Priyanka Chopra Jonas says she has spent enough time playing second fiddle to heroes in her two decades in films and hopes her much-awaited film Jee Le Zaraa will help female actors gain more agency in their lives.
Priyanka, one of the most popular Indian artists globally, will share screen space with Bollywood stars Katrina Kaif and Alia Bhatt in the road trip film.
“I have spent a long time in my career where we have always been secondary to men. The heroes decide where the film will be shot, who will appear and what will happen. It’s boring. We live in a time where women should be able to have freedom of action in their lives,” said the 40-year-old actor in an interview.
The seed of Jee Le Zaraa, to be directed by actor-filmmaker Farhan Akhtar, took root in Priyanka Chopra’s mind and what followed was a long telephonic conversation with her friends Katrina Kaif and Alia Bhatt.
“I called Alia and Katrina, this is before Farhan or anyone came (on board). I called the girls first. I was sitting at home and I wanted to do a Hindi film. But I wanted it to be on the conditions of women,” she added.
The film will be produced by Farhan Akhtar and Ritesh Sidhwani’s Excel Entertainment and Tiger Baby, helmed by Zoya Akhtar and Reema Kagti, and will begin shooting next year. Priyanka believes that her generation of female actors has paved the way for the upcoming female artists to be at the forefront of strong stories.
“My generation of actresses really really opened the door for the next generation of actresses to be the faces on the posters, to be able to sell movies. So I really wanted to gather my friends and say let’s create a film that will do well at the box office and it will be ours… So the stars aligned and we decided to do it. Hopefully we will start shooting it next year,” she said.
Apart from the Bollywood film, The Matrix Resurrections star is also looking forward to the premiere of Amazon’s original series Citadel, produced by Avengers: Endgame directors Anthony and Joe Russo.
Citadel is a multi-series franchise with local productions made in Italy, India and Mexico. Priyanka and Game of Thrones star Richard Madden headline the American version, which also stars Danish actor Roland Møller, known for films like Skyscraper and Papillon.
Priyanka Chopra, who will next be seen in Hollywood romance drama Love Again, said working on Citadel was challenging as most of the show was shot during the pandemic. But working with the Russo Brothers was a wonderful experience, added the actor.
“Citadel season one is done and it was supposed to come out next year after Love Again. It was a very difficult show because we shot it during the pandemic… I’m very excited because it’s very ambitious. It looks amazing and I can’t wait to share it with the world. It’s an amazing cast and the Russo Brothers are magical to work with.”
Described as an action-packed spy series with a “compelling emotional center,” Citadel is executive produced by the Russo Brothers along with former ABC Studios president Patrick Moran and Mike Larocca. The show has been filmed in several locations in the US and UK.
Priyanka Chopra said her production banner Purple Pebble Pictures has a first look deal with Amazon Prime Video under which she is developing several projects for the OTT platform.
The idea is to collaborate with new filmmakers and give opportunities to young talent, said the actor, who has backed Marathi hits Ventilator and Paani as well as Nepali feature Pahuna: The Little Visitors.
“The idea of my company is always to work with new filmmakers. That’s what gives me excitement because when I came to the industry, nobody was doing it for new people. I had to build my own way… I have built enough credibility where I can be the springboard for new filmmakers to get to where they want to be,” she said.
The actor-entrepreneur is currently in India to promote her hair care brand Anomaly, which has been launched in the country with beauty e-commerce platform Nykaa.