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Amazing Priyanka Chopra, aka as “The Complete Package”

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Priyanka Chopra has come a long long way

Priyanka Chopra From saying no to the unfaithful wife’s role in Sanjay Gupta’s Musafir to blissfully sinking her decalcified teeth into the role of a woman who kills seven husbands and gets away with murder, to conquering the West with Quantico and  Baywatch to  the  global face   of Bollywood  … Priyanka Chopra has come a long long way .

I remember Gupta was deeply offended when Priyanka Chopra had said no to Musafir.

He thought it was a dream role for a relatively new heroine. She thought it was outside her comfort zone.The matter ended there.You can’t make Priyanka Chopra change her mind.

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Sameera Reddy finally played the wanton wife who cheats on husband Mahesh Manjrekar when stranger Anil Kapoor(with streaked hair, the stranger couldn’t get any stranger) strays into town.After seeing Musafir I asked Priyanka why she had said no to it.

 “Did you see Mahesh Manjrekar saying, ‘Blouse khol’ to his wife?” Priyanka Chopra  retorted.She didn’t sound shocked or scandalized, just amusedWe both burst out laughing.

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It’s rare to find Priyanka Chopra  making a politically incorrect statement even as a joke. Earlier on I’d tease her about being the new Rani Mukherjee who always made sure she said the correct things.

 “That’s good, na.Rani is so good at her job and so successful.”

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The comfort-zone is a place that Priyanka Chopra  is very sure about.She won’t say no to a role because it requires body exposure.She carries off the micro-mini-est of dresses with panache because she’s confident that her legs talk. But she isn’t comfortable flaunting cleavage.If  the character says and/or wears things that seem odd she would say no to it.And no amount of money would cajole her to reverse her decision.

Priyanka is the most obdurate actress I’ve come across.She gives you a long rope as a journalist.But if she’s put off she takes a  long time to come around.

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“Write what you want as long as it isn’t slanderous or damaging,” she once told me. At that time she was trying to make things work for her  with Shahid Kapoor who had issues regarding her friendship with other men.

An article I wrote on Priyanka Chopra  and Gerard Butler messed up things even more between Shahid and Priyanka. It took her a long time to get over that one.It messed up her plans for her heart.

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Priyanka always has a game-plan which I suspect,is hidden away even from God.

In her early days in the film industry Priyanka was not so sure of which way to go with her career. The hunger to excel was always there.In the mornings before shooting started for her first few films(The Hero with Sunny DeolAndaaz with Akshay Kumar) she attended Kathak and yoga classes.That’s when she would call from her car.

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“You don’t call me. You’ve bigger heroines to talk to,” she would say and laugh throatily.In that laughter was secreted the self confidence that she too would make it big in no time at all.

Priyanka Chopra  had set an actual time-frame for herself during which she was sure she would get to the top.

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In those early days her father would often negotiate projects for Priyanka.J.P Dutta was casting for Umrao Jaan. Both Priyanka and her dad were very keen that she get the part. JP quietly signed Aishwarya Rai Bachchan. Not once did I hear Priyanka bitch or crib about  the injustice of it all.And neither did she gloat when Umrao Jaan eventually turned out to be a fiasco.

Come to think of it, many parts that Priyanka Chopra  has instinctively turned down or the ones that have been snatched away, have turned out to be turnips at the turnstiles.

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I once told her she is blessed.

“Not blessed,” she laughed throatily. “I work hard .And I’ve a good judgment of what works for me.”

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In  all the time that I’ve known her I’ve never heard Priyanka bitch about any of her competition. Not Aishwarya, Kareena….not even Katrina. It’s always others who have felt threatened by Priyanka.

“I think women and men see something predatory about me,” she had languidly meowed to me. Before I could react she had burst out laughing.

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The thing about Priyanka Chopra  is,she is far more street-smart and far stronger than all her competitors. Kareena thinks with her heart. Priyanka Chopra  doesn’t let her heart dictate her decisions. I’ve seen her go through the best and the worst of times. She remains firm on her ground, no matter how slippery it gets.

Beyond doubt  her worst time so far was when her father fell ill.On the day after she found out his condition, she was on the sets of Bluff Master shooting normally. No one had a clue about the turmoil she was going through.

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In the evening when her co-star Abhishek Bachchan was on the phone with me I mentioned Priyanka’s pain to him. That was the first he heard of it.

