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"I Live For The Moment!"
Text by Shraddha Jahagirdar-Saxena and Photographs by Sameer Parekh
Published: Volume 15, Issue 5, May, 2007
She leaves all to chance, firmly believing that she is destiny's chosen child. And Circa 2006 has seen the former Miss World star in two of the biggest hits of the year - Don and Krrish. With high-end brands under her belt, Priyanka Chopra is swiftly emerging as the blue-eyed girl of the silver screen. Shraddha Jahagirdar-Saxena catches up with the busy-as-a-bee heroine

Her brilliantly hued, orange make-up van looms large in one corner of the parking lot at Mehboob Studio, Mumbai, near a flight of white steps. She drives in on a sweltering Friday afternoon, in a white Merc and vanishes into its air-con comfort. Priyanka Chopra, clad in a cotton Tee and jeans, flops down on the chair in front of the bulbs-encrusted mirror. She readies for the shoot, under the gentle hand of make-up maestro, Mickey Contractor and having watched him in action umpteen times before, I talk the talk gingerly with the diva in the making. The conversation continues at its own pace in between style changes, shots and snacks over the next few hours...before we finally decide to call it a night.

Circa 2006 had seen the former Miss World star in two of the biggest hits of the year - Don and Krrish. And, with high-end brands under her belt (Tag Heuer, to name one) La Chopra is on a roll. She has just returned after attending the charity dinner that marked the beginning of the F-1 Grand Prix at the invitation of the Prime Minister of Malaysia! Her star is apparently on the ascendant, so it is rather surprising that the day has seen the release of one of the first films she had signed - Big Brother. "I have never planned my career moves," she states. "I live for the moment; I do not want to ruin today by only planning for tomorrow. As for Big Brother, I had given my first-ever shot for the movies for this film. In the last six months we re-shot it almost completely."

Turning her attention to the Alberta Ferretti outfits that fashion editor, Nisha Jhangiani has brought for the occasion, the actress talks about her personal sense of style, which is simply being "comfortable and innovative". Slipping effortlessly into haute couture, she comments, "I do believe in brands but I do not let my life revolve around them. I pick up various things for my closet. I might buy a Valentino or something from Linking Road.... I often mix and match stuff."

Commenting on the makeover of the heroine in Hindi movies, Chopra firmly believes that 'packaging' does not detract from one's talent. "People do look beyond a beautiful face and body to one's histrionic abilities," she states. "The grooming and styling all add up to a good performance."

The girl who was probably born to be beautiful (and incidentally won a film glossy's Best Debut Award for Andaaz) was catapulted on the red carpet to fame again purely by chance. "I owe it all to my family. My brother, Siddharth and my mother sent in my entry for the Miss India pageant…." The crowning has remained ensconced in her memory for more reasons than one. As Sameer Parekh, our lensman for the day - who had photographed the 2000 Miss India winners then - shows her the defining moment on his laptop - she bursts into an impromptu jig and laughs out aloud. "Just look at Shah Rukh standing between the three of us," she points to the man and her co-winners (Lara Dutta and Dia Mirza). "I was dying to let out a yell of excitement, having just won and met him. He is a superstar and I had seen all his films. It is funny but Shah Rukh was at our crowning, I did my first ad with him, my first stage show with him…and finally, got to act with him in Don. It was a tough role to play and I was rather focussed on it."

Interestingly, Chopra had never thought of the movies as an option. For someone who had once dreamt of becoming an engineer, she has taken a long detour in her career capers. "Call it destiny or what you will, there is someone up there who is looking out for me," she says. Checking the images that upload themselves on Sameer's laptop, it is time for an innovation - and under our creative director, Falguni Kapadia's, Nisha's and Mickey's expert guidance, she dashes into the changing room for an alteration: the Ferretti dress is turned back to front…! The glimmering outfit now enhances her body language before the lens…to Falguni's complete satisfaction.

Continuing the conversation a few minutes later - after preening before the lens and showing her hot bod to perfection in the dazzling mini - Chopra points out, "Acting is not a mechanised 9-5 job. Each year has been a series of trials and errors. Things continue to surprise me every day and I am still learning. I am enjoying my work and have rarely taken a holiday from my schedules." No wonder then that she has 20-plus films to her credit in the short span she has spent here.