Scandal to success: Why Priyanka Chopra is Bollywood’s next Shah Rukh Khan
Priyanka Chopra is your proverbial phoenix, rising from the ashes of a scandalous 2012 to soar high into the territory of Bollywood royalty that was once only limited to star kids and their snooty better halves.
Who knew that a small-town, gawky girl from Bareilly, India would one day bag the crown of Miss World and follow it up by more recent titles, including this year’s Sexiest Woman Alive in Asia and also be nominated in the same week for her singing prowess at the World Music Awards to be held on December 20 this year in Florida.
Especially since Chopra has painstakingly spent these past 10 years carving a career for herself as a glamorous, yet, thinking man’s actor in the most fickle world of Bollywood.
The Dh3 billion girl
Celebrating a decade in the film industry, Chopra has fast gone on to become the most bankable female actor in Bollywood, with 2012 proving this success story with two smash hit films that have combined box office collections of Rs4.10 billion (approximately Dh3bn) in the past few months, with ‘Agneepath’ and ‘Barfi!’.
Meanwhile, according to trade website, Boxofficeindia.com, three of her films have made into the top 10 worldwide grosser of all time, including ‘Don 2’ from 2011.
Priyanka Chopra and Ranbir Kapoor during the press conference of 'Barfi!' in Dubai.
Chopra, who has already bagged the Indian National Award in the past for her 2008 film, ‘Fashion’, is already being touted as the frontrunner for the awards season next year, for her sensitive portrayal of an autistic person in ‘Barfi!’.
Incidentally, the actress played a crucial role in the film being selected as India’s entry to the Academy Awards this year.
Could a trio to the Oscars red carpet be on the cards next year?
While it would be a tad premature to predict the film’s chances amongst other contenders, a nomination for such a prestigious award can only add to Chopra’s overall brand value, which has already got a boost since the release of her hit single, ‘In My City’ and earning her three nominations at the WMAs.
Superstar Shah Rukh Khan, who has never shied away from lucrative business opportunities, once was quoted in the media as saying: “Priyanka has the capacity and talent to become the first crossover star from India, our first creative export.
Indian Bollywood actors Shah Rukh Khan (L) and Priyanka Chopra attend a press conference on the shooting of their movie 'DON-2' on October 22, 2010 in Berlin. (AFP)
“She has a super team backing her and she is truly an international brand and will make India very proud.”
Post her live performance at the prestigious National Football League (NFL), the world’s biggest league for American football, Chopra has moved from strength to strength, rumoured to have become the most highest paid actress in Bollywood today, even beating out arch rival Kareena Kapoor.
Chopra was reportedly paid Rs90m for her role as Mala in the upcoming remake of ‘Zanjeer’, beating out the Kapoor lass by Rs30m allegedly.
Meanwhile, the other contender, namely Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, has taken a hiatus from acting, leaving the runnings clean for Chopra to make it first to the finish line.
Today, Chopra has also become one of the most sought after celebrity endorsers in India, with her most recent being a Rs40m Pepsi deal per year, or a an average per day endorsement rate of Rs15m.
The actress has added Pepsi to an already bulging bouquet of brand portfolio, including Nokia, Asmi, Lux, Hero Honda-Pleasure, Bru Coffee, Nikon cameras and more.
Her film calendar also has her in some top brass projects, aside from ‘Zanjeer’, with the latest being her role of Mary Kom in the boxer’s biopic.
Public enemy number one?
But fame comes with a price and Chopra is no novice to being used as target practice by some of Bollywood’s elite.
This year alone, Chopra was the centre of a delicious Bollywood scandal that turned her into public enemy number one, overnight, after being named in a clandestine alleged affair with the much married Shah Rukh Khan.
This news came as a shocker for many considering in the notorious corridors of Bollywood, where fidelity is considered just as fickle as friendships, the Shah Rukh-Gauri marriage was above reproach.
While married actors were being linked with all and sundry, Khan’s status as a faithful husband was never brought into question. Not until people started to whisper a certain name: Priyanka Chopra.
Khan’s co-star in several films, the actress and him apparently started to get cosy during the shoot of “Don 2”.
Things heated up, allegedly, during the film’s promotions, which even saw the duo jet into Dubai with director Farhan Akhtar.
But those whispers became talk when stories filtered out that Gauri refused to let Chopra into her house for the film’s wrap up party.
Shortly after, Gauri’s close pal Neelam Kothari was being named as the person who was spreading such nasty rumours. But the former actress, turned jewellery designer, denied such was the case.
Finally, things came to head when news of a clandestine 3am meeting between Khan and Chopra emerged, prior to the Zee Cine Awards in Macau, where incidentally, Gauri gave the younger actress an open snub during rehearsals for the same.
When stories filtered out in the media from the Chopra camp, defending the actress and dragging director Karan Johar into the melee, the filmmaker embroiled himself in a very public spat with Chopra, before finally relenting and inviting her for his 40th birthday celebrations this year.
Meanwhile, both Khan and Gauri have maintained a dignified silence on the alleged affair, but it is being said that the first wives club of Bollywood, including the likes of Mehr Jessia Rampal and Malaika Arora Khan, have ignored the younger actress since.
However, this is not the first time Chopra’s name has been linked with a married man.
Back in 2003, stories filtered out of an alleged romantic link-up between Akshay Kumar and Chopra.
The media had a field day with the news, reporting Kumar’s marriage was cracking under the pressure.
The rumour got an added champion in Chopra’s then secretary Prakash Jaju who produced phone bills that supposedly confirmed late night calls between the couple.
Apparently cracking under pressure, Kumar stopped working with Chopra to save his marriage
But rumours and scandals aside, Chopra is currently on a success train to the top. Yet, can she maintain that momentum?
While one can only wish her luck, it is best the actress remembers the adage: the higher you soar, the harder you fall.
In a fickle world where careers are made and broken every weekend, box office numbers are the only failsafe to determine the way the tide will turn in future.
Let’s hope for her sake, she keeps that as her goal in the notorious corridors of Bollywood.
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