I do.
What is your biggest fear playing the lead on Quantico?
It’s very scary, because I don’t know if the world is ready for an Indian protagonist. When I did NFL, and ‘In My City’ was picked for NFL, it was the opening song after Faith Hill. Several racist comments came my way, that I am an Arab terrorist on social media and the NFL network, they had people writing to them. Because I was brown, they figured I’m Arab, and people were like ‘How can you have her headlining an American event? Why is she in an all-American sport?’ So, I don’t know how people will react especially since I’m playing an American from India! But it’s a great part and a great show, it could be really cool.
What are your fav American TV shows?
I am obsessed with CSI, SVU, Dexter. I also like Grey’s Anatomy and all of that. I watch a lot of TV, I prefer watching TV shows over a long film. My mother is obsessed with her murder fix at night, so I end up watching one episode with her during dinner. Now she’s damn happy that I am going to be her murder fix with Quantico (laughs). I am excited, nervous, it’s uncharted territory. When you don’t have a precedent it freaks you out.