I started working at 17: Priyanka

MUMBAI: Priyanka Chopra says she grew up in the movies, and that’s the only world she’s ever known. The desi girl says she’s had to be strong to survive, and things haven’t turned out so bad after all!

It was crazy, nobody knew what they were doing!” exclaims Priyanka Chopra in her hotel room where she’s taken refuge, referring to the near-mob that swamped her at an event she had come to the city for.

So much attention, is it flattering or annoying? “It’s a mix of both, I’m flattered that there were so many people there who wanted to get a glimpse, but it annoyed me that people got manhandled, and that it was badly organised,” she says.

Touching base with stuff that’s more personal, Priyanka has admitted that she puts a brave face in front of the world, but then comes back home to cry alone, that there are still some things she hasn’t learnt to deal with. Coming across as someone so vulnerable, how has she managed to survive and keep her sanity in an industry that is known to be so ruthless? “I guess you have to be strong, but I’m eventually a girl you know. I started working when I was 17. I may have been working for five to six years now, but it’s not that I’m 40, that I’ll know how to deal with everything. But I guess I grew up in films. I joined the industry when I was just out of the Class XII. This is where my growing up process has happened, and I don’t know anything else, apart from doing what I do,” she explains.

Having come such a long way in such a short while, does Priyanka ever look back to where she started from? She had a middle class upbringing in a small town, but she burst onto the scene with these bold and sexy characters that many newcomers wouldn’t, at that point of time in the industry, touch with a barge pole. “Well, I’ve always wanted to do difficult parts. I was just 21 at that point, when Aitraz happened. I was very, very young to be doing such roles, I probably didn’t even understand what I was doing! But it was something that I tried doing and it worked really well,” she says.

A self-confessed masochist, Priyanka has also divulged that she’s too hard on herself. “Yeah, I don’t know how I always end up doing that, picking up the hard and challenging stuff instead of the easy stuff,” she laughs. “I cannot do something in which I feel complacent, you know. I like pushing myself, my limits. I’ve been like this ever since I was little. If I have to work really, really hard, I feel that my victory is sweeter,” she adds.

After delivering four hits in a row, and garnering loads of critical acclaim as well, how does Priyanka explain the tepid response to What’s Your Rashee?, considering it was by another celebrated director, Ashutosh Gowariker? “It’s destiny, sometimes you can’t help it. I’m an actor, I’m just grateful that my work’s been appreciated, and that people have said such wonderful things about me. Beyond that, there’s not much I can do.”

So what about her Guinness world record for the highest number of parts played by a female actor? When do we get to see her in the book? “Soon, I hope – that’s something that I’ve applied for. I haven’t figured out what happened afterwards, but if it comes through, it’ll be really cool!” she says.

The one question ever since the 12 roles in What’s Your Rashee? that’s on everyone’s minds – is she or is she not doing Vishal Bhardwaj’s Seven Husbands? “We’ve been talking about what films we’re doing... We’re definitely working together, we just wanna figure out what scripts, etc,” she says.

Buzz has it that she’s going to have her own reality show, which she recently met slumkids for. Priyanka clarifies, “I’m not doing a reality show. I was just doing one episode, for this show called The Big Switch, for which I had met those children.”

Speaking of shows, not many know that Priyanka has a great voice, which she has allowed the world only tiny, infrequent peeps at, say, for instance, on Simi Garewal’s show, and during a New York concert, both ages ago. So why haven’t we heard her sing in her films? “Oh, it’s something that I want to do, definitely. I’m just not very sure when. The right song just hasn’t come along. If I like a song, I’ll definitely do it, plus you need riyaaz, you know, I don’t want to do something badly.” Here’s wishing we get to hear the desi girl real soon!