‘We deserve to be on world stage’: Priyanka Chopra Jonas on her latest series ‘Citadel’

Priyanka Chopra Jonas speaks to Shama Bhagat about her upcoming series, Citadel, Indian representation in Western cinema, and life after motherhood
A still from the series 'Citadel'
A still from the series 'Citadel'

You are the lead actor in a mainstream Hollywood series, helmed by Russo brothers. Do you think it will pave the way for Indian actors wanting to make the move?

When we talk of Indian representation in Hollywood, I wonder why we don’t see more of us as leads. After all, we comprise one-fifth of the world’s population and have the largest number of releases every year. Our technicians are hired by Hollywood because we are good at our job, yet we are sidelined. We need to create more opportunities for Indians, and as a producer, I am developing shows, which will not only star Indian faces, but also have them working behind the camera. We deserve to be on the world stage. It took me 10 years to be on a Hollywood poster and be given equal opportunities as my male co-actor. It will take time, but I am positive that in the next five years, there will be a visible change in representation.

Tell us about your action sequences in Citadel.

The stunt teams of Russo Brothers are known for the Avengers and James Bond films. I got to do some amazing action choreographed by them in Citadel, and learnt a lot too.  I trusted my body and instincts, and did almost 80 percent of the stunt scenes myself.

You made your debut with a Tamil film. After the global success of RRR, will you return to southern cinema?

I would love to.  I have tremendous admiration for the southern industry. I told Rajamouli sir that with 
RRR, he created such a beautiful world for people from across the globe to enjoy. If I get an opportunity to do something really amazing or path-breaking, of course I will take it up. Language is no bar to me. I am an actor and can learn to do anything.

How has Malti’s presence in your life changed your priorities?

My working hours have reduced; I don’t work on weekends, and whenever there is a break in shoot schedules, I go home. The pace of my work has also slowed down.  I took a full year off after completing Citadel, so that I could spend time with her. These are, however, changes that started, in some measure, in the last five years since my marriage, even before Malti came into our lives, particularly because I found solid ground under my feet with 
my family and work.

One personal and professional goal that you believe you are yet to achieve?

I want to create a Hollywood filmography for myself that is as diverse as my Bollywood career. I have played a different character in every Hindi film, and did many genres. I am hoping that in the next decade, I can do equally varied roles and work with the best film- makers, both in Bollywood and Hollywood. In fact, there are very few actors who have straddled two global film industries—there’s Sophia Loren, Salma Hayek, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, Deepika Padukone, and now Alia Bhatt—and fewer who are equally relevant in both. 

That is my professional goal. Personally, I am content. As long as your family is healthy and happy, and there’s harmony at home, there’s nothing more one can ask for.

What do you think is the secret of your success?

I don’t think there can be any one thing that can make someone successful. I believe in perseverance and that nothing speaks louder than hard work. It is crucial to be able to recognise the opportunities that come your way, because not everybody gets those. A director saying, “Hey, I want to cast you” 
only happens in movies, not in real life. In real life, you have to hustle and, one day, it will bear fruits.

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