“Why should I burden those around me with my pain?” she asked me.“I’m sure they’ve their own worries.I’ve mine to deal with.I wouldn’t like it if they started unburdening their problems on me.”

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Today Priyanka has shaped into one of those actresses who are good at her job very successful and very very dependable.When a director signs her he signs an all-rounder…with some delectable curves thrown in.Ask any filmmaker.He’ll tell you why he wants Priyanka for his film,regardless of  the nature of the part.

And  now she is blissfully married  to Nick Jonas.

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It hasn’t been easy getting here. When Priyanka Chopra  and Lara Dutt came into the film industry simultaneously it was Lara who was seen as the potential star.Priyanka raced ahead, not just because of her talent but impeccable PR.She has the ability to be naturally charming to people around her.Being Ms Congeniality is not a role for her.It’s part of her,just like being a good sister,a good daughter and a good girlfriend.

She doesn’t talk about her relationships, and there’s a reason for it.Aeons ago before she became a star she was seeing Aseem Merchant. She moved on.People continued to refer to Aseem as ‘PC’s boyfriend’ .Priyanka didn’t want Harman Baweja to go through the same humiliation.

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Priyanka is the female Shah Rukh Khan, and not only because she doesn’t get along with Salman Khan. Like SRK,PC genuinely believes she is in competition only with herself.Each time signs on to endorse a brand she checks to see herself in the mirror,and not the zeroes on the cheque.With success she has transformed physically.Her legs are longer.Her cheekbones are sharper.Her nose is more aquiline and her teeth whiter.

But inside her she remains the same.While a Ranveer Singh or for that matter Ranbir Kapoor  and Kangna Ranaut changed with success,Priyanka remains the same.

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It hasn’t been easy getting here.I don’t know whether she knows this(and I’ve never told her). But one of her co-stars secretly referred to her as ‘Dark Side Of The Moon’.He would  often make fun of how she looked without makeup.

Yup,things have changed.With or without makeup,Priyanka lights up the screen the way Shabana Azmi did 25 years ago.After seeing her in Saat Khoon Maaf  Gulzar had said, “She looks beautiful even when she grows old  in the film.”

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In  real life too Priyanka would be comfortable with wrinkles and grey hair.She doesn’t shy away from peeping into the dark side of the moon. She isn’t fearful of  ugliness.Not as an actor. Not as an individual.She has yet to learn how to bitch about her co-stars.But what the heck!No one is perfect.

Not even Priyanka Chopra.

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In spite of her huge star power that extends all the way from  Bandra to Beverly Hills, Chopra has in some way or another been blacklisted by …take a deep breath…AkshayKumar, Salman Khan, Aamir Khan , Ranbir Kapoor and Shah Rukh Khan. The only top notch heroes who are happy being paired with  Chopra are Hrithik Roshan and Ranveer Singh.

This is a good time for Priyanka to consider the future course of  her career. Given the complete dominance of the make superstars in Bollywood can she survive without patriarchal patronage?

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 It’s a question with no simple answer. On one hand the female superstar may be congratulated for ploughing her own field , mining a career that tries  to be independent of male support. On the other hand, how far can a leading lady go unless she has the superstars in her side?

 Mumtaz and Sharmila Tagore, two of the biggest female superstars of the 1970s benefited immensely from their association with the baap of all superstars Rajesh Khanna.

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Another superstar of that era Jaya Bhaduri did a host of good films with smaller co-stars like Anil Dhawan and Vijay Arora. But it was her pairing with Amitabh Bachchan which placed her at the centre of the movement towards female superstardomZeenat Aman piggybacked her stardom on Dev Anand’s patronage. And Hema  Malini the biggest female superstar of her era, had every male superstar being cast opposite her.

The rules haven’t changed since then. Deepika Padukone is equally at home working with Shah Rukh Khan ,Ranbir Kapoor and Ranveer Singh. After Katrina  Kaif’s fall-out with Ranbir Kapoor she is working with her ex-boyfriend and mentor Salman Khan again.

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Given the scarcity of co-stars Priyanka made her move into Hollywood at the right time.

Sanjay Leela Bhansali who  gave Priyanka  her last  triumphant role  in Bajirao Mastani before she headed westward thinks  she will be a formidable figure in Bollywood once again.
“She  is  a   fighter, go-getter , unstoppable,” he says.

Have a great year ahead, Priyanka. You do us proud, girl.

