Priyanka Chopra: Important for me to play strong female roles

After stealing the show with her empathic portrayal of Kashibai in 'Bajirao Mastani', Priyanka Chopra is back as a tough cop in 'Jai Gangaajal' and the actress says she is consciously opting for roles in Bollywood that represent the modern Indian woman.

Priyanka Chopra
Priyanka Chopra

She has established herself as one of the best performers of her generation of actresses in Hindi cinema besides a blossoming career in Hollywood that saw her becoming the first female star from India to front a US television show in 'Quantico'.

She is now all set to make her Hollywood film debut as the main villain opposite Dwayne Johnson in 'Baywatch'.

Priyanka says she is consciously gravitating towards roles that have more to offer notwithstanding the length of the part.

"It was very important for me to play strong female characters in my films. I started doing that a long time ago, be it 'Kaminey' where I had just eight scenes, Jhilmil in 'Barfi!', 'Gunday', 'Saat Khoon Maaf' or Kashibai in 'Bajirao Mastani'.

"I try really hard to play strong women, who are a representation of modern Indian woman," Priyanka told PTI in an interview over phone from Montreal, Canada.

Her next big screen outing 'Jai Gangaajal', directed by Prakash Jha, will see her playing a female cop fighting for justice in a corrupt, male-dominated place.

"It's a very interestingly layered character. Abha is very feminine and she has been thrown into this man's world where nobody takes her seriously even when she is Superintendent of Police, because she is a woman.

"She has been sent to this very male-dominated city where she has to put her foot down, making sure that she does not have to take the law in her hands at the same time."

The film's fate will be clear only after its release on March 4 but the actress, 33, is hopeful that people will like the movie, which deals with issues like corruption in the system, feminism and farmers' suicide.

Priyanka is seen mouthing some intense dialogues in impeccable Hindi, something she did not find hard to do.

"I grew up in UP and I was born in Bihar so my Hindi is good. My mother knows both Hindi and Urdu. We speak the language at home. I was very happy that I got a chance to speak such good Hindi because usually we speak Hinglish in our films.

"My character Abha comes from Lucknow. There is a softness in her language but her diction is very clear. It is my job as an actor pull off all kind of roles."

She has interesting company in her co-star as Jha, besides directing, makes his full-fledged acting debut as a cop with dubious morality in the film.

Priyanka says she had a gala time bullying the director as he is her junior when it comes to acting.

"He was bullied throughout the film a lot because it was his first movie (as an actor) but he took it in his stride. It was a lot of fun to have your director as your co-star. He has done a phenomenal job. I don't think anyone could have done a justice to the role."

Priyanka has become an assured performer and she credits her directors for instilling that confidence in her.

"The credit for my acting goes to all the filmmakers who gave me such varied roles, they were my film school.

"Also, I never take my work for granted. I take every character seriously and try and give my best whether it is small or big."

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