Will 'Quantico' Make Priyanka Chopra A Global Phenomenon?
Quantico, Priyanka Chopra’s foray into American television, premieres tonight (27 September 2015) on American network television channel ABC. With intense media buzz and hype already surrounding the show ahead of the premiere, the series looks ahead to pulling in a lot of viewers, and getting Chopra a major foothold into Hollywood. We examine what this move means for Priyanka’s stardom and her career.
That Priyanka Chopra is a superstar in India goes without saying. Chopra was already a household name in India before her Hindi film debut in The Hero: Love Story of a Spy in 2003 for being not only Miss India, but for winning the Miss World title in 2000. From initially playing roles where her presence only required her to look pretty and dance, Chopra has now evolved as an artist to carrying films solo (7 Khoon Maaf, Mary Kom, the forthcoming Jai GangaaJal to name a few) and has won many awards and accolades for her performances over the years. Her filmography boasts of over 40 films. Her fame and success in India knows no bounds. Chopra is the face of many ad campaigns and brands in India and currently has about 11 million followers on Twitter and 3 million followers on Instagram. Even after 12 years in a sexist and ageist industry where actresses have a limited “shelf life”, she is part of an elite club of over-30 actresses that are still at the top of their game. In short: she’s pure A-list.
This is probably why ABC showed interest in having Chopra on board. Chopra was approached by ABC for a talent holding deal for one year as part of a drive to have more diversity in casting and ethnic representation on American television. The deal was to either integrate Chopra into an existing show on ABC or headline a new show. Chopra read about 26 scripts, of which Quantico turned out to be her favourite. That this is a winning move for ABC is a no-brainer. Chopra’s immense fan following will ensure a steady viewership of fans for the show and will allow them to sell the show to foreign territories where they might have struggled earlier, due not only to Chopra’s popularity, but the popularity of Bollywood. The show has already been picked up by Star World India for broadcasting in India a week behind the US. It’s also a great PR move for ABC and raises their portfolio for being a more diverse, integrated channel, and ABC has taken full advantage of this by using Chopra to handle all of the show’s promotional gigs. Billboards and posters have been plastered all over the US with her face on them, and there isn’t a day that goes by now that doesn’t have Chopra giving an interview with a famous publication or TV channel in the US. Chopra has garnered a lot of attention in the American media not only for her Bollywood background (considered ‘exotic’) and her pop singles with Will.I.Am and Pitbull (she’s also a part-time recording artist), but her striking looks. She’s on the threshold, it seems, of being the first Indian global superstar.
It’s also an almost serendipitous move for Bollywood as a whole. The Hindi film industry has grown by leaps and bounds in the last decade. Compare a Hindi film now to films that released even as recently as 10 years ago and you can tell the difference. Hindi films now have better production values, tighter storytelling, better cinematography and are overall, far more slick than they used to be. Bollywood films are extremely popular in other foreign territories, like the Middle East, Malaysia and the UK. Having one of their leading actresses break out in America would be a dream come true, as this would lead to greater interest in Hindi films and increase viewership. Chopra, on her part, is proud of her Bollywood roots and never fails to mention Bollywood or recommend Hindi films in her American press interviews.
Chopra is probably the only star that seems to have made significant inroads into attaining the one thing that Bollywood is so thirsty for and yet is eluded by – recognition by Hollywood and the West. A few others have tried (Anil Kapoor starred in 24, Nimrat Kaur is now a cast member in Homeland, Mallika Sherawat starred in Hisss and some other obscure Jackie Chan film, which incidentally, sank without a trace), but it was Aishwarya Rai Bachchan who probably went the furthest yet, and then woefully fizzled out.
This is hugely significant for India as a whole. India’s global image has taken a huge beating recently, with speculation in the global media about the treatment of women in Indian society and rape cases in India taking up more headline space than anything positive. To have an Indian making it big in the US, and that too, a woman, would help in shedding a more positive light towards India and helping shed cultural misconceptions about India in the West.
The effect of having a lead role in a hit American TV show on Chopra’s career and fame will be HUGE, to say the least. This has the potential to raise her global portfolio and make her a well-known face not only in Hollywood, but also other English-speaking countries. It might not be a far stretch to say that Chopra could easily become the most recognised Indian in the world. Obviously, that level of fame would lead to lucrative career opportunities – more films, TV shows, brand endorsements and the like.
One can’t help but wonder though, if starring in Quantico will end up alienating Chopra from the Indian audience. Starring in a TV show is a hefty commitment, time wise – episodes are shot back to back in a start-to-finish schedule and work days are usually 12+ hours long. With an average of 12 episodes per season, shooting for a TV show takes a considerable chunk of time out an actor’s calendar. If the show takes off in a major way (which it looks set to do), the show will very likely be renewed for further seasons, taking more time out of Chopra’s schedule. Where does this leave her Hindi film career? Chopra has stated that she will continue doing Hindi films, but one can’t help but wonder how she can commit to shooting for different projects on different sides of the globe. Hindi films are usually never shot in a start-to-finish schedule and are instead broken up into several schedules throughout a time period. Foreseeing unavailability of dates could lead to Chopra being offered lesser Hindi films and Chopra herself having less time for Hindi films. There is also the possibility of Chopra being offered roles in Hollywood films in the future if Quantico takes off, which would mean more time spent in Hollywood. Could we see Chopra weaning herself off of Hindi films?
To her credit, Chopra has made it very clear that her foray into American TV is not a sign of her leaving Hindi films. She has emphatically stated that she will continue doing Hindi films. How, though, is something that is yet to be seen. PC Maniacs, as her fandom is called, and the Indian movie-going public should perhaps prepare themselves for seeing less and less of Chopra on the Indian silver screen and more on the Hollywood silver screen. All we can do is wait and watch, and in the meantime, wish Chopra and Quantico all the best and hope it becomes a hit show.
Do you think Quantico is paving the way for Chopra to becoming a megastar? Let us know below!
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