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Nutella India signs Bollywood Superstar Ranveer Singh to promote the brand across India

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Ranveer Singh

Nutella, the original and popular hazelnut cocoa spread brand of Ferrero, one of the world’s leading manufacturers of sweet-packaged products, has signed Bollywood superstar Ranveer Singh as its brand endorser for India market.

By coming on board as a brand representative for India, the superstar will promote the Nutella brand across digital and offline marketing channels as well as be an active part of their various campaigns.

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Nutella® India made the announcement in collaboration with the pan-India star Ranveer Singh’s social pages through an entertaining video, where the actor is seen engaging in a rapid-fire round on ‘what comes to my mind when….’ and proclaims his love for the brand.

 Ranveer Singh comments, “I am excited to announce my association with Nutella®. Nutella® has always held a special place in my heart. I’ve been a fan ever since I was a child and my love for it has only grown over the years. I am stoked to be part of the Nutella journey in India and help bring alive their vision of making tasty breakfast and desserts.”

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The Bollywood star, whose love for Nutella is no secret, will be launching the World Nutella® Day celebrations this year with fans.

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Rakesh Roshan: “Everything I  Know  About Acting & Direction, I Learnt From K Vishwanathji”

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Rakesh Roshan

The  mighty moviemaker K Vishwanath who  was to Telugu cinema what  Satyajit Ray  was  to Bengali cinema,  passed  away on February 2,leaving behind a luminous  legacy.

Acto-director Rakesh Roshan  who had  the  rare honour of working  in four projects  with  Vishwanath recalls him with tremendous respect. “Everything I know  about acting and  direction I learnt from  him. He was  a stalwart , an institution, and so passionate about his work. I had the privilege  of being directed  by him in two films Aurat Aurat Aurat  and Shubh Kamna. He would show  his actors  exactly what he  wanted, down to the minutest gesture.His  understanding  of the medium was  extraordinary.”

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Rakesh Roshan remembers how  he  invited Vishwanath to make films for him. “I produced  two films that Vishwanathji directed. One  was Kaamchor, the other was Jaag Utha  Insaan.While the  first was  a runaway success, the second didn’t do well.”

Speaking on how Kaamchor happened Rakesh recalls, “Vishwanathji and I used to meet socially in Hyderabad.We  wanted to work together. But we had  no script.One evening when we met he  looked very depressed. When I asked him what was wrong, he  said his new release Shubodayam  (in Telugu) had  flopped. That  night I went to see Shobodayam  in  a theatre in Hyderabad. The  next morning I  told Vishwanathji, ‘We’ve  found our script’. I told him where  the  storytelling in Shubhodayam  had gone wrong.We corrected the script and that’s how Kaamchor  happened. Although the entire story revolved  around me,  it was Jaya Prada who benefited  from Kaamchor.”

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About the beautiful  Jaag Utha Insaan , Rakesh Roshan admits  bluntly, “It  flopped because  of miscasting. During those days Sridevi was known  in Hindi cinema as a glamorous heroine. We cast her as classical dancer. Mithun Chakraborty had  the image  of  Gun Master G-9 and  Disco Dancer.We cast him as  a downtrodden  underdog. I was  known  for Kaamchor and  other citybred characters,I was cast as a Brahmin pandit.With other actors Jaag Utha  Insaan would have been a superhit”

Rakesh met K Vishwanath six years  ago. “We were shooting for Krissh in Hyderabad. He came on  the set several  times. We  had so much to say to each other. After that we lost contact. He was  very very busy with many projects. K Vishwanathji lived  for his cinema.”

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As His Latest Work Faraaz Releases Today,  Hansal Mehta Speaks To Subhash  K Jha On The Exciting Times Ahead

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Faraaz

Hansal, Faraaz is  your fifteenth directorial  venture. How does it feel to have come so far  with so many  milestones behind you?

don’t count my films. Genuinely. Every film is a new beginning. Every film has its share of uncertainty and nerves. Perhaps it is also because of the choices I make. There is no scope for either complacency or me carrying a false sense of security. I’m not complaining,though. Living life on the edge keeps me going.

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I  consider  Faraaz to be  a part of your great trilogy on  the dynamics  of terrorism, after  Shahid and  Omerta…where do you see Faraaz  positioned  in your creative ambit?

