Priyanka Chopra dazzles Toronto
"You are so good doing 12 parts in the film that I thought you are capable of playing every role in the film including the one played by Harman Baweja," an admirer tells Priyanka Chopra who was in Toronto for the red carpet opening of What's Your Raashee?
"You could have easily played the father, grandfather, uncle, mother and aunt -- and the even the mafia man,"
"Wouldn't that have been wonderful," she says with a hearty laughter. This is the first time she is on a red carpet.
"I am overwhelmed and at the same time very happy to be here," she says. "This city is known for its love of the movies. And then Toronto was the location (along with Calgary) of my first film Hero," she says, referring to the film The Hero: Love Story of a Spy released in 2003. "I am back in Toronto after six years and it feels like home-coming."
Image: Priyanka Chopra arrives at the Toronto International Film Festival
Photographs: Mark Blinch/Reuters
'My challenge was to make each role distinct'
Six years after the release of the relatively unknown film Hero, she has become not only a top star in Bollywood, but after Fashion and Kaminey, she is also hailed as a brilliant actress.
"She can surprise even a seasoned film-maker," says the director of Raashee, Ashutosh Gowariker. And Vishal Bhradwaj who directed her in Kaminey has said that she displayed wonderful maturity. There is acting volcano in her, he said.
"My challenge was here to make each role distinct," she says.
"I was not worried that I would be overexposed or people may get tired of seeing me from the beginning to the end," she says. "In most films, the lead players are there throughout, and so it goes for this film too. It was a question of splitting the lead role into 12 parts But the novelty here is each character is unique, and that means my attire, my body language, and my speaking had to be different, too."
Image: Priyanka Chopra
'I did not want Anjali to be a caricature'
She says it is not the length of a role that makes her want to do a film. In Kaminey, she had a small part but she created a very different persona, and the audiences and critics responded well to her work.
Though each role in Raashee demanded her fullest attention, she found playing two parts most difficult.
At the beginning of the movie she appears as Anjali, one of the 12 women, the would be bride -- Harman Baweja -- is checking out.
The shy and awkward sounding Anjali talks faulty English, screwing up many words including mention which she pronounces as menson. She also boasts she loves smoking and eating non-veg. The truth comes out quickly and her act is exposed.
"I did not want this character to be a caricature," Priyanka says. "I wanted to make it real at the same time."
Image: Priyanka Chopra interacts with fans
'We were not using make up and special effects as in Benjamin Button'
Later in the film, she plays another awkward character whose father says she is 19 but in reality she is 15.
For 27-year-old Priyanka this was yet another challenge. "Ashutosh (Gowariker) had decided against using prosthetics," she says. "So a lot depended on my voice and mannerisms. We were certainly not using the make up and special effects as in the film Benjamin Button. I was very scared how I would handle it all."
She says she dipped into her memory and imagined how she could have talked and walked when she was in her mid teens.
"I was so worried over doing this part, I was like a zombie on the set," she continues. "I have realised that it is easier to play an older character. You add a bit of maturity to your character, and you have done a good job but playing a conflicted teenager was the kind of challenge every adult should go through and learn something from it."
She feels that What's Your Raashee? will fetch her more demanding roles. She will be working soon in the sequel to Don directed by Farhan Akhtar, and the film Anjana Anjani directed by Siddharth Anand.
"I have done a variety of roles in six years working under some of the most respected of the film-makers in India," she says. "I don't think I am afraid of taking up any role. I am also waiting to be in a costume drama."
Image: Priyanka Chopra signs autographs