Thank you , Subhash.Faraaz is a film I’m very, very proud of. It was a challenge to pull off, a tough journey but creatively a very satisfying one. As Rajkummar Rao told me after watching the film , the Trilogy is complete now. Time to explore new stories and new characters. And finish post-production for all the exciting things that we shot for over the past eighteen months.

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Out of curiosity which of your films  have given you  the most creative  satisfaction?

Almost every film Shahid onwards has been immensely satisfying , both in terms of process and the outcome. Save a couple that I need not name. But even those I own for all their flaws, failures, deficiencies and redeeming qualities. But Faraaz has been a great process. I’ve made so many new friends in this journey and found some of the most exciting colleagues that I’m proud to introduce through the film. Writers Raghav Kakkar and Kashyap Kapoor (who co-wrote the film with Ritesh Shah), Cinematographer Pratham Mehta, Sound Designer Mandar Kulkarni, Editor Amitesh Mukherjee, co-producers Sahil, Maz and Sakshi – all of whom have given their blood and sweat to make this film happen. And of course Anubhav Sinha one of my oldest friends in the industry who backed me in telling this story just the way I wanted it. So yes, Faraaz has been satisfying and also filled me with a deep sense of gratitude. I must have done something right, no?

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Of course. Faraaz has a lot of young new actors in it. Tell me  about the  process  of  casting in this film? It couldn’t have been easy since there are dozens  of faces?

That was the challenge and the joy of making this film. I worked on the story during Chhalaang and I always knew that it would be a return to my indie roots for Faraaz. The film had to be made. And it needed fresh faces, bereft of image or trappings of stardom. A huge credit to Mukesh Chhabra who has a huge role to play in my filmography since Shahid. We constantly challenge each other and never ever give up. Casting is a process I really enjoy and finding the right talent to bring characters alive is something I thrive upon. Faraaz has an amazing ensemble. Right from Aditya Rawal , Zahan Kapoor, Juhi Babbar to every small character in the film including the officers, parents and the hostages this one is a triumph of honest casting , casting without an eye on profits, simply in service of the film, of the character.

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Faraaz is  about a terror attack in Bangladesh?how  do you respond to those who want to know, why Bangladesh?

In our research of this dastardly attack we realised that here was a story that had a larger message and something very universal to share. Misguided youth taking up violence in the name of religion or a parent’s love for her child or the unexpected bravery from an unlikely hero are themes that cannot be limited by borders, nationality or language. These stories must be told. They must transcend the limitations of perceived local relevance – particularly when our polarised times need such stories to be told to a larger audience.

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In 2020, your OTT series Scam 1992  proved to  b e game changer. Do you see Scam as a turning point  in your career?

I see Scam 1992 as an enabler. We did not expect its humongous success and to say it did not change things would be fake humility. It gave me back a lot of things I had lost in the years before it released. Including some money. And the courage to tell the stories I desperately wanted to. Also exceptional friends and collaborators like Sameer Nair and his Studio Applause.

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Your films  and your  attitude to cinema has always  been fearless. How  do you  cope with the  threat of growing intolerance in our society  vis a  vis your  convictions as a  filmmaker?

It is not new to me. Remember Dil Pe Mat Le Yaar in 2000? The only difference now is that then I was deeply affected by the intolerance to a point of self destruction. Now I channelise my despair and anger into telling relevant stories and through them taking on those who have made it a business to be intolerant.

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To Attend Siddharth-Kiara’s Destination Wedding, Karan Johar Preponed His Twins’s Birthday  Bash

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Siddharth-Kiara’s

For those  who are  wondering why Karan Johar hosted  the grand birthday party for his  twins Roohi and  Yash who will  turn 6 on 7 February,  six days in  advance  on 1  February  here is  why:  on the day of his twins’ birthday,  Karan  will be in Rajasthan attending the wedding celebrations of his dear friends  Siddharth Malhotra  and Kiara Advani who are  getting married on  February 6.

 Reveals   a friend close  to  Karan,  “Karan was in a dilemma. To him there is  nothing more important than his  children’s happiness.  How could he break their hearts by skipping  the most important day of their  lives? At the same time, how could he  not attend Siddharth and Kiara’s wedding ? They are  very close to him.”

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Karan did the best thing possible to resolve the situation:  he put the dilemma before his children Yash and Juhi who happily  agreed  to  have their party  a few days in advance so their ‘Dada’  could  attend  his friends’ wedding.

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